Eustachy thrilled to get another chance

Updated: March 25, 2004, 9:55 PM ET
Associated Press

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Contrite and thankful for another chance, Larry Eustachy returned to coaching with Southern Mississippi on Thursday.

Larry Eustachy
Larry Eustachy, with wife Stacy, has a new outlook and a new program to coach after being introduced in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Eustachy was introduced as the Golden Eagles coach, 10 months after his embarrassing resignation at Iowa State.

"Sometimes until you totally bottom out, you don't really see what's going on in your life," Eustachy said during a news conference. "I hit rock bottom with nobody to blame but myself. You can go one way or another ... I am a recovering alcoholic and it's constant maintenance, it's constant work. But where I find myself now, I've never felt better."

His four-year contract is worth at least $230,000 annually with up to about $500,000 more in incentives, Southern Miss athletic director Richard Giannini said.

Giannini said the opportunity came at "the right time in the life of Larry Eustachy. It's the right time to have him as our coach."

Eustachy, The Associated Press' coach of the year in 2000, stepped down as the Cyclones' coach last year after photographs were published showing him at a college party holding a can of beer and kissing and being kissed by young women.

He led Iowa State to Big 12 championships in 2000 and 2001. In 2000, the Cyclones reached the round of eight in the NCAA Tournament. Eustachy also spent three seasons as coach at Idaho and five at Utah State. His career record over 13 seasons is 260-145.

Before resigning from Iowa State, Eustachy acknowledged publicly that he was an alcoholic. Earlier this year, he said he had stopped drinking and wanted to get back into coaching.

I hit rock bottom with nobody to blame but myself. ... I am a recovering alcoholic and it's constant maintenance, it's constant work. But where I find myself now, I've never felt better.
Larry Eustachy

Eustachy said he isn't worried about other coaches using his bout with alcoholism as a negative recruiting tool.

"I've faced negative recruiting all my life, and I always took it as a compliment -- that means they're afraid of me," Eustachy said. "The kind of guys I want get turned off by negative recruiting."

New Orleans Hornets coach Tim Floyd, who coached with Eustachy at Idaho, said he had talked with Southern Miss officials about two weeks ago about Eustachy.

"It was very easy for me to say good things about him," Floyd said. "Obviously, the coaching didn't need to be addressed. I've never been more proud of anyone in my life ... the way he's addressed his life and gone through rehab."

Eustachy succeeded Floyd at Iowa State.

Giannini said he first called Eustachy about two weeks ago, and they met on March 17 in New Orleans. They exchanged several telephone calls in the ensuing days.

Eustachy visited Hattiesburg on Tuesday and reached an agreement with Giannini. Contract details were finished Wednesday.

"I wanted to get someone who had experience in the state of Mississippi," Giannini said. "He couldn't have picked a better place to resume his career."

Eustachy was an assistant at Mississippi State in the early 1980s.

He replaces James Green, who resigned the day before the Golden Eagles' final regular-season game. Southern Miss finished 13-15 in Green's eighth season.

The Golden Eagles won a share of the Conference USA regular-season championship in 2001, but have had three straight losing seasons since then.

"This program has tremendous potential," Eustachy said. "It isn't like there isn't tradition, which makes it a lot easier to rebuild a program."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press