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Pearl Lands First Commitment At Auburn

Power forward Cinmeon Bowers from Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla., became the first prospect to commit to coach Bruce Pearl at Auburn on Saturday.

Bowers signed with Florida State in November but was released from his national letter of intent in January after he was arrested for allegedly eating marijuana in order to conceal it from police officers during a traffic stop. Charges were later dropped.

Bowers told he wasn’t guilty of any wrongdoing during the alleged incident.

“About that incident, I was proven innocent,” he said. “I was falsely accused. People might think badly of me, but I don’t smoke. I was around the wrong people. People think I’m a bad guy – I’m a good guy.”

Bowers, who plans to sign with Auburn on Wednesday, believes he will be able to help the Tigers immediately.

“I looked at the depth chart and they need a four man,” Bowers told Auburn Sports. “I love the offense, they let the four man go and everybody shares the ball. It would be a great fit.”

Auburn signed two prospects – forwards Sam Logwood and Jack Purchase – during the fall signing period.

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Sans Shirt, Pearl Continues To Make Waves (Good Ones) For Auburn Hoops

pearl-dunk-tankWhen you hire Bruce Pearl you get two different people.  You get a basketball coach with a track record of serious on-court success (and some off-court flubs).  And you get a guy who enjoys the hell out of the spotlight… which makes him a walking billboard for your basketball program.

Auburn has yet to reap the awards of Pearl’s in-game strengths, but they’ve already seen in marketing prowess.  First he stage-dived into a mosh pit of AU fans upon his arrival on the Plains.  His introductory press conference was 95% a revival meeting.  He also took to ESPN’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show to don an Auburn baseball jersey and football helmet.

While Pearl said during his first presser that he would likely keep his shirt on at Auburn, it took less than a month to get him out of it.  Yesterday he took center stage in a dunk tank for an Auburn fraternity’s fund-raiser.


Bruce Pearl goes in the dunk tank for charity


There are a couple of reasons Pearl isn’t the most popular guy in the world when it comes to the coaching fraternity.  (His teams at Tennessee were consistently ranked lower in the coaches poll than in the AP Poll.)  First, he’s still carrying the baggage from decisions he made as an assistant at Iowa that led to him being blackballed to Division II for a decade.  Second, there aren’t many coaches who’ll paint their chests, step into dunking booths, wear football helmets, etc, in the name of promoting the program.  And when fans see Pearl do it, many of them say, “Why won’t our guy be fun like that?”

If anything, Pearl’s ramping up his marketing efforts at Auburn.  He’s averaging a national headline per week.  Either he realizes AU will be a tougher rebuild and is therefore in more need of pub than UT was… or he’s really, really missed the spotlight.

Probably a little of both.

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Auburn’s Pearl Talks Coaching Opportunities, Show-Cause Appeal

Bruce-Pearl-my-players-1024x712Readers of this site know that beginning in January — when the “Bruce Pearl will be the hottest coaching candidate in the country” talk began — we consistently wrote that if any school were to make a play for a man currently riding the NCAA pine due to a show-cause penalty it would be Auburn.  Obviously, Auburn did indeed make Pearl their new coach.

So did Pearl have any other major schools chasing him?  Did he have serious offers from any smaller schools?  Not according to what the Tigers’ new boss told The Birmingham News today:


“I did have a couple calls but they were early on and from mid-major programs who wanted to know if I’d be interested.  (Auburn AD) Jay (Jacobs) wasted absolutely no time.  So then I looked, as you should, if Jay’s interested, maybe somebody else is.  What else is open?  One, I really wanted to go to work for someone who wanted me with all my baggage, my history, my challenges, with a show-cause.  And do you really want me knowing I can’t recruit until August?  (Auburn associate AD) Dave Didion, who was director of enforcement of the NCAA during my investigation, he knew what we did, he knew what we didn’t do.  He wanted me?  Here?”


According to reports, Didion’s review had more to do with “he’s learned his lesson” than it did with what Pearl did or didn’t do to earn himself a three-year show-cause penalty.

