Tennessee still botching Bruce Pearl firing (or lack thereof)

Bruce Pearl may be out of a job -- finally -- after Tennessee's last game. (AP photo)

Bruce Pearl may be out of a job -- finally -- after Tennessee's last game. (AP photo)

There was a moment in 2010 when I actually felt sorry for the Tennessee athletic department because it’s not every day a university gets blindsided and has its football coach bolt after one season, even if that coach (Lane Kiffin) is pretty much a clown.

Well, any sympathy is gone now. Seldom has an athletic department so completely botched a situation as Tennessee did with basketball coach Bruce Pearl. He should’ve been fired in September when he admitting to lying to the NCAA and committing several violations stemming from hosting a barbecue for recruits at his home. Pearl even asked the father of one of the recruits to help him cover up the incident.

It gets better. Four days AFTER Pearl wept and asked for forgiveness, Jimmy Swaggart style, in a news conference, Pearl and assistant coach committed another violation, making illegal contact with another potential recruit.

Now comes this: Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton, after inexplicably allowing Pearl to keep his job this season despite the NCAA’s unethical conduct charges, is suddenly balking on the coach’s future. When asked if Pearl would be the team’s coach next season on a Knoxville radio station Wednesday, Hamilton responded: “We don’t know the answer today.”

The problem is not that Pearl is in trouble, or that many now expect him to fired after Tennessee’s last game. The problem is that, because of Hamilton, this is being debated now. The Volunteers play in the NCAA tournament Friday. This isn’t something the Tennessee players should have to deal with now. It all could have been avoided if a change was made six months ago.

Back in September, Tennessee chose to ignore the fact that Pearl is a dog with fleas because, well, he’s a really good basketball coach. Now that they’re in the tournament, Hamilton is creating a firestorm at the worst conceivable time.

“I think that we’ve done a lot of soul-searching about the direction of our program and we’ll continue to do that,’’ Hamilton said.

Soul-searching. Now that’s funny.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

193 comments Add your comment

Paul

March 17th, 2011
10:18 am

So is Ohio St. “botching” the Tressel fiasco?

Jeff Schultz

March 17th, 2011
10:19 am

Paul — Yes. The difference is that Ohio State isn’t playing any games yet.

The Walrus

March 17th, 2011
10:19 am

Unreal. Lousy timing. Pearl should’ve been gone long ago.

TYPICAL

March 17th, 2011
10:21 am

the more you Bobby Cremins haters balk at some GT fans wanting him back, the more I pray DRAD does just that and Bobby will return.

The Pearls of basketball are a dime a dozen.

Bet this clown never hitchhiked to go check out a recruit when all the rental cars were taken

MS. Bully

March 17th, 2011
10:24 am

Now I know why Scotty Hopson decided to go to UT at the last minute. That’s OK Scotty, Miss. State just keeps on beating UT with or without you!!

ormewood

March 17th, 2011
10:26 am

Jeff, I agree completely. Hamilton is a joke. If ever a coach deserved a pink-slip, it is Pearl.

joe

March 17th, 2011
10:26 am

The TN AD needs to be fired…

Eraserhead

March 17th, 2011
10:27 am

Not sure why 790 The Zone has this love affair with Pearl. I agree Jeff that he should have been fired in September. How about the A.D. there? What a string of bad decisions he’s made over the last several years. The only bright spot is that the class of women’s basketball still resides there and her team might win another title this year.

mullking

March 17th, 2011
10:28 am

Hamilton has had his shot and needs to go.The previous football hire was awful.
Kiffin showed no respect to the traditions of the SEC and UT in particular. Kiffin is also unethical. To say stuff regarding basketball less than 48 hours before the team plays is stupid.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 17th, 2011
10:28 am

As bad as it is that Tenn will wait until after the tournament to fire him if they do . I think its even worse that some team will jump to hire him and he will get an immediate fresh start and Tenn will pay the price just like what Kiffin did to them .

Wisky Breath

March 17th, 2011
10:29 am

Damn Jeff, I didn’t think you had the ability to analyze something like this. I thought you were either lazy or just didn’t have the abilility.
Nice job. The timing is good too. You may figure out internet reporting after all.

Big Canoe

March 17th, 2011
10:30 am

Pearl ain’t no pearl.

