Tennessee Volunteers Should Not Rehire Bruce Pearl

Nick Laham, GETTY IMAGES SPORT

With the Tennessee Volunteers once again not living up to expectations this season, the rumors are flying in Knoxville. Why wouldn’t they be? Cuonzo Martin has not been able to get the Vols over the hump during his stay as the head coach of the Tennessee program. This is Martin’s third season as head coach, and it could be said that not one of his three teams reached its potential.

And that’s why part A of the rumor mill could be true: that Martin will be fired at the end of the season. This year’s team sits at 16-11, 7-7 in the Southeastern Conference. Last year, the Vols were 20-13, including a first-round NIT loss to Mercer. Martin’s first Tennessee team finished 19-15, including a second-round NIT exit.

Part B of the rumor mill is the more interesting of the two. That rumor is that Bruce Pearl, the former head coach of the Vols, who still lives in Knoxville, is ready to return to the sidelines. Pearl’s NCAA suspension for breaking rules, then lying to the NCAA about breaking those rules, is about to finish, meaning that if Tennessee fired Martin, they could hire Pearl.

Pearl made Tennessee basketball relevant during his time on Rocky Top. He led the Vols to a 145-61 (.704) record in six seasons, and even got the Vols to the top of the national rankings — in basketball. Pearl’s teams won or shared three SEC Eastern Division titles during his tenure.

Always a showman, Pearl brought attention to Tennessee basketball, whether good or bad. He was always self-promoting, whether it was painting his chest and attending a women’s basketball game, or wearing a bright orange blazer in games against the arch rival Kentucky Wildcats and Vanderbilt Commodores.

And while many Tennessee fans want to relive the glory days of Pearl’s tenure, they seem to forget how the story ended the first time — with Pearl running afoul of the NCAA rules, then lying to NCAA investigators about those violations. Is that really the type of person that fans should want running their program?

While hiring Pearl might be the popular choice in the short-term, it could be devastating to the athletic program in the long-term, especially if Pearl goes rogue again.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the United States Basketball Writers Association. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Around the Web

  • Justin Sauder

    If “what if he does it again is your only argument then it is very weak. I could give you 20,000 reasons why they should. And by the way, we do remember why he got fired and it was retarded. He paid his time and instead of potentially stinking it up and losing millions of dollars we would rather have him back. Last home game only saw about 6000 fans show up. Right or wrong the fan base will not give another coach a chance and another coach will always be in his shadow. If Bruce ends up at another school no one will even want to follow UT ‘S team period. Unless you lived in knoxville, I do not think you could understand the love the fans have for Bruce. He has given more of his time for Comunity related things than any other public personality in knoxville’s history. Do not be a hater. He would be the cleanest coach in America. Someone will hire him and when they do everyone will say what a great hire it is, it might as well be UT.

  • brokebackvol

    The violation isn’t even a violation anymore. No, this is not “Just like Louisville.” #BRINGBACKBRUCE

  • Chip

    He messed up. We get it. If companies didn’t hire a person just because of a violation they committed in the past, even YOU wouldn’t have a job. But keep the whole “holier than thou” thing going… It really works for you.

  • Ashley Rose

    This is the dumbest article ever. He can win, bring the fans, and made a mistake. One that he is very repentant of, and one that isn’t even a violation anymore in today’s NCAA rulebook. Whoever wrote this clearly doesn’t want TN back on top for whatever reason and clearly does not care about the best interest of TN Basketball. Also, it was poorly written. Going on and on about all the things Bruce brought to the table, then at the last second saying, “but yeah, don’t hire him back. he might do it again”, with no further statements to support that accusation. Dumb.

  • http://www.moonshiners.com/ the Morelock clan of Hawkins

    Be afraid..be very afraid.SEC..Pearl is going to be back in Orange next season.

  • MrTee23

    OMG…Bruce lied and then told the truth and was punished. Great. Awesome. Can we please get over this.

    Bruce Pearl didn’t run an interstate dog fighting ring (Michael Vick). He didn’t assault a girl in a bathroom and then take selfies with the investigating cop (Ben Roethlisberger). He didn’t have an affair and then improperly promote and subsequently lie about the existence of his mistress (Bobby Petrino). He didn’t try to obstruct a police investigation into a murder (Ray Lewis). He didn’t cheat. He didn’t have his players shoot up ‘roids or cover up for a booster that was buying his kids hookers and flat screen televisions (what’s up Miami?). Hell…he didn’t help a player cheat on a college entrance exam (2012 NCAA Tournament Champion Head Coach John Calipari).

    So what horrible thing did he he do? What terrible, no good, very bad, immoral and heathenish sin did he commit? He recruited a bit too aggressively. STOP THE F’ING PRESSES!!! WHAT A HORRIBLE TRAIT FOR A COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACH. HE MUST BE DESTROYED AND THE EARTH SALTED WHERE HE ONCE STOOD!!!

    Give me a break.

    Can we please stop pretending that college athletics is this lily white, innocent past time that helps round out the collegiate experience and sculpt the character of future chemistry PhDs? College athletics is a down and dirty, rough and tumble, big money business in the SEC. What is Bruce’s biggest sin? After lying to the NCAA investigators he didn’t commit. He was stupid and thought that some kind of good would come by fessing up and telling the truth. When you think about it, the NCAA set a great example (heavy sarcasm). After Pearl told the truth (his choice, btw) what happened? He was hit with a three year show-cause. I should start educating my children like that.

    Me: Tell the truth, did you hit your sister?
    Son: No. I just pushed her.
    Me: If you hit her then you’re going to have to say you’re sorry.
    Son: Ok. I hit her. I’m sorry.
    Me: I’m glad that you were honest with me. Now go get my belt so I can tan your ass.
    Son: But…but…I told the truth.
    Me: Yes, but you lied to me first and now that you admitted to it, you’re going to get a beating.

    Father. Of. The. Year.

    After allegations that Lane Kiffin’s staff was using the hostess program as a pseudo-brothel, the NCAA’s committee on infractions came into Knoxville looking for blood and looking to set an example. Tennessee served up Pearl as a sacrificial goat. Did Pearl help? Yep. Did Tennessee’s attorneys let Pearl walk into the meeting without informing him that the NCAA had a picture of the recruiting violation? Yep again. If you don’t think that Tennessee was throwing raw meat to the NCAA wolves to protect the sacred cow football program, you’re deluding yourself.

    Throughout his entire career Pearl has NEVER been accused of helping his players cheat at academics or cheat during a game. Oh and that rule he violated, having a recruit over to his house for a barbeque (I mean why didn’t he just shoot the kid up with heroin and rape his mother, right?), that’s no longer an NCAA recruiting violation and now it happens ALL THE TIME.

    Bruce Pearl is a great coach and a great Vol. I want him back at my alma mater. Tennessee should do everything in its power to get him back.

    BRING BACK PEARL!!!

  • BuckeyesCheat

    Seems like Roy Williams, Coach K, John Wooden & especially Calipari have all had their own “issues” at one time or another. Pearl got caught… That is the only difference.
    They are ALL shady!

  • Jason