Sutton: Sons pushed him to return to coaching at San Francisco Print
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Friday, 22 February 2008 16:55
NCAAB Headline News


 OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -As the Sutton family reached another milestone this week, the family patriarch credited his sons and grandsons for pushing him back into coaching - even if only temporarily.
Eddie Sutton, who recently became the fifth coach in NCAA history to reach 800 wins, said he initially wasn't enthusiastic about the job when San Francisco officials approached him in late December and asked him to be the Dons' interim coach.
But after speaking with two of his sons - Sean Sutton, who followed his father as Oklahoma State's coach, and Scott Sutton, the coach at Oral Roberts - Eddie Sutton decided to accept San Francisco's offer. Since then, the Dons are 3-11 and Sutton has recorded his landmark win.
``I had no interest in going out there,'' Sutton told The Associated Press on Friday before his induction into the Oklahoma State University Alumni Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
``Sean and Scott pushed me ... and they talked me into it. It has been an interesting experience. The people have been extremely nice.
``I've enjoyed everything except losing basketball games. I got spoiled with all those good players that I had through the years. This is the least-talented team I've ever coached.''
Sutton was in Tulsa on Thursday night to watch Oral Roberts beat Missouri-Kansas City 72-64, a win that raised the Sutton family win total to 1,000. Eddie has 801, while Scott has 164 wins in nine seasons with the Golden Eagles and Sean has 35 in two seasons at Oklahoma State.
Only two other coaching families are thought to have recorded more wins, and both of them have Oklahoma connections. Eddie Sutton's coach at Oklahoma State, Henry Iba, combined with brother Clarence and son Moe to finish with 1,143 wins. Longtime DePaul coach Ray Meyer and his sons, Joey and Tom, combined for 1,032 wins. Joey Meyer is now the coach of the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League.
``I don't think Sean and I did a whole lot,'' Scott Sutton said Friday. ``But it's neat to be mentioned with the Ibas and Meyers. That's a pretty elite group. To be linked with Mr. Iba probably means more to me than reaching 1,000 wins, because, again, my father deserves most of the credit.''
Eddie Sutton retired as Oklahoma State's coach after the 2005-06 season. He won 798 games in 36 seasons at Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State.
His retirement came a little more than three months after he took a medical leave following a Feb. 10, 2006, accident that resulted in charges of aggravated DUI, speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road. He pleaded no contest to the charges, received a one-year deferred sentence and was ordered to pay a fine. Since then, he has worked to establish a new alcohol education and support program at the university.
``No one wants to end their career like he ended his at OSU,'' Scott Sutton said of his father. ``It was an opportunity for 800 wins and to go out on his own terms. He'll be able to step away and have no regrets. I don't know how big of a deal it was to him, but it was a big deal to our family. It puts him in elite company. There will be very few guys to get to 800.''
Eddie Sutton recorded the milestone win Feb. 2 as the Dons won 85-82 at Pepperdine. They've since won again, beating Portland 73-60 on Monday.
The 800th win ``wasn't as important to me as to my sons and grandsons that are old enough to know what's going on,'' Eddie Sutton said. ``I kept telling them there's not that much difference between 798 and 800. They said, 'Yes, there is. There is a difference, because not many guys will win 800 games.'''
San Francisco was off this weekend, allowing Sutton the chance to return to Oklahoma to be honored by his alma mater.
``I've been very blessed with a lot of awards and honors, but when your school honors you as one of the outstanding alums and puts you in the hall of fame, that's very special,'' he said.
Sutton joined Bob Knight, Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp and Jim Phelan in the NCAA's 800-win club. Sutton said only a few active coaches - Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Jim Calhoun of Connecticut, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse and Lute Olson of Arizona - might join that group. Sutton said the increased level of pressure on coaches now likely means not many of them will coach into their 60s or 70s.
Sutton said he hopes San Francisco is benefiting from his time there, particularly from the increased publicity the program has received since he was hired. He said before he leaves, he will offer a list of suggestions to the school that will allow the Dons to compete with West Coast Conference powers Gonzaga and St. Mary's.
``They've got to make a stronger commitment to the basketball program,'' he said.
Sutton, who will turn 72 in March, did not rule out a return to coaching after this season, but said it would not be likely. He said the president of another school visited him in San Francisco in recent weeks to gauge his interest in a job, but Sutton told him he wasn't interested.
``I think when I get through this year, I'll be finished coaching,'' Sutton said.
 

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