The bigger question is this: If Pearl wasn’t a hot commodity, how did he and his attorney milk a six-year, $14.7 million deal out of Auburn?  Pearl’s $2.2 million salary is larger than what he was paid at Tennessee before spending three years in NCAA lock-up.  Consider Pearl’s contract to be his first big victory on the Plains.

If Pearl wins ballgames, too — and it’s likely he will — Jacobs and AU may well look at Pearl’s salary as money well spent.  But if he doesn’t win, then you can bet there will be some questions asked of Jacobs regarding his contract negotiation skills.

As for Pearl’s show-cause penalty, the coach isn’t ready to say whether or not he and Auburn will launch an official appeal that would end his punishment early, before August:


“When I got my penalty, I had 30 days to appeal.  I thought my penalty was too harsh and I said that.  But I chose to not appeal because I had a choice between trying to get less or being accountable… I’ve already missed three seasons of basketball.  I’ve missed three recruiting cycles.  I am serving my sentence.  I didn’t know this, but when Auburn chose to hire me, there then was another 30-day window where Auburn has to show cause as to why they hired me and in that there’s an opportunity to discuss what the rest of the show-cause looks like.  And between three years ago and now, have some circumstances changed?  Now I have a job; I didn’t before.  I’ve served my three years; I hadn’t before.  So I think we’ll be discussing the timing of a June (2011) hearing and an August (2011) penalty and see what that looks like.”


So long as Pearl avoids future NCAA entanglements, it’s hard to imagine his hiring being anything less than a hit at Auburn, where basketball has languished since the turn of the century.

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SEC Headlines 3/19/2014

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Why is former Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore lashing out at the Aggies athletic administration?

2. Spring practice gets underway today at Florida with a focus on the offense and new coordinator Kurt Roper.

3. Some players to watch and some questions to ask at Florida this spring.

4. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen appreciates having some depth at quarterback this spring. Bulldogs kicked off spring practice Tuesday.

5. Concern at LSU?  Tigers backfield lacks depth.

6. Those four Georgia players charged with  multiple counts of theft by deception on Monday were back on the practice field Tuesday but Mark Richt not ruling out any dismissals. Bulldogs potential national title contender in 2014?

7. Plenty of new faces and new roles along Missouri’s offensive line but center Evan Boehm will be the anchor in the middle. Is Tigers running back Russell Hansbrough one of the players poised for a breakout season?

8. Vanderbilt redshirt freshman C.J. Duncan is changing positions.

9. Germain Ifedi started every game at right guard for Texas A&M last fall.He could wind up playing tackle this fall.

10. Linebacker Trey DePriest will be a leader of the Alabama defense.

11. Auburn safety Trent Fisher, son of St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, may no longer be on the team.

12. South Carolina sophomore Jamari Smith trying to get the jump on five freshmen cornerbacks who will join the program this summer. A couple of South Carolina linebackers undergo arthroscopic surgeries.

13. Arkansas had to replace three assistant coaches in the offseason - but none of the changes came on the offensive staff.

14. Tennessee football is on spring break this week but here’s an updated look at the depth charts.

Bruce Pearl to Auburn reaction

15. Auburn’s new basketball coach meets the media.  ”When I made the mistakes that I made at Tennessee, I let a lot of people down.” Pearl gets six-year deal worth $2.2 million annually.

16. Pearl turned 54 Tuesday.  “Happy belated birthday, Bruce Almighty. Or should that now be Bruce Au-mighty?”

17. Pearl believes the hiring had the blessing of SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: ”I’m sure I wouldn’t be getting this second chance unless it met with his approval.”

18. “He will be a catalyst for change in the league, to the delight of commissioner Mike Slive.”

19. Pearl met with Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs at his Knoxville home Monday night - deal hashed out on the kitchen island.  One Tennessee reaction to Pearl’s hiring?  Relief.  

20. Kevin Scarbinsky: ‘A popular analogy already has started making the rounds...Pearl will be to (Anthony) Grant as Nick Saban was to Tommy Tuberville.

