November 15, 2010
When Morehead State women's basketball coach Tom Hodges returned to his office after Friday afternoon's season-opening 82-48 loss to Kentucky, he knew exactly why he had a message from a reporter waiting for him on his desk.
"It wasn't because of our offensive execution, that's for sure," Hodges deadpanned.
Indeed, Hodges probably will receive far more attention this season for the design of his clothes rather than the design of his offense.
Hoping to generate publicity for the unheralded Morehead State women's basketball program by any means necessary, the first-year coach has agreed to wear clothing from John Daly's PGA Tour clothing sponsor, LoudMouth Golf, during games this season. His ensemble for the Kentucky game consisted of an eye-popping diamond-patterned suit of blue, white and gold, matching gold socks and white dress shoes.
"It's funny I'm going down this road because I couldn't be anymore conservative in general," Hodges said. "I'm a gray-suit-white-shirt-blue-tie kind of guy. To step out like this, is way outside my comfort zone, but I'm for the betterment of Morehead State and getting us a little piece of the spotlight no matter what it takes."
Hodges plans to keep up this attention-seeking stunt all season because any extra publicity will surely help a program that averaged less than 1,000 fans a game last season and has historically struggled to attract top recruits. Morehead State won 22 games a year ago and made its first-ever postseason appearance, but the Eagles experienced 10 straight losing seasons in the '90s and 2000s and have only captured a league championship once.
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The idea to alter his wardrobe occurred to Hodges as he and an assistant were brainstorming about ways to generate publicity for the program while driving to see a recruit this summer. An avid golf fan, Hodges realized that Daly received a lot of press from his clothing, so he sent an email to several executives with LoudMouth Golf.
"Within two minutes, Larry Jackson, the CEO, calls me on my cell phone and says if you're willing to wear it, we'll send it," Hodges said. "It's a win-win for them if they get some publicity out of it too."
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The shipment that Hodges received this summer included a couple suits for each of his assistants and 15 of the "wildest, craziest pairs of pants you can imagine" for him. Much to the chagrin of his wife, he tried to get accustomed to the flashy new clothes while on their second honeymoon in Antigua this summer.
Though Hodges had donned a gaudy blue-and-white checkered sports coat at Ohio Valley Conference Media Day last month, none of his players had ever seen him in one of his new outfits until Friday's season opener. They got their giggling out of the way in the pregame locker room, but opposing players couldn't help but chuckle when Hodges walked onto the court.
"When he first came out I thought it was like the halftime performance or something," Kentucky guard A'dia Mathies told reporters after the game. "And then I realized it was their coach."
Hodges doesn't care if his peers chuckle at his attire behind his back as long as he feels it's helping the Morehead State program sustain the flash of success it achieved under former coach Mike Bradbury. The Eagles' second game is Monday night at Notre Dame and Hodges promises his attire will be just as memorable as Friday night's.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with the grey suits and blue ties in my closet," he said, chuckling. "If you know somebody looking, I'll give them a heck of a deal."