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UT Dismisses Safety Jackson

The past 24 hours have been an emotional roller-coaster ride for fans of Tennessee.  First came the distressing news that legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early onset dementia.  Then word leaked out that popular former men’s coach Bruce Pearl would be hit with a multi-year show cause ban by the NCAA.  Things began to turn for the better when sources revealed that the school itself would be spared further penalties by that same NCAA.  At least Vol fans got a dose of good news before bed.

But there’s been yet another downturn this morning.  Oft-troubled Vol safety Janzen Jackson has been dismissed from Tennessee’s football team.

“Our program has devoted a tremendous amount of energy, resources, support, and care in an effort to help Janzen manage his personal challenges,” said Derek Dooley this morning.  “I will always be there to help him as a person, but there comes a time when a player’s actions preclude him from the privilege of playing for the University of Tennessee football team.

“Although I’m disappointed with this outcome, we will never compromise the long-term organizational values and goals we maintain here at Tennessee.”

Jackson — a Louisiana-native who Lane Kiffin swiped from LSU at the last minute in February 2009 — has had a string of troubles since arriving in Knoxville.  Though charges were later dropped, he was in a car with two teammates when they allegedly attempted to rob a group of people outside a convenience store in November of ’09.

Sources close to UT’s program say that he had also found himself in hot water for curfew violations, marijuana issues, and even stealing clothes and apparel from fellow students.

Leading up to last December’s Music City Bowl, Jackson was allowed to go home to Louisiana.  After skipping almost all of the team’s bowl preps, he was welcomed back and allowed to play in the game.  Sources have said the fact Jackson was given all of his bowl gifts ruffled feathers with some on the team who had been on-hand for all of the team’s practices.

After the bowl, Jackson withdrew from school and once again headed home to Louisiana.  He returned in time for preseason camp and was once again welcomed back onto Dooley’s team.

Would Dooley have been so patient with a troubled walk-on?  We’re guessing no.

But it matters not at this point.  Jackson — a second-team All-SEC pick by league coaches last year — has now finished his UT career with six interceptions and 106 tackles in 23 games played.

No specific reason was given for his dismissal.

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Pearl Puts Knoxville Home On The Market

The downfall of Bruce Pearl began with a barbecue at his Knoxville mansion.  When NCAA investigators showed him a photo taken at the barbecue, the former Tennessee basketball coach said he could not recognize where the photo was taken.  That sealed the man’s professional fate.

Now Pearl has put the house on the market.  “Now that I’m not the basketball coach and may not be doing quite as much entertaining, it’s bigger than what we need,” the ex-coach said.

It’s also likely more expensive than he needs, too.  Pearl paid $2.1 million for house in 2008 and he’s listing it for $2.69 million today.

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Ex-Vol Aide Jones Says Lawyers Kept Coaches From Sharing Info With NCAA

When asked about a grainy photo of Bruce Pearl and then-prospect Aaron Craft, Tennessee assistant coaches Tony Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes didn’t offer up much in the way of information about the photo.

Asked if the photo was taken in Pearl’s home, they said they couldn’t tell.  One suggested the shot could’ve been Photoshopped.

Shay’s wife was in the photo, but the assistant didn’t point that out to investigators.


“(Attorney) Michael Glazier advised all of us coaches to just answer the questions that were being asked and do not elaborate on anything,” Jones told Mike Griffith of The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “The question that was posed to me was, did I recognized where this grainy photo of Bruce Pearl and Aaron Craft was taken; there was a microwave in the background.  We have a microwave in the Pratt Pavilion, where Aaron was also around Bruce, so I could not say for certain that the picture was taken at Bruce’s house.  I was being truthful, and I answered the question to the best of my recollection.”

Jones also states that he was “never charged with lying to the committee or unethical conduct.”  Instead he was hit with “not being forthcoming.”


At this point, it’s probably best for Jones, Shay and Forbes to stop talking about their takedown.  Whether he’s telling the truth or not, there aren’t 10 people who are going to read Jones’ latest statement and believe that he really couldn’t tell and didn’t know where a photo was taken.

