Yes, Larry Eustachy is at CSU to coach and win games. That is what he will be paid to do.
But he also has bigger ideas. He says he is in Fort Collins to make a long-term home, and probably his biggest goal is to help change troubled lives and make sure that others are able to avoid the troubles he had.
In 2003, photos surfaced of Eustachy with beers at a college party. He admitted that he had begun treatment for alcoholism and later resigned from his position.
But instead of that being the low point in his career, or life, Eustachy said it was the best thing to happen to him.
â€œI stand in front of you very humbled,â€ Eustachy said at his introductory press conference on Thursday. â€œAt one time I was not very humbled. I thought I was a rock star. I thought I was invincible. It’s not whether you’re in the gutter; it’s whether you get out of the gutter. That is my best accomplishment â€” it’s not Coach of the Year awards or league championships, but honestly how I have handled adversity.â€
Eustachy said that he plans on building a sober-house for people leaving rehab to help them transition back into everyday life. He said he would like to focus on helping college-aged victims that are suffering from alcoholism and drug abuse. Eustachy said he is days away from nine years without a drink.
It was clear that CSU President Tony Frank and athletic director Jack Graham felt that Eustachy has put his problems behind him and used it to become a better coach and person.
â€œI have an incredible amount of respect for this man, an incredible amount of confidence in this man, and I am absolutely convinced that he is going to represent our university in the best kind of character that we can imagine,â€ Graham said.
Eustachyâ€™s on-the-court resume is impressive. His first head coaching job came at Idaho University. He then won three regular season conference titles and made the NCAA Tournament once in five seasons at Utah State. He rose to new heights at Iowa State when he went to two NCAA Tournaments, reaching the Elite Eight in 2000.
â€œI knew a lot about coach Eustachy just growing up,â€ said Greg Smith, who grew up in Nebraska and whose mom was an Iowa State fan. â€œHaving him now as a coach it’s a really nice thing. Iâ€™m really excited, and I think the rest of the team is really excited as well.â€
With three scholarships available, Eustachy will hit the road recruiting after putting the team through practice this weekend. He said that he will look for high school players, junior college players and potential Division I transfers.
Eustachy said that he plans to take CSU to the Final Four and that Fort Collins will be the final stop in his coaching career. His five-year contract includes financial provisions that would make it very expensive for another team to get him to break his contract by leaving.
For type of play, Eustachy said his brand is a hard-nosed style that he thinks fans will enjoy.
â€œWe are going to play with a high physicality, high intensity level. We will play as fast as our talent will allow us to play,â€ Eustachy said. â€œI really like these guys that I saw yesterday, and obviously we played against them last year. It is a real collection of guys that are very much together and very mature. Offensively, we are going to push the ball every chance we get and will take the first good shot available.â€
The current players met with Eustachy at dinner at Grahamâ€™s house on Wednesday night and seem happy with the hire and to move forward with a coach that has the experience to take CSU to new heights. And Eustachy was just as excited.
“We are going to do great things here,â€ Eustachy said. â€œWe are going to do exceptional things here.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.
Larry Eustachyâ€™s contract
Length: Five years
Base salary: $500,000
Potential bonuses: $250,000 for meeting academic expectations, $350,000 for no major NCAA infractions, $350,000 winning incentives, $100,000 for making the Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament
Max salary: $1.1 million
Early exit penalties
After one year: $3.75 million
After two: $3 million
After three: $2.25 million
After four: $1.5 million