Coach cracked bones in back from fall

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton expects to be fully recovered from an offseason back injury in time for the Cowboys' season opener.

Sutton, who cracked bones in his lower back in a fall, carried a wooden cane on the sideline during the Cowboys' open practice Saturday in front of about 10,000 fans at Gallagher-Iba Arena in a celebration leading up to the school's homecoming football game.

"It'll heal," said Sean Sutton, Eddie Sutton's son and the team's designated head coach. "The best thing he can do is rest."

Eddie Sutton drew laughs from the crowd when he joked that he had the cane so he could trip referees that made objectionable calls, and play the role of Chester in a reprisal of the old
television show "Gunsmoke."

But Sutton reassured the crowd that he would be back healthy to lead the Cowboys in the regular season.

Sean Sutton said his father's participation in preseason practices might be limited because the sessions typically last about three hours.

"He'll be there," Sean Sutton said. "He might not be able to stay the entire time."

Eddie Sutton, 68, required stitches to his nose after being bumped on an escalator and falling at the Los Angeles International Airport in July. Sean Sutton said his father injured his back in a
separate fall back in Oklahoma.

The Cowboys return four starters from the team that went to the Final Four last season. Oklahoma State lost to Georgia Tech in the semifinals.

"We'll have more pressure and more expectations than we've ever faced, and there's nothing wrong with that," Sean Sutton said. "We've never been one to hide our goals either. We want to be able to play for the national title.

"Now, it's harder going back the second time around. I think there's more quality teams in college basketball right now than there was a year ago," he said. "At the same time, our guys have that focus and have that attitude. They feel they've worked extremely hard and they understand it's not going to be easy and they're going to have to earn it."