Jones isn’t the first ex-UT coach to toss some blame at UT’s counsel.  Pearl’s attorney said that Tennessee’s lawyer didn’t reveal the photo to the coaches until moments before their meetings with investigators… despite having known about the photo for days.  And at least one other ex-assistant has said off the record that Glazier told the coaches not to volunteer — no pun intended — too much information.

But as we asked last month, why would an attorney who specializes in NCAA cases try to undermine UT’s coaches in anyway?  Remember, the school chose to stand by Pearl and crew long after their meetings with investigators.

We’re not buying any conspiracy theories on this one.  And as much as UT’s ex-coaches want to clear their names and spin things into a more positive direction, they’d be best zipping their lips and moving forward with their lives.  This isn’t a PR battle that they can win at this point.  Fair or not.

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Pearl Says His Dismissal At UT Was Part Of God’s Plan

Asked on Nashville radio station WGFX-FM about his downfall at Tennessee, former Vol hoops coach Bruce Pearl took a particularly Calvinistic view of his situation yesterday afternoon:

“Unfortunately (the NCAA interview that eventually cost him his job) is in my mind, it is in my heart.  When you wake up, when you got to bed, it crosses your mind all the time.  But that’s a cross that I’ve got to bear and it’s not just that interview, but it’s how everything turned out.  I continue to swallow a major pill of accountability. … God’s got a plan and His plan was that we were going to be done coaching at Tennessee at this time.  That was His plan.  And we’re going to follow it, follow it with as much honor and integrity as we can.  But I’m not going to deny that we’re sad and that we’re disappointed.”

Now, on a personal level, I’m not big on the Calvinistic view of pre-destiny.  I’m not saying it’s wrong, just saying it’s not the take of yours truly.  For millions, however, “It was His plan” is used to explain all sorts of horrible unexplainables every day.

Why did the child die of cancer?  “God’s plan.”

Why did the jet airliner crash?  “God’s plan.”

Why was the World Trade Center attacked?  “God’s plan.”

Count me among those who would like to believe that if there is a God out there, he invented us to be more than just fleshy chess pieces that he pushes across his big board in the sky.

So, did Pearl lie to NCAA investigators because God willed it?  Again, many would argue yes.  I’ll argue no.

I think it’s much more likely that Pearl lied to the NCAA because he — like anyone reading (or writing) this site’s words — is a flawed human being.  He lied about a barbecue and it cost him his job.  If there’s a God out there who enjoys making his creatures suffer like that, I don’t know that I’d be much of a fan.

No, I’m guessing God is who Pearl should be turning to now.  Instead of thinking about what God planned for him aeons ago, Pearl should focus on how his God can help him get ready for his own personal Act II.  And if Pearl wants forgiveness for his actions, he’ll find that with God long before he finds it from most human beings.  Especially since he happened to be a coach.

Pearl has built-in supporters and detractors who don’t gave a hoot about the facts of his case.  He’s either “our beloved Bruce” or “their scumbag Pearl.”  When he says this — as he did on radio yesterday –  “We didn’t have ineligible student-athletes, and we didn’t pay players, and there weren’t agents involved, and there was no academic fraud”… it leaves Vol fans to say, “Amen!” and rival fans to yell, “Stone him!”

Did Pearl make his own bed by lying to investigators?  Yep, and that’s a top sin when it comes to the NCAA.  That lie eventually cost him what he had turned into one of the 20 best basketball jobs in the country.  So while I don’t think his lie and dismissal were part of some divine plan, I do believe his downfall was of Biblical proportions.

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Harris Doesn’t Regret Going To UT

Waiting for the NBA draft tonight, Tobias Harris says he doesn’t regret signing with Tennessee… even though he had to deal with Bruce Pearl’s suspension and multiple NCAA worries all year long:

“I don’t regret anything in life.  I think everything happens for a reason, and I look at it as God’s plan with everything.  Yeah, I wish the year could have gone a little smoother and all the NCAA troubles weren’t interfering with us, but at the same time, I built so many relationships with the guys on the team.  We’re like brother forever, and it’s a great feeling when you have that.”

Harris is expected to go in the mid- to late-first round tonight.

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Dooley Took Lessons From NCAA Hearings

A couple of weekends ago, Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley was summoned to Indianapolis.  Even though he had no hand in the football violations under Lane Kiffin’s watch or the basketball violations under Bruce Pearl’s, the NCAA wanted Dooley (and UT basketball coach Cuonzo Martin) in the house for educational purposes.

