NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) -The college basketball world spent the weekend mourning the loss of Eddie Sutton. The former college basketball coach died in Oklahoma over the weekend. Sutton was 84 years-old.
Sutton was the first coach to take four different teams to the NCAA National Tournament. Three of his teams made it to the final four. He finished his career with 806 wins and two National Coach of the Year awards. Earlier this year Sutton was announced as a member of the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“This was long overdo,” SFA men’s basketball coach Kyle Keller said. “I am glad with his time on earth he knew he was going into the Hall of Fame. This should have happened a long time ago.”
Keller spent nine years with Sutton as an assistant at Oklahoma State. He learned a lot about basketball and a lot about life under the coach. One of the hardest days for Keller and Sutton was on January 27,2001 when a plane crashed killing 10 people associated with the OSU program. Keller was supposed to be on the plane but a change in the scouting schedule had Sutton put Keller on the first plane that left Bolder, Colorado. Keller switched seats with his cousin Nate Fleming.
“I think after that he was more like a father to me,” Keller said. “He took a more personal investment in me. I wouldn’t say he didn’t care before but it was a unique situation. We were in the Stillwater airport. We ended up getting on an airplane that was exactly like the one that unfortunately went down. He looked at me and said, ‘yKle you do not have to get on this plane.’ We were going to our trainer’s funeral in Wichita. He said, ‘Kyle you make the choice, but if you don’t get on this plane you are going to have a hard time getting on planes the rest of your life. If you want to coach it is your choice. It is in God’s hands what you do. Man doesn’t control us. God does.’ I had to think about it and pray about it and he was right.”
Keller moved on from the staff and eventually made his way to the head coaching job at Stephen F. Austin. He brought everything he learned with him.
“You know two years ago when we played Texas Tech in the first round I had this play that was our go to play with coach Sutton. We ran that play one time at the game. Coach’s son was on staff Texas Tech so it was really was really cool.”
The lesson’s Keller learned are lessons he is passing down.
“He taught life by basketball," Keller said.That is the biggest thing about coach Sutton.”