OSU basketball: Texas Tech's Chris Beard emphatically behind Eddie Sutton's Hall of Fame campaign
STILLWATER — Texas Tech coach Chris Beard wanted to deliver an emphatic message.
It’s why his team wore special warm-up shirts honoring Cowboys coaching legend Eddie Sutton.
“Hall of Fame” stretched across the front. “Coach Sutton” was the back nameplate, above “806,” the number of Sutton’s career victories.
“One thing's important is that the forefathers, the ambassadors of our game, the best people that have ever coached our game should be in the Hall of Fame,” Beard said following OSU’s 73-70 upset Saturday afternoon in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
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But Beard did not stop there. He delivered a passionate plea for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to induct Sutton this year, his seventh as a finalist.
“I’m not on that panel and I don’t really have much of a voice,” Beard said, “but you asked the question and I’ll proudly answer it. You know, I think it’s one of the worst things about our game. It’s just wrong that Coach Eddie Sutton’s not in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
“He’s won everywhere he’s been, he’s a gentleman, he’s a coach’s coach, his players went on to graduate and be productive people. Just simply stated, he’s one of the classiest guys I’ve ever known, and he’s a damn-good basketball coach.”
Beard is in his third season as head coach at Texas Tech. But he remembers being an assistant under Bobby Knight during a period when opposing head coaches rarely acknowledged assistants. Not Sutton. He always talked with opposing assistants.
And Sutton was always open to Beard attending practice or games in Stillwater when Beard coached at Seminole State.
“He’s first class,” Beard said.
That’s why the shirts were so important.
“I don't know how that deal works with the votes at all, but I know right from wrong, and I've been around basketball enough to have an opinion,” Beard said. “Eddie Sutton should have been in the Hall of Fame long ago, and I just hope that they get it right this time.
“He's a great coach and even better person. There's nobody in the Hall of Fame that's more deserving than Coach Sutton. So today for our team to show some respect, I'm glad that we did that.”