Former Aggie head coach, Ute assistant Larry Eustachy overcoming addiction, marks 10th year since last drink (+video)
David Zalubowski, File, Associated Press
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Sometimes, Larry Eustachy isn't in the mood to trudge through his alcohol-filled past.
After all, it was years ago when he resigned as head coach of Iowa State once photos of him partying with students surfaced. And this is a different Eustachy sinking deeper and deeper into the cozy, black leather chair in his new office at Colorado State, sipping one of his 14 Diet Cokes of the day as he chatted about his basketball team's fast start to the season.
"There are times I just want to say, 'I'm done talking about this stuff anymore,'" the Rams' first-year coach lamented.
Only, he realizes the importance of talking about his battle with alcoholism. As many times as necessary, too, in part because of all the letters piled up on his desk at home, the ones offering support since they're from people just like him — coping each day with the demons of the disease.
Maybe speaking about it — again and again and again — will reach someone. That's his hope, anyway. That's why he remains so open on the subject, even if he would much rather break down his team's 10-2 start.
This April, shortly after an NCAA champion is crowned, Eustachy will mark 10 years of sobriety.
It's a number he mulled over for a moment as he stared straight ahead at all the nets he and his teams have cut down through the years, the ones encased in frames and hanging on his office wall.
Eustachy has had plenty of friends and acquaintances who haven't made it this far, who've slipped back into the disease — or worse. One step at a time, one day at a time, he's managed to reassemble the pieces of his life.
"I think the only crime somebody can commit when they find themselves in the gutter is to not get out of it," he said. "I'm really proud that I held myself accountable.
"But there's a microscope on you. A lot of people are waiting for a guy to screw up again. What's great about this country, though, is this: People love second chances."
He's certainly made the most of his.
Shortly after his resignation at Iowa State in 2003, Eustachy went into rehabilitation to treat alcoholism.
Following a year away from basketball, he was given another opportunity at Southern Mississippi, where he steadily built the program into a Conference USA contender. He turned in four 20-win seasons with the Golden Eagles and led them into the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 1991.
Just as former Southern Miss athletic director Richard Giannini always figured. That's why he took the chance on Eustachy.
"I had people around the country tell me he's as good of coach as there is in America," said Giannini, who retired a year ago. "We just felt if we got a coach of his caliber, he could jumpstart our program."
As for the matter of Eustachy's alcohol addiction, Giannini said he simply had a heart-to-heart chat with him.
"I've had alcoholism in my family. I knew about the disease and the addiction," Giannini said. "I knew Larry had been to treatment, and listened as he described his journey. I really felt like he was committed.
"He just did a terrific job for us."
The team has been quick to grasp his concepts, beating Virginia Tech 88-52 in the Las Vegas Classic championship game last Sunday. Eustachy preaches more of a defense-first, take-care-of-the-glass philosophy.
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