STILLWATER, Okla. -- Eddie Sutton smiled, knowing his alma
mater would be in good hands.
Looking back, Sutton remembered the day 14 years ago when his
mentor, Henry Iba, beamed with satisfaction that his student would
return to Oklahoma State to take over a program that had struggled
with only one NCAA Tournament appearance in 25 years.
After making his second trip to the Final Four with Oklahoma
State last year, Sutton didn't want to see the Cowboys fade again
after he retired. He got his wish Wednesday when his son, associate
head coach Sean Sutton, was chosen to succeed him whenever he
decides to retire.
This time, he played Iba's role.
"I think I have that same smile on my face today," Eddie
Sutton said. "I had great concern whoever it was could carry on
what we have established here. I'm sure there's some other coaches
around the country that could do that, but no one would I entrust
more this program than Sean."
Sean Sutton has been with his father for most of his basketball
development. He has been on his father's coaching staff at Oklahoma
State for 11 seasons and was named associate head coach in 2000.
Sutton, 35, also played two years under his father at Kentucky and
two more years after both came to Oklahoma State in 1990.
His only year away was in 1993 when he served as an assistant
coach at Mississippi.
"I've prepared my whole life to be in this moment," Sean
Sutton said, "and I will do my best to try to make it work."
Sean Sutton is the mind behind Oklahoma State's offense. He sets
up and calls many of the plays the Cowboys use to complement their
signature defense, which his father learned as a player and an
assistant coach for Iba.
"If the truth were known, he probably has coached more the last
five to six years than I have," Eddie Sutton said.
"If I hadn't had Sean here, believe me, I would have retired
long before now."
Athletic director Harry Birdwell said it was important for the
Cowboys to lock up Sutton so he didn't get away. Sutton was among
the top candidates earlier this year when SMU was looking for a new
Birdwell also said it would prevent other schools from negative
recruiting against Oklahoma State for what might be perceived as an
uncertain coaching situation.
"I think negatively recruiting against us will come to a
screeching halt when people know that there will be a logical
transition whenever it occurs, and that it'll be another Sutton
equally able on our bench," Birdwell said.
It's uncertain exactly when Eddie Sutton might retire and Sean
Sutton replace him.
"I want him to coach as long as he wants to coach," Sean
Sutton said. "He deserves that."
Eddie Sutton, who has a 755-292 career record, has said he would
like to reach the 800-win mark before retiring -- an accomplishment
that would take him at least two more years.
Sean Sutton also said he would like to see his father have
another chance to win a national championship.
Sutton, 68, has taken the Cowboys to a postseason tournament in
13 of his 14 seasons at Oklahoma State and won 20 or more games 12
of those years. In his 34-year career at Creighton, Arkansas,
Kentucky and Oklahoma State, only one of his teams has had a losing
Sutton has led the Cowboys to two Final Fours, including last season
when they lost 67-65 to Georgia Tech in the national semifinals.
Sean Sutton is the second of Eddie Sutton's three sons. His
youngest son, Scott Sutton, is the coach of Oral Roberts University