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Pearl Can Call UT Assistants During The Games He’ll Miss

When Mike Slive announced last week that Bruce Pearl would be suspended for eight SEC games this season, the immediate reaction around the net all went in one direction:

“The commissioner has chosen to hammer Pearl which just goes to prove that he should be fired.”

For those who chose not to rush to judgement — a rarity on the internet — a bit more mulling over of the situation led to a different conclusion:

“The commissioner is mad, but he also has been working with Tennessee on its internal penalties.  It’s likely he’s trying to help UT avoid more serious NCAA sanctions.”

Well it continues to look as though the latter is more true than the former.’s Andy Katz discussed Pearl’s suspension in an NIT preview article yesterday.  He broke down all of the major details:

* 8 games away from his team
* Can coach against UConn in a non-conference game
* Can have some contact with his team on gameday
* Can continue to run practices — just not in the hours before a game
* Can travel with the team

And Katz mentioned this nugget as well: Pearl can relay game strategy to his assistants and fill-in coach Tony Jones by way of halftime phone calls.

Slive’s punishment of Pearl sends a loud message to the masses.  It also served Pearl up on a platter to the New York media.

But if Katz is correct and Pearl can still talk to his coaches at halftime, then it’s even more apparent that the league’s penalties were designed to impress the NCAA rather than punish the Tennessee program.

Don’t get me wrong… not having the head coach on the sideline is a first-of-its-kind penalty and it is serious.  But Pearl isn’t being banned from his program for a month.  Not even close.  This is a little like a smack across the face.  It’s loud and embarrassing, but it’s not as painful as a closed-fisted punch to jaw.

So how will the NCAA respond?

Will it take Slive’s unprecedented punishment into account and lessen its own penalties for Pearl?  Will it view the punishment as being mainly for show and act independently of Tennessee’s and the SEC’s penalties.  Or will the NCAA try to trump Slive’s work and come down even harder on the Vols’ coach? 

There’s no telling with the NCAA.

But the more details we get on Pearl’s suspension, the more we can tell that Slive’s punishments were designed to help Pearl stay in the league… rather than force him out of it.



  1. [...] Bruce Pearl can call assistants during games he will miss, reports Mr. SEC. [...]

  2. [...] Bruce Pearl can call assistants during games he will miss, reports Mr. SEC. [...]

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