Eustachy: My plans are to take this program to the Final Four
April 12, 2012
University President Dr. Tony Frank
"Well as Gary [Ozzello] said, it is my honor to serve as the university's president and I want to welcome you all here today. Thank you for your support of our university and of our university's athletic programs.
"We're here to hear from our Athletic Director, Jack Graham, who is introducing our new men's basketball coach, Larry Eustachy. I don't want to steal Jack's thunder, but I do want to make just a couple of quick comments.
"I think that Coach Eustachy has established an absolutely remarkable record of on-the-court excellence, and I think the lessons he has learned in amassing and assembling that record will serve Colorado State University very well. But at least equally important, I think, are the lessons that he brings from life. Lessons about perseverance in the face of adversity. Lessons about maintaining a focus on excellence when faced with challenge. Lessons about learning from your mistakes and using that knowledge to help others. These are lessons that I think transcend the basketball court, and let's make no mistake about it, we have very high hopes for excellence on the basketball court as well. We expect, at Colorado State University, that the excellence of our athletic programs will mirror that of the excellence that has always been the academic foundation at this great university.
"I think it is important to mention that academic foundation, because at the end of the day the young men and women who come here are student-athletes at Colorado State. Although they have tremendous abilities, although they have very special ambassadorial responsibilities to the university, they are first and foremost students. We expect them to not only hit the three-point shot, but to earn the three-point GPA. We want them to have three-point quality character.
"I believe that Larry Eustachy understands these things. I believe he embodies them. I think he'll be a great teacher and I am very proud to welcome him to the Colorado State University family. So with that, let me introduce the Director of Colorado State University Athletics; a man who has an incredibly strong passion for improving excellence at his alma mater, the Director of Athletics, and my friend, Jack Graham."
Athletic Director Jack Graham
"Thanks Tony. I'd like to welcome you all to another chapter of the `Bold New Era' of Colorado State athletics. I have the great privilege, and exciting privilege, of getting to introduce to you our new head basketball coach, Larry Eustachy.
"I want to start off by saying that I had two very specific objectives in mind when I took on the task of finding the new head basketball coach for our men's program. The two criteria I had were: number one, find a great basketball coach who is going to build on the success and platform that already exists for us here today. We have a good platform, and our opportunity to take this to another level and establish Colorado State University as a venue of great basketball traditions and a household word amongst everyone in the United States is what we are seeking to accomplish. So find a great basketball coach was number one. Number two, I wanted to find a great basketball coach who wanted to make Colorado State University and Fort Collins his permanent home for a lifetime. That he is here to stay, that when we establish that success, when we establish those traditions that he is here to stay and stay with us permanently.
"I will say without any hesitation and with complete confidence that we have accomplished both of those objectives in finding Coach Eustachy to lead us into this next `Bold New Era' for Colorado State basketball.
So let me give you the numbers, the history of what Larry has done in his basketball career. He is a graduate of Long Beach State University. He started his career in 1979 as an assistant coach, so he has been around. He was an assistant coach at Mississippi State, the University of Idaho, the University of Utah, and Ball State [University].
"In 1990, Larry started his career as a head basketball coach when the Vandals gave him an opportunity to be a head coach for the first time. At the time that he was appointed, he was the youngest D-1 basketball coach in the country. I don't know if he's still that, but we got him.
"With the Vandals his record was impressive. He was there for three years and he had three years of successive winning seasons. They won the Big Sky Conference in 1993, and his overall record at Idaho was 61-33, a 65 percent winning record.
"From Idaho he went to Utah State. He was the head coach at Utah State from '93 until '98. While he was in Logan they won three Big West titles. They won their conference tournament in 1998. They played in the NIT in 1995 and the NCAA tournament in 1998. He compiled an overall record with Utah State of 98-53, another 65 percent winning record.
"In 1998 he was named the head coach at Iowa State where he established the Cyclones as a household name. He took them from a platform that was in deep trouble when he arrived and turned them into a great basketball school between 1998 and 2003. They won back-to-back conference championships in 2000 and 2001 including top ten rankings. In 2000 they were ranked sixth and in 2001 they were ranked 10th. They had 32 wins in the 2000 season. They made consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament including an elite eight appearance in 2000. He was named the Big XII Coach of the Year twice and National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and the U.S. National Basketball Writers Association in 2000. He also coached two all-Americans and two Big XII Players of the Year in Jamaal Tinsley and in Marcus Fizer. He compiled an overall win-loss record at Iowa State of 101-59, another 63 percent winning record.
