Bruce Pearl is a Tennessee legend.
Every orange-blooded Tennessee Vol fan wants him back on the sideline in his orange jacket exhorting the masses. Admit it, just thinking about what Thompson-Boling Arena would feel like the first time Bruce Pearl walks out onto the court makes the hairs on the back of your arms stand up.
We. Need. This.
Hell, SEC basketball, and the SEC Network, need this desperately too. Do you know how awful SEC basketball is to watch this year? There are seven teams tied for fourth place at 7-7 right now. It’s putrid. Love him or hate him at least Pearl SEC made basketball fun. It’s why so many opposing fans want Pearl back too, he made SEC basketball much more fun. Pearl wouldn’t even be the biggest cheater coaching in the conference, that honor would still go to Missouri’s Frank Haith, you know, the guy who bought players, lied to the NCAA about it, and got a five game suspension. FIVE GAMES. Pearl got 3.25 years for lying about a damn BBQ. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment, the violation Pearl lied about isn’t even an NCAA violation anymore.
But it’s not just the league that needs him, if you’re a Kentucky or Florida fan or any other team that hopes to have a decent team in the near future, you need Pearl and Tennessee to be good. Tennessee being good actually gave you another decent team to compete against, it helped your chances of making the NCAA Tourney and being seeded highly once you got there. Right now SEC basketball is almost unwatchable. Not to mention that Tennessee basketball is abysmal this year and heading for a awful crater next year when the entire basketball team, sans Pearl recruits, finally belongs entirely to Cuonzo Martin. Next year’s team will be awful, boring, and cost the university millions in unsold seats.
The choice is simple for athletic director Dave Hart, either Tennessee can bring back Cuonzo Martin and stink for another year, thereby necessitating a new hire in 2015, or a new coach has to be hired now. That’s an easy call, it’s time for a change in Knoxville. And by change, I mean a return to the glory days — bring Bruce Pearl back to Tennessee.
No one in the national media will even criticize Tennessee for making this hire. Pearl’s been overpunished for a minor transgression, given the death penalty for the college basketball equivalent of stealing a loaf of bread. Doubt me? Check out Gregg Doyel’s CBS column today — he says Pearl back to Tennessee makes sense.
And here’s the deal, everyone wants Pearl back.
All the big Vol boosters?
They’re quietly telling Dave Hart they’d like to see Pearl back on the sideline.
All the fans?
Over 23,000 UT fans have signed an online petition calling for Bruce Pearl to be rehired. That petition not coincidentally, is the column I wrote here at Outkick ten days ago, saying it’s time for Bruce Pearl to be rehired in Knoxville.
Now it’s time to call out the heavy artillery.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not a chancellor Jimmy Cheek decision. Cheek will defer to what athletic director Dave Hart decides. Hart didn’t hire Bruce Pearl to begin with, he didn’t fire him either. Hart comes to Bruce Pearl with clean hands. Unlike Louisville, whose AD, Tom Jurich, rehired Bobby Petrino after Petrino spurned the school, Hart can hire Pearl and give him a clean slate. With one hire Hart can add millions to the athletic department balance sheet, stabilize UT basketball for a decade or more, and pair Bruce Pearl with Butch Jones.
Can you imagine the one, two punch of Bruce and Butch, Butch and Bruce?
Good lord, you’re giddy just thinking about it, aren’t you?
This would be the most electric tandem this side of True Detective, two swaggering personas making Rocky Top as entertaining of a destination as there is in all of college sports.
Pearl still lives in Knoxville, he’s ready, willing, and able to resume the job he had rolling. Sure, the first year would be a drag, but that’s what happens when a program declines, it has to be rebuilt. Pearl might not be able to get the Vols to the NCAA Tourney immediately, but he’d eventually return them to the crest of rocky top, just like he did before. Sure, Dave Hart could hire someone else to replace Cuonzo Martin, but that person could easily be another Cuonzo, a nice guy who couldn’t finish. Why pass up a sure thing to take a chance on a coach who could flop?
What’s more, there’s a decent chance that another SEC school could swoop in and hire Bruce Pearl out from underneath Tennessee.
Can you imagine th reaction if, God forbid, Alabama hired Bruce Pearl? And then Pearl showed up in Thompson-Boling Arena in a houndstooth jacket and kicked Tennessee’s ass up and down the court? I can. And it would destroy Tennessee basketball for a decade. If Pearl comes back to another SEC school, Vol basketball is finished. It won’t matter who Dave Hart hires.
This cannot happen.
So how do we make Pearl back to Knoxville happen?
Dave Hart needs to know how much grassroots support Bruce Pearl truly has in the fanbase. So let’s let him know. I want you guys to deluge his email — email@example.com, I want you to flood his phone lines, 865-974-1224. Hart’s a tough customer, he wants to run the athletic department as he sees fit and he’s done a good job trying to streamline things and clean up the mess, but the best leaders aren’t afraid to listen to the people. To let leadership bubble from the ground up. Just give Tennessee fans what we want, let us help you make this hire.
Just say yes to Bruce Pearl back in Knoxville, Dave. If you do that, you won’t have to worry about your men’s basketball team for the rest of the time you’re in Knoxville. The revenue will pour in, season ticket renewels will surge, UT basketball will be reinvigorated in an instant. It will be like the last three years didn’t even happen. It makes too much sense not to do. Remember, UT athletics is a business. In what other business could you get away with not giving 100% of your consumers what they want?
Pearl’s coming home and Dave Hart can make it happen, cementing his own legacy with Vol fans forever.
Make it happen, Dave.