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R.I.P. Jerry Sloan and Eddie Sutton

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Whether he has gone to Heaven hell, purgatory, or the great basketball court in the cosmos, you know Coach Sloan is setting a hard back pick somewhere.

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No doubt two great coaches passed.  Never met Jerry Sloan but always admired his work as a player and coach.  In particular, to make the playoffs as many consecutive years as the Jazz did speaks to how good of a coach Sloan was.

Got to know Eddie Sutton some as he was one of Jerry Tarkanian’s better friends in the coaching profession.  Eddie was the guy that began the College of Southern Idaho’s ascent to one of the better JC programs.  He parlayed that into becoming the head coach at Creighton.

Probably the first time I remember hearing his name was when he directed 6-11 Nate Stephens to Jerry when he was at Long Beach State prior to the 71-72 season.

Jerry was surprised why Sutton would want to lose a talented big man like Stephens.  Sutton claimed Nate didn’t like the cold winters. Jerry rather quickly learned the real reason was Nate had lets says some issues, and that was the real reason Sutton was glad to see him out of the program.  I learned then how persuasive Sutton could be.

My favorite Eddie Sutton story was how he got the Kentucky job.  At the time there was a guy named Joe Dean who ran Converse and was Sonny Vacarro in the grassroots world before Sonny came along. He was quite influential.

Sutton was at Arkansas at the time and was a Nike coach, but was very interested in the job.  He called up Dean and told him if he could get him an interview at Kentucky and he got the job Kentucky would wear Converse forever.  Dean got him an interview and obviously Sutton got the job.

Not too long after it was announced Dean was on his way to Lexington to cut the shoe deal.  When he arrived he found out a fast one was pulled on him as Sutton had already cut a deal with Sonny and Nike.

Jerry and Eddie had their ups and downs.  When everything went down with Chris Mills at Kentucky I remember Eddie accused UNLV or UCLA of being behind the payments and Jerry wasn't happy about it.  

They rather quickly patched things up.  After leaving Kentucky, Sutton went to work at Nike as a consultant.  I remember he came out during pre-season practice during the championship season to observe practice.

Shortly after winning the national title Jerry had to fly out to Oklahoma to film the “Shark on Offense”, “Shark on Defense” instructional videos.  While there Jerry publicly endorsed Sutton for the Oklahoma State job.

In some irony, Oklahoma State and Sutton played Jerry during his final season at Fresno State where the Bulldogs knocked off a ranked OSU in a defensive battle at Selland Arena.  Was nice visiting with him before the game.

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