John E. Hoover: Patsy Sutton was always there for her sons
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Saturday, January 12, 2013
1/12/13 at 7:25 AM
Jerry Jones talks Sutton: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was in Tulsa on Friday for the Patsy Sutton memorial service. Read what he had to say about her.
Go to John E. Hoover's blog.
SHE WAS a lady of uncommon grace and resolve, a woman who was the strength of her family, and whose family was her strength.
Patsy Sutton was exquisite dignity and understated elegance, unbending faith and unseen power, all wrapped up in a doting sports mom.
"I don't remember my mom ever missing a game," Sean Sutton said. "And I mean from the time I first started playing in the first grade. And if it came down to watching one of our games or watching the Razorbacks play, she always chose her sons."
Patsy Sutton, 74, died Tuesday after a stroke on Dec. 28, and was eulogized Friday at First United Methodist Church in downtown Tulsa. Luminaries like Jerry Jones, Frank Broyles, Bill Self, Ken Hayes, Mike Gundy, Travis Ford, Joe Castiglione and scores of ex-players who suited up for Patsy's famous husband, Eddie Sutton, paid their respects.
On Thursday night, Sean and younger brother Scott - assistant coach and head coach, respectively, of the Oral Roberts University men's basketball team - led the Golden Eagles to a dramatic home victory over Southland Conference opponent Northwestern State.
And on Friday afternoon, Eddie, Sean, Scott and older brother Steve laid their matriarch to rest.
Friday was emotional, of course. So was Thursday.
"I thought about (this) tonight: This is the first time I'm ever gonna be involved in a game that my mom isn't gonna be watching or listening or attending," Sean whispered prior to the Northwestern State game, his lip quivering. "After the game, whether it was in person or on the road, she always sent a text message or she'd always call, something, regardless of the outcome. It just kind of hit me walking in tonight."
Scott Sutton was wondering how he would manage his emotions after Thursday's game.
"One thing I'll miss is walking from the (court), doing my radio show and going back into my office and she was there," Scott said. "When you played bad ... she always saw something good in it. She always had a positive word and always thought that something good could come out of it."
It was their mom's irrepressible positivity that got the whole Sutton family through one tribulation after another.
Sean Sutton said, "So many of the things that our family has gone through that have been so public - you know, the NCAA investigation at Kentucky, the (2001 OSU) plane crash, my dad's (DUI) accident, me resigning (from Oklahoma State), my arrest (in 2010 on drug charges, since expunged) - it's all been out there. And she looked at every one of those things as an opportunity to improve and get better.
"I remember shortly after my arrest, I'm thinking, 'Jeez, I'm done. This is what I'm gonna be remembered for.' And I remember her telling me, 'It's what you do from here is what people are gonna remember. You've been given a wonderful opportunity to impact a lot of people because this (addiction to prescription painkillers) is an epidemic in this country.'
"That's what made her special."
Patsy Joan Wright grew up in Stillwater, attended Oklahoma A&M and married Cowboy basketball star Eddie Sutton in 1958. They moved to Tulsa in 1959 when Eddie was hired as head coach at Central High School and she began her life as a coach's wife and a sports mom.
"It's not an easy life," former Kansas and ORU coach Ted Owens said Friday, "but if ever there was a model for a coach's wife, it is Patsy Sutton. She was the rock of that family."
They moved to Twin Falls, Idaho; Omaha, Neb.; Fayetteville, Ark.; and Lexington, Ky., before Eddie rebooted his career in Patsy's hometown.
"That was exciting to her, to get to move to different places and meet new people," Sean said. "She thought that was all part of living."
When the boys came along - Steve in 1965, Sean in 1968 and Scott in 1970 - things got really interesting.
"She was involved in everything we did," Scott said.
Patsy Sutton got plenty of time behind the wheel getting the boys to practice and games - theirs and their father's.
Sean played football, Scott played baseball, and naturally everyone played basketball, Steve through high school and Sean and Scott through college for their dad. Their mom hardly ever missed a bucket.
"We grew up loving the game so much, we talked about it all the time at home," Scott said. "Conversations at the dinner table would turn to basketball."
Relaxing in oversized leather chairs in the Mabee Center players' lounge 90 minutes before tipoff Thursday, Sean and Scott Sutton tried to recall whether their mom had actually ever played sports.
"She may have played tennis a little bit? Tried tennis? I'm not sure," Scott said. "I don't know if I ever saw her shoot a basketball. Well, I know I've never seen her shoot one."
"I don't think I did, either," Sean said.
But not playing never inhibited her adoration of the game that made her men Oklahoma celebrities. It was recently estimated she had attended some 1,500 games in her lifetime (Sean said she thought that sounded low), from Eddie's playing days under Henry Iba at old Gallagher Hall to the games her sons coached at ORU to the events at which she tracked her nine grandchildren.
She sat courtside at 29 NCAA Tournaments, three Final Fours, six NITs and most of Eddie's 804 career victories, Scott's 258 and Sean's 39.
"I don't think she ever played basketball, but she understood the game," Sean said. "She understood it as well as a lot of people that coach it."Original Print Headline: Sutton always there for sons
World Sports Writer Jimmie Tramel contributed to this story.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self (left) greets his friend, Tulsa accountant Neil Gilpin, outside First United Methodist Church in Tulsa on Friday. Self attended a memorial service for former OSU men's basketball coach Eddie Sutton's wife, Patsy Sutton. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World