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It’s Time for Auburn to Roll the Dice on Bruce Pearl

By on March 17th, 2014 in Basketball 8 Comments »

pearlEverywhere you turn these days, it’s all about Bruce Pearl. Can Auburn get him? Will Auburn take a chance on him? But what’s the real story behind the colorful former Tennessee coach? What do we really know about him?

Most importantly, he led a down-and-out Tennessee program to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Auburn has been to eight total in its history. He’s the second fastest coach to 300 wins in NCAA history.

Prior to Tennessee, he won a Division II national title at Southern Indiana and then followed that up with two NCAA Tournament appearances while at Milwaukee.

But more than a winning record, Pearl brings excitement. The only thing worse than Tony Barbee on the court, was talking to him off it. He never connected with the students or alumni. There’s little evidence he even tried. He likely will be remembered as the worst Auburn basketball coach in the modern era.

Auburn needs excitement.

That won’t be a problem with Pearl who was almost always the most popular guy on campus. Whether it was painting himself orange or mugging for pictures with fans during football season. Hiring Bruce Pearl would guarantee a full Auburn Arena.

What are the risks?

How ironic that Dave Didion, the NCAA investigator who spearheaded the Pearl case at Tennessee, is now Auburn’s associate athletic director for compliance. Auburn’s pursuit of Pearl will likely come down to Didion’s recommendation.

In a column last week, Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky wrote that there may be “more to that story that makes hiring Pearl less objectionable than many people might think.” He didn’t provide more detail.

Pearl was found guilty by the NCAA of inviting a high school recruit and his family to a cookout at his Knoxville home while the player was on an un-official visit. According to reports, Pearl acknowledged that the recruit should not be there, but rather than ask him to leave, encouraged those present to keep silent.

When questioned by the NCAA, Pearl reportedly lied about the gathering and it all went downhill from there. Ultimately, Pearl was fired by Tennessee and given a three-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA that remains in effect until August 23rd.

Auburn is known for having one of the top compliance departments in the country. This should ease any fears it has about giving Pearl a second chance. Besides, what does the program have to lose?

Auburn has arguably the worst program in the SEC and among the worst in major college basketball. Its new arena has done nothing to boast its stature.

Speaking with athletic director Jay Jacobs before the BCS National Championship, ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd jokingly told Jacobs that he had no clue who the Auburn basketball coach was and couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.

That sums up the program now. Auburn’s not bringing in a top notch coach without some warts. Its only option is to take a chance on Pearl or give another up and comer a shot and hope he doesn’t turn out like Barbee.

I’m tired of being irrelevant. I have no illusions of being Kentucky, but one appearance in the tournament since 2003 is not going to cut it.

Roll the dice. Give Bruce Pearl a second chance.

What do we have to lose?

8 Comments

  1. el757 says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Especially since AL.com is reporting that Didion has green-lighted his hiring to Jacobs. http://www.al.com/auburnbasketball/index.ssf/2014/03/auburn_basketball_search_inclu.html#incart_m-rpt-2

    I’m a character first guy but I’m hopeful Pearl learned his lesson and Jacobs can keep him in line.

  2. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Pull the trigger. Do it. Hire Pearl. It would be inspired, and, frankly, would inspire me to take back all horrible things that I have ever said about JJ. I mean it.

  3. audude audude says:

    I’m OK with Pearl, but what about Chuck Person? It could do wonders having the AU all time leading scorer back on the Plains. If his time in S. Korea has helped him hone his coaching style it could be a great hire. His name should be worth a lot on the recruiting trail. His NBA experience and promise to get them ready for it could make for a 1-2 punch that’s hard to beat.

    Maybe it will take one of our own, The Rifleman, to get this turned around.

  4. WoodrowAU95 says:

    It just seems that the longer the search continues, the less Pearl is the choice. It seems like this hire would be a no brainer.

  5. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Barbee was a complete and total failure. And while Charles Barkley was gaurded in his response about his firing… I am not sure how any one can look at this mess any other way. He threw his players under the bus. He failed to evaluate his own mistakes. And he ultimately paid the price. And I might add… so did Auburn.

    I have pretty much figured the basketball program has been on borrowed time since Sir Charles. He is a big mouth… but he has done more for Auburn in terms of basketball than any other player I can think of. In fact, I can’t think of another time in my recent memory where the program was anywhere as close to being a viable player in the tournament as it was when he was here.

    And let’s face it… because I know it will be brought up, the NIT sucks! It’s for the losers who were slightly better than average but couldn’t win enough. If we can’t be in the NCAA 64 tounament… I’d rather we shut the doors to the program. I know that’s pretty drastic… it’s just that several teams from the SEC get admitted… why can’t AU be one of them? That should be our goal every year. Heck, it might be unrealistic to expect to win it every year – the least AU can do is compete. We haven’t done that in a long time.

    I guess now is the time to do something drastic. It’s either get a viable coach who can move the program back in the black… OR let’s make the arena Jordan Hare’s air conditioned extention and watch the football game on the big screen.

    While I remember Chuck Person… he played with Sir Charles… my only question about him would be how many SEC caliber teams has he led? And won as a coach? We need a head coach, recruiter… and an all around ambassador for the game. No more big chances…with little in terms of expectations. Think big – go big. Or go home.

    WDE

  6. BeachTiger BeachTiger says:

    Personally, when Pearl wore orange and white, I couldn’t stand the guy. Maybe if he wore orange and blue I’d change my tune… haha. I feel it’s still early in the game to put all our money on one guy. Let’s get a great team together like we did when we performed the search for our “great” football coach and see who’s out there. Auburn is a top tier college and we should perform a search in keeping with that distinction. If it turns out that Bruce Pearl is the man for the job, then I would say WAR DAMN EAGLE!

  7. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    It’s official, we got Pearl

  8. BeachTiger BeachTiger says:

    Well, as I stated above…

    WAR DAMN EAGLE!