After tournament defeat, Otzelberger goes on Vegas bender, never seen again

Loss leaves SDSU reeling and confused


In an unfortunate turn of events for fans of the South Dakota State men’s basketball team, their worst fears have been confirmed.

Initial rumors emerged that former head coach T.J. Otzelberger had split town and gone on a bender in Las Vegas, Nevada. Reports from The Collegian, SDSU’s campus newspaper, confirm that Otzelberger’s Sin City move is permanent, and he will not return to Brookings.

The episode follows the Jackrabbits’ humbling defeat at the hands of Western Illinois in the Summit League tournament. The heavily favored Jacks were trounced by a team they’d beaten by 20 just one week prior.

The loss, factored in with the thought of the pending loss of star Mike Daum, pushed Otzelberger over the edge, according to SDSU athletic director Justin Sell.

“The situation is nothing short of unfortunate,” Sell commented. “This is a very challenging time for our program. We wish T.J. the best.”

After the loss to the Leathernecks, Otzelberger was furious, and it appeared that matters had spiraled out of control. Irate that the Jacks had missed on a shot at March Madness, Otzelberger turned to vice.

The situation reached a boiling point when SDSU lost to Texas in the first round of the NIT. The fact that a 16-16 Longhorns squad had a No. 2 seed in the NIT while the Jackrabbits settled for a No. 7 seed ticked off Otzelberger. The whole NIT debacle pushed him off the deep end.

After the Jackrabbits’ charter plane landed back in Brookings, Otzelberger got in his car, went to McDonald’s — Brookings’s finest dining establishment — for six Big Macs and headed west. Senior Tevin King said that he had never seen the head coach angrier. Not even when North Dakota State wound up claiming the Summit League title that SDSU should’ve won.

Since then, it’s been weeks of drinking, gambling and all sorts of bacchanal for Otzelberger. Employees at the MGM Grand Casino have told TMZ that a delusional Otzelberger has been seen hounding bookies, trying to bet on SDSU as the “trendy No. 12 seed that reaches the Sweet 16.”

Nevertheless, loyal to the Summit League, he bet half of his $350,000 salary on the Bison to upset Duke. Adding insult to injury, NDSU lost to the Blue Devils, leaving Otzelberger nearly broke.

Otzelberger’s bender seemingly would have negative implications for his career prospects, but the situation has actually proven fortuitous. The University of Nevada – Las Vegas had just ditched their former head coach.

Hearing an accomplished mid-major coach was in town, UNLV made their move, hiring Otzelberger to coach the Runnin’ Rebels. Between Otzelberger and the team itself, the university now has two reclamation projects on its hands.

Leave a Reply