21. Paul Finebaum: (Alabama A.D. Bill Battle) “woke up today and found out his worst nightmare – at least from a basketball standpoint — has come true.”

22. Mike DeCourcy: “How many active coaches are better? Let’s just say they could all probably fit in one clown car.”

SEC Basketball

23. Tennessee meets Iowa tonight.  Vols are 0-2 in NCAA Tournament games in Dayton, Ohio.

24. The 13-year old son of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will have surgery to remove a thyroid tumor just hours before tonight’s tipoff. Update: “Today’s surgery for my son Patrick went as planned.”

25. Georgia hosts Vermont tonight in the NIT.  Bulldogs going for their 20th win of the season.

26. LSU travels to San Francisco to meet the Dons tonight in NIT action.

27. Texas A&M plays Wyoming tonight in the CBI Tournament.  Coach Billy Kennedy:  ”Our guys have been good in practice, and it helps us more for next year more than anything, just playing another game, and practicing helps for the future.”

28. Freshman guard Shawn Smith still not with the Aggies.

29. With a win Tuesday night, Albany gets to play Florida in the first round.  Trivia question: Know their team nickname?

30. The President has Florida in his Final Four but picks Michigan State to win it all.

31. Florida Center Patric Young wants to become a minister after basketball.


32. Johnny Manziel and his “Fighting Ducks” Nike shoes. Merrill Hoge on Johnny Football: “He’s got bust written all over him.”

33. Here’s a look at the rings given to Florida State players and coaches for winning the BCS title.

34. Actor Vince Vaughn pays $6.5 million for Lane Kiffin’s California home.

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No SEC Schools Pull The Double: Bowl Game And NCAA Bid

either_orThe SEC has reputation for being a football-first conference.  A quick check of the numbers shows by: 10 of 14 schools reached gridiron bowl games last season.  Just three of 14 SEC basketball squads made the NCAA Tournament.  And now check out the following list of schools and conferences (courtesy of


Arizona (Pac-12)

Kansas State (Big 12)

UL-Lafayette (Sun Belt)

Louisville (AAC)

Michigan State (Big Ten)

Nebraska (Big Ten)

North Carolina (ACC)

Oklahoma (Big 12)

Pittsburgh (ACC)

San Diego State (Mountain West)

Syracuse (ACC)

UCLA (Pac-12)


That’s a listing of the 13 schools who did reach a bowl in football and the NCAA tourney in basketball.  You’ll notice that the other four power conferences — ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 — all had at least one team with multi-sport success.

The SEC’s three Big Dance participants this year all failed to make hey during the fall.  Florida was a disappointment, Tennessee and Kentucky are rebuilding (still).

The year before, two SEC members succeeded on the court and on the field: Florida and Ole Miss.  Missouri missed out on a bowl though the Tigers did land a tourney bid.  The league put nine teams into bowl games.

Now, as Andy Kennedy correctly suggested last week, a bowl game at 6-6 shouldn’t be viewed that much differently than an NIT bid and vice versa.  But for a league with a football-first rep, there hasn’t been much proof the last two years that SEC schools can succeed in the two major sports at once.  Nineteen bowl bids.  Six NCAA bids.  Only two of those six going to teams who also went bowling.

It hasn’t always been this way in the SEC, of course.  But there sure appears to be a gap between football and basketball now.

Sidenote — With Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl, how long before he and Gus Malzahn lead “Up-Tempo U” to a bowl and the NCAAs in the same year?


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Bruce Pearl: “It’s Great To Be A Part Of The Auburn Family”

New Auburn basketball coach is interviewed by Tigers announcer Rod Bramblett.

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Bruce Pearl Greeted By Auburn Fans

New Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl is greeted by fans at Auburn University Regional Airport.

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SEC Headlines 6/16/2013

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. What do you get when you combine NFL tactics with high school recruits?  At Tennessee, it means the green light to hire as many as 18 student workers to help with the recruiting process.

