Today at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, CO there was plenty of talk about rehab, sobriety and that CSU will be Larry Eustachy's last stop. After Tony Frank announced Mr. Eustachy, Jack Graham took the stand. He had interviewed a list of 12 candidates and then narrowed them down to a "final 4." The candidates had 4-hour long interviews. Eustachy later said he had endured three rounds of Jack Graham interviews. Graham also told a few of us afterwards that this was the hardest hire he has ever gone through in his professional career.
Just like J-Mac, when asked why he chose CSU, he pointed at Tony Frank and Jack Graham. He said that they had the vision to take CSU to the next level. Dedication with the right amount of resources coupled with extreme due diligence. He jokingly said that Jack Graham told him he was the first choice all along, although there had been reports of two other coaches hired before Eustachy (Neal and Kent). The acoustics in the auditorium were not properly set up, for just one side, and it was a bit hard to understand everything. Without knowing it, I had accidentally sat next to his two sons straight ahead of the podium, but back far enough to see over the television cameras. Sorry I can't figure out how to get pictures on here, not that my iPhone pics are very good.Each one in turn, Frank, Graham and then Eustachy told the very light crowd what to expect: pictures, questions, and the like. But that those times were over. Eustachy talked about the pictures and said that we could also see pictures of him kissing an 88 year old man in a leprechaun outfit: he was a hugger and a kisser. He also dutifully introduced his wife, commented on her black dress and told us later that although she was in a dress, she really wore the pants... He mentioned how he actually took a cab home from the co-ed kissing party in Columbia. When I reflect on the whole episode, it is a shame that this man's on-court accomplishments will always be overshadowed by a frat party on the Missou campus and that he has that following him around everywhere he goes. Nine years later and that incident was the main subject.
LE said that he will be donating a portion of his salary to a new foundation that he will create in Fort Collins. He and his wife love the area and said that is why they chose to come here and that the foundation would consume his efforts after he retires from CSU. The foundation will be for sober homes, helping students with substance abuse. He then told us how he had been sober for over 9 years. On campus today, there was celebration in athletics, but in other areas of campus people were whispering about the wisdom of the hire. To this I say: "Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone" (John 8:7).
The theme for his talk today was, as he said, humility. He repeated the word several times over the span of his discussion. He called the incident in Missouri a blessing, because he had been a "rock star" and had to learn humility. Through the whole speech, he was at times funny, he would ramble and then catch himself, sometimes remorseful and in the end, dutiful. He had had steaks with the basketball team at Jack Graham's house the night before and seemed to be happy, calm and subdued.
After the official question and answer, with the usual questions about Ju-Co transfers, making Fort Collins the final stop, the competition and the expectations, which Jack Graham and Larry Eustachy have set at winning the MW and getting to the sweet 16 sooner rather than later, the interesting parts began. Eustachy was cornered by the reporters and was asked many of the questions he had just answered, again. He dutifully answered every question they threw at him with great patience.
I had the luck to be standing in between Mr. Eustachy and Jack Graham. I have yet to be in a room with Jack Graham, in which he is not the most calmly intense and interesting figure to be found. He discussed how difficult the search was: the football search for him was easy, he was a football player and knew football coaches. He hadn't played basketball since high school (he is a good 6'3"). The interesting part was the contract (I know what you are saying...).
*Eustachy's contract is for 5 years. $500,000 base salary.
*$250,000 for graduating scholar-athletes and running a clean program. (similar to McElwain)
*Perks of $100,000 up to a total of $250,000 for Winning conference championship and getting into NCAA tournament
*There is also a perk for getting to the sweet 16: $100,000
Graham considers this a base salary of $750,000 and with incentives up to $1.1 million.
Now the interesting part:
If Eustachy wants to leave in a year or two: costs him $3.75 million
a further year: $3.0 million
a further year into the contract: $2.5 million and so on
the contract will be renewed at year 3 to always leave three years on it
Here is where the dig came. Graham said that if the previous contracts (meaning Paul Kowalczyk's) had been structured this way, Nebraska would owe CSU over $2.5 million, which would give them pause before hiring! When Graham and Eustachy said that CSU was home: they meant it! For those of you in contractual law you will no doubt ask: Won't that mean you have to pay just about that much to get rid of him? Graham has left himself an out: If Eustachy's graduation rates drop below the prescribed rate for two out of three years, Graham has inserted a little disclaimer that states Eustachy's employment becomes "at will" and he can be terminated normally (little to no penalty). The same goes for any NCAA violations and if Eustachy's teams fail to win 16 games for consecutive seasons.
Graham is committed to winning and he told us Eustachy will work the team out tomorrow and then leave on recruiting trips to fill the last three scholarship spots for the coming year and look into six spots for the following year.
Immediately upon hearing this, the question came up: Did the contract components stop any coaches from wanting the job? Graham answered: absolutely not. When he was doing the final interviews, he made sure to specify that this was the deal and that he wouldn't bother interviewing candidates, who weren't interested in that kind of deal. They were all still in.
Good Luck Larry Eustachy! You have definitely earned it.