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Irony Bites Tennessee

Talk about ironic.  Just think about what’s going on in Knoxville today.

The majority of the Volunteer fanbase is outraged at the Tennessee administration for firing Bruce Pearl and not standing by him.  That’s not surprising because Pearl was hugely successful and popular.

But that viewpoint is also 180 degrees from the truth.

Tennessee didn’t stand by Pearl?  Please.  Tennessee stood by Pearl longer than other schools who’ve had coaches lie to the NCAA and attempt cover-ups. 

When Pearl’s transgressions came to light last September, UT was blistered by the national press for not dismissing him on the spot.  Vol athletic director Mike Hamilton was called a joke — and worse — for not showing Pearl the door.

While we pointed out at the time that coaches with equity have a chance to hang on to their jobs longer than others, the fact of the matter remains, of the last 20 people to be hit with “unethical conduct” charges by the NCAA, all were fired or forced to resign.  Thus the “show cause” bans each received.

But Tennessee went in the other direction.  They stood by Pearl.  When it was learned that he’d committed another violation and that he’d not informed his bosses of it… they continued to stand by him. 

Eventually, however, the heat got turned up too far.  The penalties for keeping a coach the NCAA viewed as unethical looked too nasty, too rough.  So the UT administration finally dismissed Pearl six months after the fact.

And now Hamilton is being called a joke again — this time for showing Pearl the door (even though it wasn’t his call) — and UT is being charged with not standing by its man.

How’s that for ironic?

Even more ironic — the Tennessee administration will take plenty of heat for trashing the Vol program… something that looks likely today.  Avoiding blame will be Pearl, the man who actually committed the small violations and then blew them up by attempting to throw the NCAA off the scent.

I’m all for second chances and here’s hoping Pearl gets one.  One screw-up shouldn’t define him any more than my screw-ups have defined me (or yours have defined you).  But to blame Tennessee for what’s about to happen to the program and to accuse the school of not standing by Pearl?  That’s lunacy.

Pearl got more support for a longer period of time than the last 20 folks to be charged with unethical conduct. 

And for those who want to scream, “What about Ohio State and Jim Tressel,” I say only this: Give it about seven months and let’s see if Tressel’s any more connected to OSU than Pearl is to Tennessee.

UT didn’t stand by Pearl?  Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.



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