"And then he hit a detour. Tony alluded to this in his opening comment. He hit a detour at Iowa State when there were some pictures posted on a website that involved alcohol. In Larry's way of thinking it was the best thing that happened to him in his entire life. It gave him an opportunity to deal with a disease that for all of you who know about alcoholism, and all of us do know about alcoholism it touches all of us, was an opportunity to tackle something and correct something in his life. He took on that disease with the same passion and intensity and focus as he coaches players on the basketball court.
"I 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.
"The University of Southern Mississippi gave him a second chance. He had great respect for that university. He showed up at Southern Miss in 2005, not unlike our program in 2006 when Tim Miles showed up here, that program was in disarray. Maybe even worse disarray than what we had here in 2006 because of Hurricane Katrina.
"In 2006 he was coaching from a portable building because the campus had been devastated. They went 11-17 their first year but over his eight-year career they compiled 142 wins and an average number of wins of 18. They had an at-large bid to go to the NCAA tournament this season. It was the first time in the history of Conference USA that a team had received an at-large bid and won 25 games for the 2011-2012 season. Larry was named the Conference USA, as well as the District 11 Coach of the Year, for the 2011-12 season.
"Larry is one of only eight coaches in the history of college basketball who has won three separate conference titles in his career. When he wins his fourth in the Mountain West conference he will be one of only two coaches in the history of college basketball that has won four separate conference titles. If you think he's not committed to achieving that and we're not committed to helping him achieve that then you're in the wrong room.
"I think it is pretty clear that Larry's track record establishes that he can deliver results. I am absolutely convinced that he can deliver results and that we are going to win when we play basketball under his leadership. I think we all know that we define success as much more than just winning basketball games when you're leading an athletic program at Colorado State University.
"I'm just amplifying what Dr. Frank said when he introduced me. At Colorado State it begins with the student-athlete. We graduate our student-athletes. Our student-athletes are expected to excel in academics and we recruit only student-athletes of the highest character. We are absolutely committed to those principles. I have complete confidence as a result of a massive amount of diligence about coach Eustachy that he brings those values and that is going to represent our university and community extremely well.
"In the short time that I have gotten to know Larry and his wife Lana, who we are thrilled to have with us along with Larry's boys, I've really grown to like and respect him. Ladies and gentleman please help me to introduce and welcome our next basketball coach, coach Larry Eustachy.
Head Coach Larry Eustachy
Opening statement: "I have never been good with notes; I just kind of speak from the heart. I have to start out by thanking the two men to my right, Dr. Frank who I understand wants to be called Tony or he will call me Dr. Eustachy, so Tony, thank you very much and Jack Graham for having the faith in me.
"I stand in front of you extremely humbled, extremely, extremely humbled. Let's start by introducing - this is my lovely wife, Lana. Lana, you bought that dress, stand up and show it to everybody okay? My associate head coach from Southern Miss, Leonard Perry. Ross Hodge, one of our other coaches. Tiffany Beckham, that is also a new dress so you stand up too. My two sons, who I put way up there (motions to Moby stands), stand up you two and tell them 'Hi'. I told them to dress really nice for this and that is what we got.
Thanks for having me. This is my last stop. I have had opportunities in the past and I wanted to find a place that not only we could achieve the things that can be achieved in basketball. There is a rich tradition here in basketball just by this group right here. My plans are to take this program to the Final Four and I have come very close before with a similar job.
"Not only did I want to go to a place that - by the way, it is great to see you guys here (motions towards players on the team). Thanks for coming; it means a lot to me. We had dinner last night but when we work out tomorrow, you may not like me tomorrow. We are friends for right now. I love it. But not only do you get great players but great student-athletes. I take a ton of pride in the character and character equates to graduation and staying out of trouble, etcetera, etcetera. In the eight years that I have been at Southern Miss - we just went to the NCAA Tournament and we had a couple guys who basically got a parking ticket for celebrating too loud but other than that, I haven't had a player convicted of a crime in eight years. I am extremely proud about that. Our guys go to class, stay out of trouble, work very hard and it is as simple as that.
"I wanted to go to a place that when it's over, I could enjoy and make friends for life. I coached at Utah State for a long time and have always liked the mountains. I grew up in Los Angeles and I have a place in a small town called San Clemente, a small beach town so I am familiar with both the mountains and the beach. I have the best of both worlds. Needless to say, I probably won't be lying on the beach for several years but I do have that.
"We are going to do great things here. We are going to do exceptional things here. I know that it starts with intelligent and high-character players with obviously a talent level. We have done that where we have been before.
