July 29th, 2013 12:08 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Tennessee
Tags: Brian Jones, ESPN, NCAA, UT
Two former Tennessee assistant coaches are now back in the Division I ranks after the end of their NCAA show-cause penalties. According to CBSSports.com sources, former Bruce Pearl aide Jason Shay will be hired onto Brian Jones’ staff at North Dakota. For the past two seasons, Shay has been an assistant to Steve Forbes at a Florida junior college. Forbes — himself a banished ex-Pearl assistant — was hired this month as an assistant to Gregg Marshall at Wichita State.
Shay and Forbes were handed one-year show-cause penalties for not being truthful with NCAA investigators following a barbecue at Pearl’s house that was attended by a pair of juniors. That’s a no-no and the head coach and his aides covered it up which it made it a major NO-NO.
Tony Jones, Pearl’s top assistant at Tennessee and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, coached in the high school ranks for two seasons before recently resigning from that job under the belief that he had a Division I college gig all lined up. According to Jones — and his fellow ex-Vol assistants — the stigma of their one-year show-cause penalties has made finding a job tougher than expected.
Pearl’s own show-cause penalty — a three-year sentence — will end in August of 2014. He currently works as an ESPN analyst as well handling marketing duties for an East Tennessee-based grocery supply company. The ex-Vol coach has told many around Knoxville that it’s not definite that he will try to get back into coaching when his penalty expires. However, his one-time partner on Sirius/XM radio has a different take. According to Gary Parish, of CBSSports.com, Pearl “is expected to return to Division I coaching.”
One must wonder if Parrish’s expectations are fueled by Pearl’s previous success or by Pearl telling him that he wants to get back into the game. Most coaches, obviously, would. That said, Dick Vitale can’t be ESPN’s lead basketball crazy man forever and who better to become that network’s next showman than a guy who once painted his chest and showed up in attendance for a Tennessee Lady Vols game?
Whether Pearl wants to get back into coaching or not, the dynamic in Knoxville could be quite interesting this winter. Cuonzo Martin has done a solid if not spectacular job since taking the reins at UT two years ago. He has not reached an NCAA Tournament yet, in part, because big man Jeronne Maymon unexpectedly missed the entire season in 2012-13.
If Martin stumbles this season with what appears to be his best roster (on paper), there will be calls for the re-hiring of Pearl. Even if Martin succeeds, some Pearl zealots will still push for a return to Pearl.
But it’s doubtful such a move would take place.
While Mike Hamilton — the AD who hired and then fired Pearl — is gone, the rest of the administration at UT is still in power. Pearl didn’t appreciate the fact that university bosses at first supported them only to change direction on the eve of his final NCAA tourney. And that administration didn’t appreciate Pearl dragging Tennessee’s name through the NCAA mud.
For those reasons, no one should be putting any money on Pearl becoming the Volunteers’ version of Billy Martin anytime soon.
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