Joe Hall had the task of following a legend in Adolph Rupp, but Sutton had a tougher job overcoming his own self, at a time in his career when he was searching for the big break that would put him over the top in the collegiate circles.
Sutton made his mark at Creighton and Arkansas, but those programs were a step below Kentucky on a national scale. Sutton was seeking a climb up the proverbial career ladder. Kentucky called and he answered without hesitation.
When Sutton was introduced as Hall's successor, he indicated that he would have crawled to Lexington to coach the Wildcats. Sutton was determined to be successful, but just maybe coaching a program the size of Kentucky may have been too much for Sutton at the time.
Apparent drinking problems did nothing to enhance his chances at survival on the hardwood at Kentucky.
Although the former Kentucky coach brought greatness to the program and several memorable moments during his brief stay in the Bluegrass, his stint was marred by a recruiting scandal that took the program from the top of the world to what seemed like a bottomless pit at the time. After leaving Kentucky, Sutton returned to his roots at Oklahoma State and did a fantastic job of taking the program to bigger heights after former Kentucky assistant coach Leonard Hamilton had laid the foundation.
As for the dark moments that ended his career as coach at Kentucky, all is forgiven. The end result led to a pair of national championships during the 1990s, while Sutton helped put Oklahoma State back on the map in college basketball.
In the end, both parties benefited from Sutton's departure and Sutton grew and learned from the painful experience.
The good part of being a human being is learning from your past to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Sutton obviously learned from his coaching staff's costly recruiting errors at Kentucky, and helped him keep a closer eye on his immediate surroundings.
As far as anyone can tell and based on he school's history under his watch, Sutton ran a clean program in Stillwater and is leaving things in good hands with hand-picked successor Sean Sutton.
The only exception was obviously Sutton's inability to pass up the bottle. Maybe he will keep others from making the same mistake as a motivational speaker.
Despite his tainted history a Kentucky, the one bad experience shouldn't deny him a spot along some of the legends in college basketball. His record speaks for itself.