"Jack talked about Southern Miss and my first office was a 20-year old trailer with a hitch on it. It is not real comfortable to coach in a trailer with a hitch on it and a diesel truck right next to the hitch but we accomplished some things that had never been accomplished there. We won 25 games, which they had never done. We went to the tournament, which is one of three times. More importantly, we turned the culture. There is a reason why I have made decisions to come to certain places. The reason why I chose Southern Miss was to change the culture; there is no basketball. In the south, it is all football. It is football, then it's spring football, then it's summer football. It's football, football, football. I counted 218 people in the stands at the first game. At the end of this year, we were getting at times, 6 or 7,000 but averaged well over 4,000. I believe I accomplished that and I am ready for a new role; that is why I stand in front of you right now.
"If I look tired, I am extremely tired. I have been on a plane - by the way guys (motions to his team), I am just getting over those steaks that were about as thick as this podium. I really enjoyed that but my stomach didn't; I finally digested that. You will find out about that as you get older. It is time to move on and close my final chapter in coaching.
"What is also very important to me is sobriety. It will be nine years in just a few days that I haven't had a drink. My plan was to find a place, called Colorado State, and donate a portion of my salary, a percentage every year and create a foundation for a sober living home. It is hard enough for a 47-year old man to get sober and then go back into society, let alone a student - I think there is an epidemic out there of binge drinking, etcetera, etcetera. Somebody at an early age, young adults that can admit they have a problem and attack that at an early age because it is a big problem when you're 47, a big setback.
"I want to establish a sober living home for the transition period from after you have gone to rehab, where you would get back into the mainstream of college and that is very important to me. It will not take away from my coaching; it will not take away from my recruiting. I will have other people run the foundation. When I am done coaching here, and once Law and Order is over, I am asleep. I don't want to do anything else so I have a lot of miles left and a lot of years left. We are going to do great things in basketball and this is just a beautiful place to continue with my goal of helping people.
"Again, I stand in front of you very humbled. At 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, it's not Coach of the Year awards or league championships, but honestly how I have handled adversity.
"Adversity in my situation was on national TV, national radio. It is a great lesson. I don't think these things happen by mistake, they happen for a reason. I think someone stronger than me put me in that situation when I went to that fraternity party or whatever the heck it was.
"These pictures that you might see, those are staged pictures. I took a cab home from the parties I went to. I can show you a picture of an 88-year old man in a leprechaun costume during Halloween that I am kissing also. I am a kisser. I like to kiss and hug, Lana will tell you that. Those were staged but the life that situation took on of its own, changed my life by far for the better.
"I am more humbled. I never used that word and I have used it four or five times now so this is me. This is terrific. This is fantastic. The only regret that I have is that Tom (Hilbert) is not here right now. He is practicing right now and he said because of this, he had to move out of the gym and go to the practice facility. I told him to get used to that. That's a joke."
On when he became interested in CSU:
"When my wife said that we are going to live here one day. She has a dress on but she wears the pants. When you coach you just kind of go to the gyms and then to the next game. I think we stayed here and practiced and then they went to Alaska but this is the region that I have always loved. I always wanted to come back to Colorado State so when the job opened right away is when I had an extreme interest and I voiced that."
On mentor Bob Boyd:
"Bob Boyd's philosophy remains with me. Bob Boyd, for some of you who don't know, was the poor soul who had to coach at USC when John Wooden was at UCLA. He actually had the second-best team in the country one time, ranked No. 2 and they didn't go to the NCAA Tournament because back in those days they only took 16 teams. He is my second father. About 80 percent of what we do is based off what I learned from Coach Boyd. I have never called him Boyd in my life; he is Coach Boyd to me. He is very special. He taught me to be self-taught. What makes Coach Boyd so different than any other coach is that he is self-taught. He never had a mentor. He learned the game on his own and taught me how to teach it the right way and how it should be played. I love that question and can't talk about Coach Boyd enough. He is asleep right now. What is it, past 5 o'clock? It is past five and he is asleep so he is not watching this but I love the man to death."
On his basketball philosophy:
"I use the term `the right way' and it is just the way I think the game should be played. Whatever part we are playing, we are going to play extremely hard. There are no breaks. In practice, we very seldom use out of bounds; there are no out of bounds. Now when we scrimmage we will use out of bounds but I think the philosophy behind that is that you are going to pursue the ball no matter what. No matter what part we are playing, whether it is blocking out or a free throw, whether it's running a fast break, running back on a fast break, getting through a screen or setting a screen. We are going to play with a high physicality, high intensity level. We will play as fast as our talent will allow us to play. I 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. Some person once said that teaching shot selection is the hardest thing and I think it is the easiest thing when you hold your players accountable on the other end. By that I mean, when you have to work so hard and go out and secure the ball, you are going to value the possession. You are going to work hard and grab the ball, push it up hard, and you're not going to just jack one up because that means you have to go back to that hard work. We will take good shots. We will take the first good shot. We led the Big XII in scoring two or three times and I think we might have led the conference in scoring this year. It is just coincidental that the way we play is what fans want to see."
