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UT’s Pearl Gets In Trouble For His Mouth, Too

What is it about Tennessee coaches?

Lane Kiffin has become one of the best-known figures on the American sports scene because he sometimes puts his foot in his mouth.

Now UT basketball coach Bruce Pearl has apparently borrowed one of Kiffin’s shoes and put it in his mouth.  In a big way.

While speaking at a Knoxville charity event yesterday, Pearl said the following:

“I’ve got a tough job.  I’ve got to put these guys from different worlds together, right?  I’ve got guys from Chicago, Detroit… I’m talking about the ‘hood!  And I’ve got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood.”


First of all, I’m guessing the folks in Grainger Country, Tennessee — best known for their yearly tomato festival — probably won’t be too keen on the fact that they’re now getting pub as a Ku Klux Klan hotbed.

Second of all, I’m not sure what kind of recruiting message this sends to the kids from “the ‘hood” that Pearl is recruiting.  “Come on down to Tennessee, man, but don’t drive 20 minutes outside of Knoxville!”

Finally, Pearl probably ticked off a few honest-to-God Klan members, but heck, as a Jewish coach, I’m guessing they didn’t have his back to begin with.

The coach put out an apology yesterday evening:

“This morning while speaking at a private kick-off event for a great organization that benefits many local charities, I made a statement in jest to describe the diverse group our staff recruits year-in and year-out.

“Unfortunately while I was trying to excite the crowd and encourage employees to give, I made an inappropriate joke.  I certainly did not intend to offend anyone and I apologize to everyone, especially the people of Grainger County.”

Bottom line?  It was a dumb joke.  And coaches who win games can make dumb jokes.  Just this summer Pearl kidded that he wanted to date Kiffin’s wife, Layla.  If a recently divorced (and since re-married) man can get away with that kind of talk in the Bible Belt, it’s clear he’s a popular guy.

Let him lose a few games and then call Grainger Countians Klansmen and the reaction might be a tad different.

But these types of comments are what make Pearl Pearl.  He’s outspoken.  He’s boisterous.  He’s loud.  He speaks off the cuff.

Slip-ups like this are just part of the Pearl show. 

And with Kiffin now on Tennessee’s campus, too, slip-ups like this might provide more year-round entertainment in the Smokies than anything this side of Dollywood.



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