Blog Entry

Ten games go a long way for Bruce Pearl's future

Posted on: January 4, 2011 1:51 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 3:38 pm

Posted by Matt Jones

December was not a good month for Bruce Pearl .  It is bad enough that the Tennessee coach had a losing record for the month, with four losses against the decidedly mediocre quartet or Charlotte, Oakland, USC and College of Charleston, planting the Vols decidedly on the NCAA Tournament bubble.  But then Pearl found himself the recipient of another round of “How is Bruce Pearl the coach at Tennessee?” questions following his embarrassing interview with Seth Davis on CBS.  What was once a possible season of redemption has now become simply a season of survival, as the wheels have completely blown apart the Tennessee locomotive.

January doesn’t look to be much better.  With an eight-game SEC suspension beginning on Saturday, Bruce Pearl will coach only two games for Tennessee in the month, both of which now look like must-wins for his Tournament future.  The Vols play Memphis in Knoxville on Wednesday and then make the rare trip to Storrs, Connecticut to meet Jim Calhoun and UCONN on the January 22.  Both games give Pearl’s squad a chance to get what the SEC will provide few opportunities to obtain, a resume-building win.  With Tennessee’s conference down to two ranked teams, winning at least one of the two non-conference battles is imperative and taking both may be required to go dancing this March.

And for Pearl, the NCAA Tournament may now represent much more than simply a season’s goal, it could be the difference between the continuation of his career and a move away from the major conference spotlight.  Since the revelation that Pearl lied to the NCAA, the coach has had his Tennessee contract voided and he is now working on an “at-will” basis.  The University is clearly waiting to see what sanctions will be handed down by the NCAA and whether they will inhibit Pearl’s ability to lead the Vols into the future.  For a basketball program that was on the verge of a Final Four last year and hasn’t seen consistent success since the “Ernie and Bernie” show in the 1970s, letting go of a winning coach would be difficult.  But if that same coach has watched while his team has imploded and found himself out of the NCAA Tournament in a year where the SEC is at its lowest point in over a decade…well that is a different story.

It is bizarre to imagine that in today’s NCAA world where Dez Bryant told a fib about knowing Deion Sanders and found himself out of a collegiate career, Bruce Pearl could still have a job.  But as of now, he does.  While one might argue that Pearl’s actions in the past should determine his future with the school, at this point he seems to have survived part of the storm from the NCAA sanctions.  However, with the dual realities of the acknowledged difficulty in firing a winning Coach and Pearl’s collapsing team’s next ten games featuring eight conference games from which he is suspended, one against a top ten team and the other against the school’s most heated rival, his future is far from secure.  For eighty percent of the Vols' January schedule, Pearl will not be on the sidelines and have virtually no control over the contest's outcomes.  But due to the precarious situation Pearl finds himself in, the way his team plays will not only decide whether the Vols will make the NCAA Tournament in March, it may go a long way in determining whether he will still be there this time next season.

Photo: AP

Since: Nov 25, 2007
Posted on: January 4, 2011 4:06 pm

Why has he not been fired already?

There is no way that this guy should still be coaching at a major college basketball program, after lying to investigators.  The ridiculous thing about this is that he violated the same exact rule while coaching at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and then had the nerve to pull this same thing at Tennessee --and instruct THE RECRUITS AND THEIR FAMILIES TO LIE TOO!!!?  He should be SO FIRED by now that it is just a joke.  Do you want your son to play for that guy? Not me. 

Since: May 24, 2007
Posted on: January 4, 2011 3:15 pm

Ten games go a long way for Bruce Pearl's future

it continues to amaze me that bruce pearl is still employed. he has been great for SEC basketball, as his UT teams have been not only fun to watch but competitive on a national scale. but the manner in which he has handled these accusations has left alot to be desired.

Since: May 24, 2007
Posted on: January 4, 2011 3:10 pm

Ten games go a long way for Bruce Pearl's future


Since: Jan 4, 2011
Posted on: January 4, 2011 2:55 pm

Ten games go a long way for Bruce Pearl's future

Matt Jones is a UK homer who runs a UK fan site. Why should we believe anything he says about a Tennessee coach. He also needs an editor. Tennessee and Memphis play Wednesday night, not Friday. And the January 22nd game with UConn is in Hartford, not Storrs.

Since: Jul 24, 2009
Posted on: January 4, 2011 2:06 pm

Ten games go a long way for Bruce Pearl's future

It's time for Brucie to go.  He's a hypocritical liar.

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