On the process of being hired:
“If you look up due diligence, you’re going to see Jack Graham’s picture because he interviewed double digit candidates and he spent four hours plus with all of them. That makes me feel good that I really believe that I was the first choice, at least Jack told me that. It doesn’t matter what choice I was, all the stars were lined up, they really were. I interviewed three times. In my other jobs, they would send a jet and say, ‘You’re our coach.’ That will tell you how badly I wanted to be here to go through a process. I really mean it; it is because of the two guys right here (motions to Frank and Graham). I have a great inside source in Tom Hilbert. I am big on trust and I have trust in Tom when he told me just how special Jack is and Tony. Can I call you Tony? Are you sure? I don’t want to get fired right away. I have been through that before. It was a process that all the way to the end, I didn’t know where I stood but I was willing to take the risk. There was a risk because some of the other candidates didn’t have the risk that I took if you follow me. Some were assistants, some probably didn’t have jobs but it was worth it because I wanted to be here so bad. I really want to be here. I told Jack that when I got my first job, you can’t describe it – when I got my first coaching job at a young age, I had that feeling. I haven’t had that feeling until way back then so I was taught to answer questions long term because when you do that on radio shows, you can only take about four questions and they can’t get on your ass. I don’t mean to talk too long on one subject but that is a habit of mine that I learned at an early age. We have Joe on line four and he is mad as hell but we will just keep talking about my philosophy and go to break.
On Colorado State being his last stop:
“Well if it is not your last stop, you don’t agree to the contract. Jack says that if he leaves, I am going to ask for about three and a half pints of blood. He is asking for about eight. I don’t even know what the body holds but I probably won’t have much more left. I have no problem with it. I told him, ‘Whatever you want. Whatever it is.’ This is going to be home. I have a lot of coaching to do here, a lot. You see these guys that are well into their 70’s coaching. I think I am at the top of my game. It is hard to self-analyze. I have players do it all the time and they are so wrong. This contractually is the last stop; that’s proof in the pudding if you will. I wanted to find a home and this is home. It really is home.”
On why he believes he can be successful:
“Again, I have to start with the men to my right. They have a vision and we share the same vision. It is an unbelievable university from an academic standpoint. I think when you talk about public schools that are in the 50’s nationally. When I was at Iowa State, we were similar. It is a similar job. We had tremendous success there so you recruit and have a plan to the school that you’re at. It would really be a mold of Iowa State. I think it is a great job and I feel very comfortable in front of young men and can relate to them. I feel very comfortable that I have an unbelievable staff and that we can recruit the highest quality of student-athletes. I have never seen a jockey carry a horse across the finish line. You need horses, you need players. This fine university is capable of attracting those young men.”
On the fans:
“You folks willed these guys to the NCAA Tournament, make no doubt about it. Those are neutral courts game and are very difficult. I think those guys right there would agree there is a big difference in coming out to a gym with a thousand people and a packed house – huge difference. Give the fans a ton of credit for showing up. I have played here before when there has been a lot of people. They can be very irritating at times. But I think that we can not only do what happened this year but really build on. I love this team. I told them last night, and we will sign a few guys, but that they are the core of the roster.”
On if he has had a chance to look the roster:
“Obviously by playing them and looking at film. In our game, Pierce [Hornung] was hurt which didn’t help Colorado State – us. I am going to call us, us. We are us. It didn’t help us in that game. Obviously with the impact he has and the tenacity he has on the game. I am very familiar with these guys.”
“You recruit to your situation. At Southern Miss, we had to go the junior college route. If you go back to my answer about the mold, the final team that I left at Iowa State was Will Blaylock, which was a second-round draft choice but a four-year player. Jake Sullivan was freshman-of-the-year in the Big XII, all-time leading scorer in the history of Minnesota basketball and a four-year player. Adam Schaper committed to us before his tenth grade year, four-year player. Jared Homan, this is the starting lineup, I’m pretty good to remember all this. You have to have draft choice, potential pros to do what I’m talking about doing. I think our philosophy is that we are going to start right here and close the borders of Colorado. We are not going to let any great players go anywhere but Colorado State and then extend out and that can take us a long ways or short ways depending. We have a great network of friends and that is what recruiting is about. The core of our team will be made up of four-year players and will fill the gap with junior college guys – much different than Southern Miss.”