Sutton Reveals Philosophies, Style Of Play
Following is the press conference with UK president Dr. Otis A. Singletary. Athletics Director Cliff Hagan, new UK coach Eddie Sutton and former Oklahoma State coach Henry Iba after the University of Kentucky hired Eddie Sutton last week:
Eddie Sutton: First of all I just wanted all of you to know how excited I am. When you talk about basketball, that's Kentucky. It's the only job I would leave the University of Arkansas for. We built a great program at Razorback country, but I'm flattered and honored. Mr. (Adolph) Rupp is one of the greats of all time and Joe Hall did a marvelous job and I just hope I can carry on that same tradition. When Dr. (Otis) Singletary and Cliff Hagan and the rest of the committee called me, believe me I would have crawled all the way to Lexington. I just happened to be here because of the NABC board meetings and the rules committee meeting. I'm really excited. I want to introduce my family (to the more than 150 people on hand): This lovely girl is my bride (wife Patsy). And on June 1st we will have been married 27 years. We have three lovely sons. Steven, who is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas, and I hope he'll transfer to the University of Kentucky. Sean Patrick was sophomore of the year in our state and is a great basketball player as is Steven, but he loves the outdoors (Steven) he's a hunter and a fisherman, so he never wanted to play college basketball; he wants to be a lawyer. That's better than being a basketball coach I'll tell ya (Sutton smiles). Our youngest son, Scott Andrew, who is in the eighth grade, he, too is a good basketball player. I brought another person along here (to the meeting) because he was such a great friend of Mr. Rupp -- Henry Iba, he's a legend. He's been like a second father to me. When he heard that I accepted the job, he was very thrilled and pleased. I wanted him to come along with me today to accept this situation.
How many tickets will be directed in Coach Sutton's allotment? And are there going to be new guidelines or provisions to any kind of possible abuse of the coaches' ticket allotment?
Dr. Singletary: I'm not particularly favorable to the way you asked that question. Let me say that we did not call this press conference to discuss the ticket distribution here. There is a time and place for that and we'll find a time and place for that. In the meantime, this occasion was to announce a new head coach, which we have done. Those of you who have had the willingness to come I thank you. I now formally adjurne the athletics board meeting and say that Coach Sutton is here for those of you who want to ask Coach Sutton the kinds of questions that he needs to be asked.
What about the recruiting process you now must face?
Coach Sutton: My first opportunity to do anything for the University of Kentucky and that was to meet with Leonard-Hamilton earlier today. He has agreed to be my assistant coach. I would hope that we could get on the road these next few days and continue to recruit well.
What about the recruit[s] that have already committed to the university now that there has been a switch, will there be any special effort made to those players.
Coach Sutton: I don't think so. It's like I said at the beginning, the University of Kentucky is basketball. It's the best job in the country. I would hope that all those young people, that have committed, will stay with us and we're going to try and go out and get a couple of more.
Are you going to try to bring anybody from Arkansas?
Coach Sutton: I don't want to comment on that.
Coach, you described this job as the best job in the country, but many would also describe it as one of the most pressurized jobs in the country. What are your feelings about that?
Coach Sutton: Well, I think there's pressure everywhere. We built a monster at the University of Arkansas. We've been in the NCAA (Tournament) nine years in a row. We went 22-13 this year, which was the worst record we'd ever had, and those people think you ought to win the national championship every year. Now one thing you all have got to understand, Joe Hall did an outstanding job. He had to follow Mr. Rupp. Mr. Rupp is one of the great coaches to ever coach the roundball sport. But if he had to coach today, because of the emphasis in our conference have put on basketball, it would be more difficult. I think the black athlete has certainly had a great impact on the game of basketball. So, it would be more difficult for Mr. Rupp to win as many SEC (championships) as he did.
What do you think about coming to a school where basketball is more popular than football?
Coach Sutton: There are a lot of people now in Arkansas now think that the roundball sport surpasses football. You (the state of Kentucky) have a great football coach here. He's done a marvelous job. I've always felt like, and we've done this at Arkansas, that the two sports can be compatible and they can actually compliment each other. I would hope Coach (Jerry) Claiborne and I would be able to do that.
Joe Hall Praises Selection Of Eddie Sutton
Statement from Coach Joe B. Hall !
on Sutton being named the new \ Kentucky coach:
"I couldn't be happier. In stepping down, I didn't want to let the program down, but with Eddie, I see nothing but great days ahead. I really feel good right now.
"I've known Eddie ever since I've been in coaching and I respect him as an excellent teacher of the game and as an excellent developer of young men.
"With the naming of Eddie Sutton, this is a great day for Kentucky basketball.
Are you confident that you were the number one choice?
Coach Sutton: I think so. They couldn't get Bobby (Knight), Dean (Smith), Denny (Crum), or John (Thompson). So I guess I was next on the list.
Do you have a multi-year contract?
Coach Sutton: Yes, I have a five-year contract, just what I had at Arkansas.
What about the upcoming season for the Kentucky Wildcats?
Coach Sutton: I hope we can get some players (recruits). I tell you what, you may have the Player of the Year here(Kenny Walker). He's a great player. I had some great players at Arkansas -- (Sidney) Moncrief and those great players I had. Walker could be 'Mr. Basketball' next year.
You said you were content at Arkansas, what changed your mind to come to Kentucky? Also, did you talk to Pat Dye [Auburn's athletic director] about the Auburn job?
Coach Sutton: About a week ago I went down (Arkansas) and the legislator honored me. I went in the Senate, and The House of Representatives, and the Governor -- Bill Clinton the Governor of Arkansas -- is a great friend of ours. Like I said this is the only job I would ever take. James Martin is the president of Auburn University and used to be the president of the University of Arkansas and is a good friend. He and I talked, but I never was interested in Auburn. Again, I want to reemphasize this is the only job I would ever go for.
After Coach Hall's resignation you mentioned that you were not interested in the Kentucky job. Is that true? - Coach Sutton: I didn't apply. I told Cliff yesterday that I didn't think he was ever going to call. But he did. I'm just so excited to be here.
Was that your first discussion (Monday) about the job?
Coach Sutton: Yes.
Did you have your mind made up that if Kentucky wanted you to be coach you would accept?
Coach Sutton: I did. I told our sons and Patsy that if they offered me the jb I was coming to Kentucky.
What about coaching at Kentucky?
Coach Sutton: I'm very confident tht I can coach the game of basketball. I had a great teacher and have had great assistants along the way. I don't think it's more difficult to coach here at Kentucky than it is at Arkansas or a lot of other places. One thing Mr. Rupp and I have in common, we both are from' Kansas.
It's been mentioned that Kenny Walker doesn't know if he wants to stay at Kentucky and play for a new coach during his upcoming senior year. Could you comment on that?
Coach Sutton: I'd better get over and talk to him right now (Sutton smiles).
Note Walker has mentioned that he will remaain at Kentucky to finish his college basketball career during his senior season and earn his degree)
Is this the best coaching job in the nation?
Coach Sutton: I already said it was the No. 1 coaching job in America, and that includes the NBA.
What are your feelings about the SEC as a basketball conference?
Coach Sutton: It's one of the four best leagues in the country from top to bottom.
In a released statement, former UK coach Joe B. Hall said he was very happy with the university's decision to hire you as the new coach. Does that make you feel better?
Introducing Eddie To The Media