HOWARD MEGDAL: The fall of Bruce Pearl has two components to it, and their combination will make it difficult for him to resurrect his career.
Pearl, remember, isn’t just a coach who violated the rules. He is a coach who was largely blackballed for pointing out others who violated the rules, then violated the rules himself. And that means he didn’t make a lot of friends along the way, while ruining his appeal with those who supported him for precisely that reason. In other words, the rules purists aren’t going to take him back, ever. And he has nowhere else to go.
But the other issue here, and what separates a Pearl from, say, Jim Calhoun, is that with the NCAA’s rules, often byzantine and irregularly applied, it is easy to have plausible deniability. But Pearl, based on anecdotes like this, just doesn’t. Announcing you are violating rules as you do it? Saying you learned you need to tell the truth? Come on.
I loved Pearl- his wardrobe, his enthusiasm, his ability to boost a program better known for football. I don’t think he’s getting a second act.
CHRIS PUMMER: Pearl has already gotten his second act, resurrected after the first act closed with actions Dick Vitale even called career suicide.
Whatever you want to say about Pearl, the fact remains that he knows how to win. And that’s the bottom line his next employer will examine before deciding to draw the curtain back on Act Three in the deposed Tennessee coach’s tumultuous career.
It won’t even been that hard of a decision, especially for a school looking to return to the college basketball map, like the Volunteers were when they hired Pearl. Or maybe it will be a team looking to just find a place on that map, like Milwaukee was when they hired him.
You can’t say Pearl didn’t deliver at either stop.
Pearl’s misconduct at Tennessee doesn’t measure up to all-time dirtiest coach contenders like Kelvin Sampson and Jim Harrick. Even if that weren’t obvious, it’s still demonstrably true since Pearl wasn’t slapped with a “show-cause” order by the NCAA that would discourage another school from entertaining fantasies of a hoops turnaround.
In other words, nothing is stopping those schools from trying to do what Kansas State did when it hired Bob Huggins out of a poor-graduation-rate, DUI-fueled PR disaster. Or what Texas Tech did when it turned to Bobby Knight and his anger management issues.
Tim Floyd still has a college coaching job, and his transgressions at USC compelled the school vacate a season’s worth of wins along with a self-imposed postseason ban. Nothing like that is happening at Tennessee.
If Pearl wants to work again, he will. And you might even be surprised at how far he hasn’t fallen in the coaching world.