The photographs of drunken stupidity that nearly killed the coaching career of Larry Eustachy actually saved his life.
“Have you seen the pictures?” a Colorado State booster asked friends as they sat in folding chairs on the basketball arena floor, waiting for Eustachy, who walked in Moby Arena and boldly declared the goal for his Rams would be nothing less than the Final Four.
The dozen photos are from nine years ago, but they live forever, the ugly stuff of Internet legend. There’s Eustachy palming a cheap beer. Click. See Eustachy planting a sloppy kiss on the cheek of a coed less than half his age? Gotcha. Stare at the old image of an out-of-control Iowa State coach partying on the road, as a clock on the wall shows 2:03 a.m.
“I was just getting started at that time of night,” Eustachy told me Thursday. “Just stretching.”
The heavy drinking flushed him straight down the river of regret.
On a January evening in 2003, after his Cyclones lost at Missouri, Eustachy’s addiction made him one of the first celebrities to take a big, drunken pratfall into cyberspace infamy. It cost a man once proclaimed the best college coach in America his job. The disgrace forced him to Alcoholics Anonymous. Eustachy humbly crawled back across the shards of his shattered life. The photographs, however, never go away. His hiring at CSU will promote a thousand more clicks from inquiring minds who view one man’s humiliation as their snickering entertainment.
But when was the last time Eustachy looked at the photos of the bleary-eyed, inebriated basketball coach he used to be?
“I’ve never looked at the photos. Never,” confessed Eustachy, now 56 years old and proudly sober for nearly a decade.
There could be no resurrection without the downfall. It began in Columbia, Mo., during the winter of 2003, after a 64-59 loss by Iowa State to the Mizzou Tigers. Eustachy went to a local tavern to wash away the frustration of defeat.