As you saw in our headlines this morning, Auburn's Bruce Pearl is once again telling the world how much he loves Tennessee. In fact, he goes so far as to say Tennessee is a better program than Auburn at the moment. That's an odd statement for an Auburn coach to make, no?
Asked about the petition signed by thousands of Vol fans that was designed to bring Pearl back to Knoxville (while UT had a coach in Cuonzo Martin), the new head Tiger said: "It was nice to know you were wanted." But with Tennessee and other major programs steering clear of Pearl and with Auburn AD Jay Jacobs breaking out the checkbook anyway, Pearl landed happily on the Plains. But he still has mighty good things to say about his last stop:
"Donnie (Tyndall) is going to do a great job. I think he was a great choice. And I'm blessed to be back in the SEC. So I think things worked out really well...
I'm a Vol for life. We had a great run at Tennessee. We made so many wonderful friends that we now consider family. Tennessee is one of the top four or five programs in the SEC and Auburn is not. We have a lot of catching up to do."
There's nothing in that statement that's particularly wrong. Pearl makes a nice comment about a fellow coach. And Tennessee's hoops history is longer and stronger than Auburn's.
But for an AU coach to say, "I'm a Vol for life" and "Tennessee is one of the top four or five programs in the SEC and Auburn is not?" There could be some folks in South Alabama who are growing tired of the I still love Tennessee bit.