Eddie Sutton Is Back On The Sideline

Eddie Sutton is back in the game. Nearly two years after announcing his retirement as head coach at Oklahoma State, the 71-year-old Sutton was announced Wednesday as the interim head coach at the University of San Francisco. Sutton, who has won 798 games during his 36 seasons as a Division I coach, will lead the Dons for the first time Friday night at Weber State.

Sutton was just two games shy of becoming just the fifth coach in NCAA Division I history to win 800 games when he retired after the 2005-06 season.

"It's very important," Sutton said Wednesday night about winning 800 games. "I had a chance earlier this year to take a Division I job and didn't think I wanted to do it. From a selfish standpoint, it is something I'm excited about. It was a goal I had for myself. I don't think nationally anybody's going to look at it and say, ‘Now you won 800 versus 798.' There's just not that much difference."

Sutton will take over for San Francisco head coach Jessie Evans, who is taking a leave of absence for the remainder of the season. The Dons are 4-8 entering Friday night's game against Weber State.

Sutton is to fly to Salt Lake City on Thursday and meet up with his new team for the first time.

Sutton, who led the Cowboys to two Final Fours, an Elite Eight and three Sweet 16 appearances during his 16 years as head coach at Oklahoma State, retired several months after a drunken driving accident forced him to take a leave of absence with 10 games remaining in the 2005-06 season. He eventually resigned and his son, Sean, took over the program.

"I've thought about that and I would say it probably does (enter into this decision)," Sutton said during a teleconference with members of the media on Wednesday night from an office at Oklahoma State. "I certainly didn't want to end my coaching career the way it ended here."

Sutton said that he spoke with USF athletic director Debra Gore-Mann a few days ago about possibly becoming the team's interim head coach. But she said that Evans didn't make a decision until Wednesday.

"I would say it's the toughest challenge that I've ever had," Sutton said. "I've had challenges before, but I'm looking forward to meeting the young men and trying to turn the season around."

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