Good article. I am a Tennessee fan and am extremely disappointed with Pearl and recognize his violations are a big deal and are worthy of significant punishment. However, I always appreciate how this website keeps proper perspective and does not get too caught up in the negativity, hype, and over-sensitivity that seems to dominate most other media.
To date, two coaches have come out in support of embattled Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl. One is Villanova’s Jay Wright, who is not an SEC rival. The other coach might surprise you.
In the SEC, fans enjoy hating rival coaches, players and fans. And they really enjoy coaches and players who make no bones about hating one another. The relationship — and I use that term loosely — between Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer comes to mind.
But the animosity that existed between Tennessee’s and Florida’s old football coaches does not carry over to basketball. In fact, Billy Donovan has chosen to lend his verbal support to his UT counterpart.
“I’ve got a good relationship with Bruce,” Donovan told The Knoxville News Sentinel. “I feel bad, in a lot of ways, for the things he’s going through personally. It’s an unfortunate situation.
“I look at it from a different standpoint. We all make mistakes. We all do things we regret. Nobody’s perfect and I’m not condoning any of his actions because I don’t know what went on.
“But you know what? He is a person, a human being. Forget the coaching, forget the sanctions. Him as a person, I hope he’s able to find some peace in his heart with what’s happened and can move forward in his life.”
Donovan surprised many be showing up and taking part in a Pearl-backed anti-cancer fundraiser in Knoxville last year.
His comments regarding Pearl’s NCAA failings — while the exact opposite of what we would expect to hear from fans — are welcome. You can be sure that Vol fans will let Donovan have it when he enters Thompson-Boling Arena tonight. And Gator fans will be hoping Pearl’s career is eventually ruined by an angry NCAA enforcement department. But the coaches don’t share their backers’ hostility.
From where I sit, that’s a good thing. It’s good to see one SEC coach support another. It sets a positive example for fans and hype-it-up media types across the South.
It might not make for flashy headlines and soundbites, but I can tell you I’d much rather cover two coaches showing class (as Donovan and Pearl have) than two coaches showing their asses (as Kiffin and Meyer did).