2. Reason for hope at Tennessee in 2013? The offensive line.

3. Kentucky has done better in football against Louisville since Mitch Barnhart arrived than it did before he became the A.D.

4. The investigation into the Howard’s Rock incident at Clemson has South Carolina fans wondering about the motivation. “I hope that true fans can make this a peaceful and respectful rivalry again.”

5. Kevin Sumlins’ father recalls Texas A&M’s victory over Alabama last year.  “You didn’t believe what you had just seen.”

6. Does Georgia have the toughest non-conference schedule in the SEC this year?

7. What impact will sophomore safety Quintavius Burdette have at Ole Miss this year?

College Football

8. College football quietly used a panel last season that reviewed hits to the head and recommended to conferences what punishment should be handed out. Suspension recommended for Quinton Dial hit on Aaron Murray in SEC Championship Game.

9. Proposed college football bowl in Montgomery would be the third for the state of Alabama.

SEC Basketball

10. From Rick Pitino to John Calipari, the focus at Kentucky has shifted from style of play to a players-first program.

11. If a movie about the former Tennessee coach is ever made, what about Seth Rogan in the lead role for the Bruce Pearl story?


12. Conference confusion.  Did you know Johns Hopkins was a member of the Big Ten (lacrosse only)?

13. Gift or theft? Did Russian President Vladimar Putin steal New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring?

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UF’s Boynton Picks UT As The SEC’s Toughest Team In 2012-13 posted a quick Q&A with Florida leading scorer Kenny Boynton.  During the session, the Gator guard warned folks not to underestimate Billy Donovan’s backcourt (despite the losses of Erving Walker and Brad Beal), said that he would be more vocal as a leader as a senior, and explained which players and which team will be the “toughest to go against in the SEC.”

And that’s where it got interesting:


“The toughest guy to guard, off the top of my head, is probably BJ Young at Arkansas.  Actually, I better go with two guys, because Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at Georgia is a tough matchup, too.  As far as a tough team, Tennessee returns just about everyone from last year, and they were coming on really strong there at the end.  They’re going to be really hard to beat.”


Not Kentucky, but Tennessee?

Cuonzo Martin did a tremendous job taking spare parts who hadn’t played much under Bruce Pearl, getting them to buy into his defense-first system, and then leading them to the #2 seed in last year’s SEC Tournament.  But the Vols also lost at home to Middle Tennessee State in Knoxville in the second round of the NIT.

Kentucky won the national championship.

There’s reason for optimism on Rocky Top, to be sure.  And John Calipari and UK are having to rebuild… again.

Still, it’s unusual to see an SEC player pick any team as being a tougher team to beat than whoever the Wildcats put on the floor.

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ESPN’s Katz Has Praise For UT’s Martin

When Andy Katz tosses praise toward the SEC is usually flows in the direction of Lexington, Kentucky and John Calipari (and why not, all he does is win and sign the top class in the nation annually).  But in recent weeks he’s shown a little love to two ex-Purdue assistants… Rick Ray of Mississippi State and, today, Cuonzo Martin of Tennessee.

Katz had this to say just one day after the Vols and Martin landed a commitment from a five-star West Tennessee prospect whom Duke and Kentucky were also chasing:


“Cuonzo Martin is doing a tremendous job of increasing the talent and perception of Tennessee basketball.  Martin secured another commitment Monday for 2013 in landing 6-5 shooting guard Robert Hubbs.  The Vols will be just fine going forward in the SEC under Martin.”


After inheriting a messy situation from Bruce Pearl and the NCAA, Martin got off to a wretched start last season before his squad finally bought into his defense-first system.  When they did, he led Tennessee to a surprising #2 seed in the SEC Tournament in New Orleans before losing in the NIT.

In addition to securing a commitment from Hubbs in Monday’s daylight hours, Martin also got a commitment from the son of 13-year NBA vet Antonio Davis last night. 

He might not have Pearl’s style, flash and flair — and it seems some Vol fans miss that — but Martin seems to be doing everything else right.  Including “increasing the talent and perception” of the Vol hoops program.

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