Tonight, our Jeff Goodman and former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl will begin a new endeavor together. The two of them will be hosting a weekly radio show on Sirius XM Radio channel 91. It’s called “SiriusXM College Basketball Today.”
Goodman was too lazy to write a post about this himself. Also, because of a conflict of interest, he couldn’t exactly interview Pearl about the gig. So I did. Plus, we don’t really care what Goodman has to say about the show—he’ll do fine and alienate himself to as many fan bases as possible. As for Pearl? I focused more on him, now, than the show. That’s just below these details:
Tonight’s show will have Rick Pitino, Tu Holloway, Josh Pastner, Scott Drew and Kevin Stallings. Goodman wanted representation from each guy at a top-15-ranked team. With Vandy’s loss to Cleveland State, this has backfired.
The show has its special airing tonight from 6 to 8 p.m., ET, but will normally run from noon to 3 p.m. ET every Monday through December. When January comes, the show is twice-a-week, Mondays and Thursdays, same starting time.
As for Pearl, he’s still working for H.T. Hackney Co., a wholesale distributor that purchases, warehouses and distribute “about 90 percent of what a consumer would find in a convenience store,” Pearl said. (What a departure, huh?) Pearls’ office is in downtown Knoxville, but he spends half his time on the road “because you can’t hunt bear in the lodge.”
It’s the fourth-largest company of its kind in the country. There are 28 warehouses in 20 states. Pearl is the VP of marketing.
The radio job came to be because Pearl’s wanted to do this for a long time. He envisioned himself getting into color commentary for television about five or six years ago—before the Tennessee job came along and his life changed forever. He thought he’d be calling games for the rest of his life, not coaching them.
“I didn’t anticipate that I would mess up so badly, and that opportunity would need to be presenting itself at this time,” Pearl said. “But it’s always been out there, that at some point, after I was done coaching, that this is what I wanted to do. I hope I get to do both TV and radio.”
My question to Pearl was this: A year ago today, if I asked you where you expected to be, what would you have said?
“A year ago today I would’ve guessed that we would’ve gone through a lot but I still would be working at Tennessee,” he said. “I thought they were going to stay with me. I came forward with the mistakes I had made, but it was a very difficult season to go through. The media scrutiny, the suspension by (SEC commissioner) Mike Slive, and so I was disappointed and surprised that the university made the change.”
It was a year ago that Tennessee won its first early-season NIT tournament—in New York, where Pearl will call the first radio show tonight with Goodman, in Manhattan. I pressed him on how he’ll criticize and critique his former colleagues. Is he going to go soft? He said no—but he won’t be critical, either.
“As a coach, it is your tendency, just by virtue of the knowledge of how difficult the job is, there can be a tendency, having walked in those coaches moccasins, you have a better perspective.,” Pearl said. “I will be offering opinions, opposed to criticism. I may say this is how I would do something or feel about that, but if it’s different from the coaches, it won’t be a criticism—just how I would have approached them.”
Pearl has a radio background. He did three hours a day at WTMJ in Milwaukee in 2004/05.
So he’ll do this with Goodman during the season, keep up his duties with H.T. Hackney … and is getting back into coaching on the docket?
“At this time, that’s not the first on the list,” he said. “Right now, the plan is to take care of my family. My daughter’s a senior, my son’s a sophomore in high school. I love the game, it’s been a part of me for the last 33 years of my life. Thirty-three years is a long time in college basketball. I want to give this radio thing a real shot and see if I can do a good job with it.”
I asked if there was a greater chance of him never coaching again than not.
“I don’t know,” Pearl said.
He doesn’t sound eager to get back, even with the shackles around him for the next few years, a show-cause preventing his return.Photo: AP