OSU basketball: 5 takeaways from 'Eddie,' the documentary chronicling Eddie Sutton's life
STILLWATER — “Eddie” opens with chilling 911 call recordings from 2006, the night of Eddie Sutton’s drunken-driving crash in Stillwater. From that moment, it’s obvious this documentary is pulling no punches.
The much-anticipated deep dive into Oklahoma State’s legendary men’s basketball coach made its debut Monday night on ESPN. It offered a raw, emotional and deep look into Sutton.
There were plenty of highs — turning Creighton, Arkansas and OSU into Final Four teams — and plenty of lows — his issues with alcohol and the pain of the 2001 plane crash that claimed 10 lives.
It also offered an intimate look into Sutton’s family.
Finally, it closed with a new ending of Sutton receiving news of his Hall of Fame induction seven weeks before his death.
Here are five takeaways from the documentary, which is available to watch on ESPN+. The network has not yet released a schedule of other scheduled showings.
1. Eddie’s greatest struggles
Around 50 minutes in, former Kentucky great Rex Chapman changed the tone of the entire documentary with a strong statement.
“I’ve never told anybody this, but most of my freshman year he was drunk,” Chapman said. “He didn’t drink in public. At games there were times he was all right, but never great my freshman year.”
Chapman then told a story about Sutton in a postgame news conference. He put his arm around Chapman, who had a huge game, and joked that he was adopting Chapman as a son.
“He was so drunk,” Chapman said.
Sutton entered rehab for the first time in 1987, immediately changing. Chapman said Sutton was better the next season.
Sutton was reportedly sober for years, but in 2006 he relapsed. He fell and hit his head in the Gallagher-Iba Arena parking lot before driving his Dodge Durango. He later hit an SUV and then a tree. He later admitted to drinking and taking painkillers that night. He again entered rehab and took a leave of absence before later resigning.
2. Sean Sutton’s openness
As much as the documentary was about Eddie Sutton, it was about Sean Sutton.
This was as candid as Sean has been. He opened up about growing up with the goal to play for his father, his own struggles at Kentucky, the struggles with Eddie’s alcohol issues and his own struggles with addiction.
“It was much worse at home,” Sean said. “He became a different person altogether. He went from such a loving, caring guy to somebody that became easily frustrated, angry at times and would lash out.
“My mom and I got the worst of it. He was never a violent person. He never raised his hand to anybody. But his words, things were said because of his drinking that were hurtful.”
Sean also later became a “scapegoat” to the recruiting scandal at Kentucky that led to Eddie’s resignation. Sean shouldered the burden before ultimately transferring.
Later, he played for Eddie at OSU and then joined his coaching staff. Sean became OSU’s coach after Eddie resigned. Sean resigned in 2008.
When Sean entered rehab following an arrest for drug charges in 2010, he confronted Eddie about their past.
“We relived those conversations, the hurtful ones that stayed with me,” Sean said. “Things that needed to be said, things that needed to be addressed to move our relationship forward.”
3. Strength after tragedy
Eddie never got over the plane crash on Jan. 27, 2001, near Strasburg, Colorado, that claimed 10 lives.
But he was also never stronger than in the days after.
Eddie personally called each family of the victims.
“It was the most difficult thing that I’ve ever been faced with was to call the parents and wives of some of the men that they had all died,” Sutton said in the film. “They had all gone down in the crash.”
Highlights of Eddie’s strong message at the memorial service played. He talked personally about each of the 10 who perished.
Once basketball resumed, the sport became part of the healing. OSU beat Missouri nine days later in the first game since the crash.
The entire segment was powerful.
4. ‘Pretty Patsy’
Eddie adored his wife, Patsy, and that became obvious just minutes into the documentary with pictures of their college days together at Oklahoma A&M.
“I remember when I first saw her she was not only beautiful, she was great,” Eddie said. “We just hit it off.”
As the documentary said, there was always a sparkle in Eddie’s eye about Patsy. Even newspaper articles captured that, labeling her “Pretty Patsy” in headlines.
“He always introduced her as his No. 1 assistant,” Eddie’s daughter-in-law Trena said.
5. Humble beginnings
As great as the documentary is, don't overlook the beginning.
After leading Tulsa Central High to four state championships in seven years, Eddie headed to the collegiate level.
But there was a risk for his first adventure.
In 1966, he became the head coach of the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho. But when he arrived and pulled up to a gas station, he asked where the college was in town.
The man working asked what he was talking about. The campus hadn’t been built yet.
Eddie still went 83-14 before taking over at Creighton.
From there, the story of Eddie Sutton really took off throughout the next 112 minutes.
There were great clips of “The Eddie Sutton Show,” great outfits, his famous perm and more.