Former OSU basketball coach Eddie Sutton at the memorial for the 10 men killed in the 2001 plane crash. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman Archive.
He's an Oklahoma legend. A hero to some. A tragic figure to others. A fabulous coach to all. But is he a villain?
Some family members of the victims have called Sutton a “rock” for the comfort he helped provide after the crash, and certainly Sutton provided impressive leadership to the entire university.
But family members of a couple of victims harbored ill feelings. Pat Noyes' father, Dan Sr., claimed that his son was killed by Sutton. Daniel Lawson's father, Daniel Sr., claimed Sutton forced Daniel Jr. to board a plane he didn't want to board.
Time has helped those hurts. Dan Noyes has reached out to the Suttons. Phyllis Lawson, Daniel's mother, last week had nothing but positive things to say about OSU.
But the old coach still wonders. Sutton admits to apprehension about a dinner Wednesday night, before the OSU-Texas game, that will serve as a reunion for the victim's families.
“I really had mixed emotions about it,” Sutton said.
“It will be great to see all these people and certainly to remember all the youngsters. There's hardly a day that goes by that I don't think about one of 'em. Could be Pat Noyes or Bill (Teegins) or Jared Weiberg or Will Hancock. It's a celebration in that we're remembering some wonderful fellows.”
But, Sutton said, “I'm not sure there aren't some adverse feelings, too, when you bring that back up about the catastrophe. I hope everybody has healed a little bit.”
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.