I see your point, but he was not fired because Tennessee wanted to fire him. He was fired because the NCAA held a gun to their head and said, "fire him". Tennessee would have kept him if at all possible. He committed violations that were exceedingly minor and would have been deemed secondary by the NCAA (and all programs/coaches have those). He obviously made a terrible decision in lying, but it's not as if Tennessee wanted or needed to fire him (like Buzz Peterson, Fulmer, etc.).
Cuonzo Martin’s job isn’t getting any easier. Not only will Tennessee’s new basketball coach have to compete with a thin, inexperienced lineup this winter… but the man who left him that lineup will still be in town.
Former Vol coach Bruce Pearl has decided not to take what was reported to be a $500,000 per year offer to coach in the NBA’s D-league. Instead, he will serve as vice president of marketing with a Knoxville-based grocery company.
“I worked for 33 years — my entire coaching career — to get to a place like Knoxville,” Pearl said in a statement. “This is where my family lives, this is home. We have made life-long friends here and we are very blessed to have this opportunity.”
Forbes magazing ranks HT Hackney as the 82nd largest privately held company in the country with annual revenues of about $4 billion.
Pearl, of course, has the right to live anywhere he likes. But his decision to stay in Knoxville probably won’t help his successor. Some close to Pearl have suggested that the coach would like to bide his time and possibly return to UT once his show cause penalty ends in three years.
If Martin struggles as expected with the roster Pearl left him, you can be sure some Vol fans will begin to countdown to the moment when Pearl’s penalty ends. That said, if chancellor Jimmy Cheek remains at Tennessee, it’s hard to imagine Pearl getting another shot with the Vols, regardless of fan sentiment.
Whether he holds out hope of a return or not — and we’re guessing he’d deny that publicly — you can for now say to goodbye to Bruce Pearl the basketball coach… and say hello to Bruce Pearl the grocery supply marketer.