STILLWATER — Eddie Sutton thought he did the right thing five years ago when he insisted — rather vehemently to Oklahoma State officials — that his son be anointed head coach designate. What father worth a darn wouldn't want what's best for his child? But in the end, Sean Sutton's surname wound up being a curse, not a blessing. Without the last name of Sutton, Sean would not have inherited the job as OSU men's basketball coach. And because of that last name, Sean will now start receiving severance pay. Sean leaves OSU with a career winning percentage of .574 (39-29). Eddie's career winning percentage, pending his next job out of the blue, stands at .710 (804-328). Two-plus seasons ago, the Cowboys went from playing for "Coach Sutton” to playing for "Coach Sean,” and there's a world of difference between the two. Through absolutely no fault of his own, Sean is no Eddie. But expectations were disgustingly similar. OSU athletic director Mike Holder admitted as much when he bid adieu to Sean on Tuesday. "I think at the end of the day, I think that Sean was probably a victim of those expectations,” Holder said. "He was put in a tough situation. It's hard enough to follow a legend. But when that legend is your father, it's probably tough to the third power. Perhaps in a different set of circumstances he would have enjoyed more success.” Eddie exited with a massive fall from grace, which didn't do Sean any favors. In many ways, Sean was done before he started. Holder insisted the firing of two Suttons was purely business. "A lot of people say this has personal issues involved. None, whatsoever,” Holder said. "I like coach Sutton, both Sean and Eddie.” Holder said Sean's fate was not sealed during the season. "I've got to tell you, I was back and forth for a long time,” Holder said of deciding to fire Sean. "A lot of sleepless nights. No one ever told me when I became athletic director it was going to be this tough. It's a tiring period of time for me.” Rather oddly, Holder began his news conference by thanking Eddie for all he did for OSU. "He came back and restored the swagger in basketball,” Holder said. "I can't say enough about what he did for OSU.” If you walked in late to the news conference, you'd swear Holder was firing Sean and Eddie. While Holder rules the athletic department with an iron fist, he allows coaches to do their own thing. "I'm not a micromanager,” Holder said. "I'm not one to come in there and tell a coach how to run his program. I didn't want that from an athletic director (when I was a coach). I'm sensitive to that for coaches. If they come to advice, I'm willing to give my input. But I don't profess to be a basketball coach, a football coach, a track coach.” Several times Holder said Sean's firing "is what it is.” Sean needs to view this as a blessing. He needs to get a job on his own merits, not his father's. If Eddie offers to help in his son's job search, Sean needs to say, "Thanks, Dad. I'd rather do this on my own.” Sean is a good enough coach to succeed on his own. And it's time his father allowed that to happen, no matter how good his intentions.
Mike Holder will now begin his first coach search as athletic director at Oklahoma State. by CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN