Sports fans can be a pretty unforgiving bunch. Well, that’s not really fair. Human beings as a group are generally pretty harsh on celebrities. We love to daydream about living their lives almost as much as we love watching them screw up and come back down to our level. That’s why Larry Eustachy will probably never hear the end of the jokes about his past – the public drinking with students during road trips that led to his downfall at Iowa State.
But that was nine years ago. Nine. Years.
If we revel in the fall of a celebrity, because it makes him “just like us”, then shouldn’t we respect the second chance on an even deeper level? Doesn’t it behoove us to advocate leniency at the top, in hopes that the practice of allowing for forgiveness and redemption will trickle down to the rest of us?
If so, we should be happy for Larry Eustachy, who got clean and sober, made the most of his second chance at Southern Miss., and now says he’s ready to stick with Colorado State for the long haul. Eustachy knows the first thing people think of when they hear his name — the upturned beer can in his hand, as he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with kids half his age — and he’s determined to face it head-on.
“It’s time to move on and close my final chapter in coaching,” Eustachy said in his inaugural press conference in Fort Collins. “And also what is really important to me is sobriety.”
Eustachy isn’t just talking for the cameras. He’s putting his money where his mouth is. The Denver Post reports that Eustachy’s base salary is $500,000 per year, with incentives that could push it as high as $1.1 million. That’s a nice stack of cheddar, and Eustachy could keep it all for himself and his family, but he’s dedicated to helping others with his disease hit the ‘reset’ button.
“Eustachy is closing in on nine years without alcohol and plans on donating a portion of his salary to establish a foundation and create a sober-living home, which is a place for individuals to go after treatment for alcoholism,” the paper reported.
Colorado State AD Jack Graham has said he has an incredible amount of respect for Eustachy. It’s respect that’s well-earned. Becoming a BCS-level head coach is hard work, but it’s also fun, and the fulfillment of a dream for many. Getting sober, and staying sober, is hard work toward the refutation of a nightmare. Eustachy has survived both, and his commitment to helping shepherd others through the process is commendable.