And Dooley says he did do some learnin’:

“I do think when you see how one bad choice or one bad decision can impact so many different lives, it resonates with you.  I think it was also sort of a good reminder of how the landscape is changing.  It really is — moving away and putting more and more responsibility on the head coach to really have comment of the whole shop.  It’s challenging to be able to do that, but that’s the landscape right now…

(After the hearing) I had a long meeting with the coaches and I wanted them to kind of get a feel for what I felt in Indianapolis.  They’re the ones in the field more than me.  You’re constantly trying to promote an atmosphere of compliance.  You want to balance the — I don’t want to use the word pressure — but you’re pushing your coaches to perform and pushing them to get results in recruiting.  But at the same time, you’ve got to make sure they understand it’s never at the expense of the rules.  That’s just something you’ve go to constantly do.”

Tougher, harsher NCAA sanctions against programs and individual coaches — head or assistant — might help fend off the lure to cut corners and cheat.

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Pearl Doesn’t Want To Be A Distraction For UT

Ex-Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl is still living in Knoxville.  For that reason, some in the media will continue to turn to him for information.  Like why he didn’t attend the opening night of Knoxville’s much-hyped summer basketball league:

“I care about the guys and I respect them, but I don’t want to be a distraction and I have to respect the new coaching staff.  I’ve stayed in touch with Scotty (Hopson) and Tobias (Harris), and Tobias invited me to attend the (NBA) draft with him, which I consider an honor.”

Pearl is also having to abide by a clause in his separation agreement with UT that prevents him from interfering with Cuonzo Martin’s team or serving as a distraction to the players.

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SEC Headlines – 6/10/11 Part Three

1.  Kids are taking to new black bear mascot at Ole Miss — and that should be all that matters.  (Again, if you’re an adult upset over the stuffed animal suit some guy or gal is wearing, you’ve got way too much time on your hands.)

2.  Kentucky opens its football season in Nashville on a Thursday night at 9:15pm ET against Western Kentucky.  Yet the powers-that-be still expect a good crowd.

3.  Outgoing AD Mike Hamilton started the ball rolling on his resignation, not Tennessee officials.

4.  Cuonzo Martin has rehired an ex-Bruce Pearl aide as UT’s video coordinator.

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Hamilton Wants To Help UT “Heal”

Quoting scripture Mike Hamilton announced his resignation from Tennessee today and he made it clear that he wants to help UT “heal” both as an athletic department and as a fanbase.

Hamilton said that he did not want to be a “lightning rod” for negativity.

Hamilton announced that he will attend UT’s NCAA hearing this weekend.  Unlike Lane Kiffin and Bruce Pearl — who will be in Indianapolis on their own — Hamilton will still represent Tennessee at the hearing and he said that he believes “it won’t be bad” for UT to enter the meetings with a new football coach, a new basketball coach and a new athletic director.

Hamilton has been butchered by many in the press and in the Tennessee fanbase, but if he is able to fall on his sword and help UT’s NCAA case in the process, he may help his reputation with Vol fans.

UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek said that he was pleased with the job Hamilton was doing but that he did not try to talk Hamilton out of his resignation decision.  He said that Hamilton approached him with this idea in Destin last week.

Tennessee is aiming to have a new AD hired by the beginning of football season.

UPDATE — Hamilton will be getting a nice fat $1.3 million parting gift from Tennessee.

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Donovan Has Stayed In Touch With Pearl

Jim Tressel and his downfall have been hot topics at this week’s SEC meetings with a number of coaches showing support for the man whose entire career — including all the good deeds he’d ever done — will now be overshadowed by the word “cheating.”

Well the SEC has its own version of Tressel in recently-fired Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl.  And former Pearl rival — and friend — Billy Donovan says he’s been in touch with the former coach.

“I think he’s trying to move on from it,” Florida’s coach said yesterday.  “A lot of times when things happen, whether it’s Bruce Pearl or Jim Tressel, people want to push back and stay away. … It’s unfortunate what happened.  I think that’s also part of life.  His mindset is to try to move forward.”

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