KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- It did not come with as much flair as usual.
But yes, Bruce Pearl has predicted the Vols will beat Florida ... in football.
"I'm going to predict a Tennessee football win with all due respect to Florida," Pearl said this morning after a workout at Thompson-Boling Arena. "The bottom line is this: We have great respect for Florida; they are an unbelievable team. But we're not underdogs here in Knoxville very often. I tell you what, Al Wilson spoke to the team Friday. I feel good about that. I feel better about our chances to win the game knowing Al Wilson talked to those guys."
This might not seem important in the grand scheme of things. But it should be noted Pearl has a history of great predictions, dating back to 2006 when he went bonkers at a pep rally before a game against a Florida team that was undefeated at the time and in the middle of a national championship season.
This is what he said: "We are your basketball team. I am your basketball coach. And we are going to kick Florida's ass!"
Final score: Vols 80, Gators 76.
And then there was last season, when Tennessee traveled to Memphis to meet the top-ranked and undefeated Tigers. At a pep rally before tip-off, Pearl promised his Vols would "kick Memphis' ass!"
Final score: Vols 66, Tigers 62.
So again, Pearl is good at this sort of thing.
We'll see if he can make it three for three this afternoon.
On another note, Pearl hosted a slew of prospects at this morning's workout -- among them Kenny Hall (ranked 29th in the Class of 2009 by Scout.com) and Josh Selby (ranked seventh in the Class of 2010 by Scout.com) -- though Dominic Cheek (ranked 15th in the Class of 2009 by Scout.com) was not in the building despite an online report earlier this week that stated he would visit. Anyway, a few hundred fans opted to postpone tailgating for an hour to watch Pearl run practice, but it was clear football was still on their minds when they gave the biggest applause of the morning to Marlon Brown, a two-sport athlete from Memphis who is the top-rated football prospect in the state.
Brown was standing on the baseline watching practice when Wayne Chism deflected a pass with his foot and sent the ball flying into the air. Instinctively, Brown stretched out and caught the ball, proving a scouting report that claims he's tall, quick and reliable with his hands is accurate. When Brown hauled it in the fans stood and cheered, and a small chant of Mar-lon ... Mar-lon ... Mar-lon broke out behind the Vols' bench in an attempt to convince the receiver he should commit to catching balls inside Neyland Stadium next fall.