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Pearl Gives First Interview Post-Firing

Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl conducted his first post-firing interview with Knoxville radio station WNML-AM/FM today.  You can listen to the interview here, but here are some of the highlights:


* On new UT coach Cuonzo Martin: “He’s an outstanding man.  A very fine young coach who has got a great pedigree.”

* On whether some of his former players might play better under Martin than they did under Pearl: “Yes.  Sometimes coaching change can be very uplifting to a returning player.  Particularly a returning player who may not have either flourished or been presented with the kind of role that they wanted to be presented with.”

* On whether he would like to do television work in the upcoming season: “I don’t know.  It’s certainly a possibility.  Right now we’ve got to get through the hearing with the committee on infractions in June and when we get through that we’ll take a look at what our options are.”

* On whether he’s looking forward to stating his case to the COI: “Uhhhh.  (Chuckles.)  Probably not.  You know, we’ll go through the process and answer questions and hopefully we’ll come out with a very fair finding.”

* On whether he thinks the repeated talk of his troubles impacted this team last season: “I do, I do.  It was a tough year.  It was a tough year for the coaching staff.  It was a tough year for the players.  There were a lot of distractions and, you know, in some ways I’m proud of the way we overcame some of that adversity.  We obviously got off to a great start in spite of it. … Could we have done a better job of coaching?  Absolutely.  Could we have done a better job of playing?  Absolutely. … I wish I’d done a better job in spite of it.”

* On taking Tennessee to six straight NCAA Tournaments, a first for the program: “Certainly my goal, my dream was not to have a good run, but to try to add to the legacy.  And it just didn’t work out that way.  Obviously we’re sad.  And terribly disappointed, but very accountable for putting ourselves in the position where this could happen.”


Pearl’s decision to not yet speak of his firing — including in this interview — is likely due to an “I will not bash you” clause that he probably had to sign in order to get his $900,000 parting gift from Tennessee.

This summer, however, Tennessee and Pearl go separately before the NCAA’s committee on infractions.  It’s clear at this point that UT officials will try to dump all of the Vols’ violations on Pearl in an effort to protect their program.  Pearl, of course, won’t like that.  So whenever the gag order is finally lifted, it will be interesting to hear Pearl’s take on his dismissal.

But for now, he continues to hit all of the right buttons when it comes to exiting with class.

 


8 comments
New vol fan
New vol fan

Shocking that you guys can't see him for what he was...a con man. It was only a matter of time before he got caught. The program is way better off without him.

Stan Wilson
Stan Wilson

Why all the love for BP. It's not like he accomplished anything even remotely close to what Billy Donovan has at Florida, and Donovan isn't a liar and cheater.

Harold Hurst
Harold Hurst

Coach Pearl, you will always be my favorite coach....I wish you all the best and will follow your career from here on out. Thanks for what you brought to the Tennessee fanbase.

Josh Martin
Josh Martin

John,

I think Bruce Pearl has continued to act with class during this situation. I also believe that the UT Admin will come out looking like the bad guys when all is said and done. I think the NCAA went after Bruce Pearl because he doesn't fit their coaching mold. He is not who they like to uplift. I also believe that ESPN had a lot to do with the firing. There was not a telecast that went by without commentators saying over and over how UT has to fire Bruce Pearl. The pressure from the media and NCAA were too much and Bruce Pearl got a "$500,000 fine for a $50 crime." (I'm quoting the old show, West Wing there.) I'm not buying the, "well, he lied," business either. Any coach who doesn't self report lies to the NCAA. A lie of omission is a lie just the same. The NCAA and ESPN got their man and it came because Mike Hamilton and the powers that be at UT lost their backbone. If they were going to fire him, they should have done it as soon as the violation occurred. If they pledged support, they should have stuck with him.

Let me also add that you and I probably disagree on this situation but I still enjoy reading your take as I feel it is a fair an unbiased viewpoint. I will not deny the fact that I am a big Bruce Pearl fan and that may cloud my judgement on this subject. Keep up the good work and I will keep reading.

Josh Martin

sec_fan
sec_fan

How can you say the Administration will be the bad guys? It was Bruce Pearl who lied, It was Bruce Pearl who committed the violations. Perhaps the administration should have fired him from the beginning, but hey were trying to keep him. The further allegations against him, along with the media scrutiny forced them to fire him for the good of the program. They could not rick a long term suspension for Pearl or a post season ban for the team or both. As for the NCAA being after Bruce Pearl for not being what they wanted in a coach is total BS. He was able to promote his team, men's basketball and the SEC without making ridiculous allegations about fellow coaches (unlike a former UT football coach).
As for ESPN'S coverage I have no explanation. It seems if you commit a more serious violation as the Football Coach @ Ohio State hardly anything is said. Maybe because it is off season we will see when football starts again. I agree this was probably a big reason for the firing.

Vol Guest
Vol Guest

Josh - I am a lifelong Tennessee fan, and like you I am also a huge Pearl fan, and I am extremely saddened to see him go. It will always be looked on as a "what could have been" scenario, and who knows what glory he could have ultimately brought to TN? I thought a NC was on the horizon with him. I also strongly believe Hamilton is out of his league and should be the next to go.

With that said, I do believe too many Vol fans have let their judgment be clouded to say that Pearl shouldn't be fired. Not to say that he couldn't be offered another chance, but it's REALLY hard to argue that letting him go was inappropriate when he lied to the governing body of basketball and when keeping him would likely heap devastating penalties on the program. And the "everybody else is doing it too" argument can't work, either - if other people are caught, they should be punished, too (see Jim Tressel).

LJR
LJR

Josh,
Very well said.

Vol Guest
Vol Guest

But again, that's not to say that Vol fans shouldn't be heartbroken. He was a one-of-a-kind, no doubt. And while the non-disparagement clause of his agreement with UT might affect what he says, I also believe he has enough class (or maybe intelligence) not to go down blasting UT. Time will tell.



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