Multiple former Razorbacks, both players and staff, participated in a Zoom on Tuesday to share stories of Eddie Sutton and discuss his election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Coach Sutton listened in on the Zoom as Charles Balentine, Sidney Moncrief, Joe Kleine, Corey Williams, Doc Sadler, Ron Brewer and Houston Nutt all shared memories of their time with him.
Jim Counce, who played at Arkansas from 1975-78, kicked things off by saying, “It didn’t matter to us from a standpoint of the fact that we knew we played for a hall of fame coach. We didn’t have to have any type of affirmation.”
Balentine, who is known for hitting a game-winning shot to defeat top ranked North Carolina by one point in 1984, echoed Counce’s sentiments saying he too knew Sutton was a hall of fame coach. Adding, “being from Arkansas was special and I think you (Sutton) made it that way. You made it to where we wanted to be a Razorback.” Balentine also thanks coach Sutton for allowing him the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a Razorback. “Couldn’t have done it without you,” says Balentine.
Moncrief then remembered the time coach Sutton told him, “You couldn’t guard my grandmother and she’s dead.” But that’s not the only time Sutton was hard on him. Moncrief also recalled a time a practice when he was attempting a “crazy move” to which Sutton said, “Sidney! You might do that junk on the playgrounds at Little Rock but at Arkansas you can’t do that here.”
Clearly, Sutton’s tough love paid off though.
Moncrief, who was part of Sutton’s 1978 Final Four team, says Sutton developed a system that allowed his players to excel. He also added, “When you talk about great coaches, you have to look at players he coached outside of basketball. Most of his former players, everyone on this video, we have very productive lives and have had an impact on other people’s lives. That’s really an indication of great coaching.”
Like Moncrief, Joe Kleine also has a lot of respect for coach Sutton.
Kleine transferred to Arkansas after one season at Notre Dame and says, “The first thing I ever heard about Arkansas, I was driving around in Missouri. Back then we only had AM radio. So we clicked it on and I’d hear these people hootin’ and hollering, they were calling the Hogs. I didn’t know what the heck they were doing.”
During his time at Arkansas, Kleine says Sutton became like family. Especially after his father passed away the year after he graduated college. Kleine says, “the words of encouragement and the calmness that he gave me were words that a father would give to his son. I would not have made it, or been as good a player, trying to deal with that without him.”
Kleine also joked about his reasoning behind not coming to Arkansas straight out of high school. He says he grew up a very devout Catholic and chose God over coach Sutton saying, “I was wrong and I’ll admit that.”
Current Arkansas assistant coach, Corey Williams, was also on the Zoom call. Williams played under coach Sutton at Oklahoma State from 1991-92. He remembered when Sutton first got the job at OSU and says he and a friends were going to miss the first team meeting. Williams goes on to explain, “Sutton calls us in the next day and asks where were you guys at? I said, coach, we went and got some ice cream. Then he said I want you to know that’s your first and last meeting you will ever miss here, or you wont be here.”
Williams also says Sutton had a way of telling you how you felt.
After being drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs out of the blue, the head coach at OSU decided he wanted Williams to come play football for him. Coach Sutton then spoke with Williams and asked him, “Do you want to play football for Oklahoma State? Do you?” Williams says he then responded, “I took that as, no.”
Former Arkansas head football coach, Houston Nutt, later reflected on his experiences with coach Sutton. As many know, Nutt was a quarterback at Arkansas under Frank Broyles. However, he also joined the basketball team during the 1976 season to play under Sutton.
Nutt says it was a privilege, “watching this great coach handle great players.”
He also mentioned how he loved being a part of the team even though he didn’t contribute that much because for him, it was what happened off the court. Nutt says, “the conversations we had during those years were really special to me.”
To hear more from Nutt and all the other former Razorbacks on the call, watch the video above.