April 3rd, 2014 10:18 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: AU, Auburn, Bruce Pearl, jersey
When 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.
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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