Montgomery Burns

March 17th, 2011
10:32 am

None of this bodes well for Jim Tressel. Or at least it shouldn’t. At least Pearl belatedly came forward to the NCAA (and didn’t knowingly play ineligible players). Ohio State’s slap on the wrist surely won’t be the last word on this matter…

Alabama | MrSEC.com

March 17th, 2011
10:33 am

[...] don’t be surprised to see him as USC’s starter in the fall.14.  Writers continue to wail away at Tennessee, Bruce Pearl and Mike Hamilton today.More to [...]

snoopy

March 17th, 2011
10:33 am

There is a LOT of ’slime’ in college athletics…

But when it’s the “Leader” of young men & the face of a university, they are held to a higher standard & rightfully so…

Tressel, Pearl, Kiffin & a few others should not be allowed to coach in college… Professionally? OK, but they are not morally within the rules to lead minors into adulthood. Or better said they are pathatic examples to lead Boyz to Men…

Hankie Aron

March 17th, 2011
10:36 am

Good piece here Jeff, The UT and Ohio State ADs comments and actions tells me universities are scared to fire a successful coach. Really what was UT basketball before Pearl? A coach with a losing or sub .500 coach? Can him and think nothing about it. A very successful coach who commits multiple violations, now we have go to think about that one. It’s sickening that values and morals mean absolutely nothing to the NCAA and sadly to a lot of fans.

wdm

March 17th, 2011
10:36 am

Why are you concerned with Tennessee schools? According to your fellow douchebag cohort Chip Towers the reason the AJC didn’t allow comments on the story of the arrest of 4 Auburn football players is because it is an out of state school. No wonder AJC’s circulation continues to spiral downward. Beat up on the state teams and treat the out of state schools with respect.

Hankie Aron

March 17th, 2011
10:39 am

I gotta say you got a laugh outta me for that “Jimmy Swaggert style” comment. Pamela Anderson’s upper body is more real than that pathetic Pearl apology

bucket

March 17th, 2011
10:41 am

I think your are on the money here Mr. Shultz. Mr. Hamilton has botched this situation from the start, but even if he has plans to clean house after the season it could have waited for a few days or a week or two at the most. By speaking out now he has taken the focus off of the players and the overall good of the university and that is just wrong. Pearl will land on his feet at some point regardless of what happens, but this may be the only shot that these kids have at basketball glory and it shouldn’t be yanked away from them because alot of adults have been making some bad decisions.

Worm

March 17th, 2011
10:42 am

he can always get a job at USC with Kiffin and Kevin O’Neill.

Chaos like me.

March 17th, 2011
10:44 am

Mark, what I really want to know is why Hamilton is keeping his AD job? I agree, Pearl should have been gone with the initial drop of the NCAA gavel, but UT administration and fans need to wise up. Is any major program in quite so much disarray over the last two years?

Chaos like me.

March 17th, 2011
10:45 am

Sorry, meant Jeff. You look so much alike.

John Galt

March 17th, 2011
10:46 am

Have Bruce Pearl and Jim Harrick ever been photographed together? Are we sure that they aren’t the same person?

Hankie Aron

March 17th, 2011
10:46 am

I kinda have to agree with you wdm but you need to remember every blog post you make is exactly what they want. Controversy breeds attention. The more it involves local teams especially in a negative light the more people are going to pay attention. Kudos as Bradley would say to Schultz for being blatantly honest about Pearl. I find it refreshing.

Paul in RDU

March 17th, 2011
10:47 am

I wonder if Hamilton is waiting for a “show cause” letter from the NCAA before firing Pearl.
I am not holding my breath on Tressel getting a show cause letter.

John Galt

March 17th, 2011
10:47 am

Hankie Aron-

I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.

RG

March 17th, 2011
10:47 am

As a UT alum, completely agree. Regardless of the good things he’s done for the program, he should have been fired already.

Hamilton needs to go as well. Our athletic dept has been in disaray for years. See Fulmer firing, Kiffin hiring, Kiffing leaving, Pearl….

Hankie Aron

March 17th, 2011
10:50 am

While we are at it, what about John Calipari? This guy leaves huge violation messes at every school he leaves and get raises for it at his next gig. The reason- he’s a good coach. Also Pete Carroll faced no problems when he left USC for the Seahawks. He’s sitting pretty after an unexpected playoff berth and could care less what happens to the kids in Trojanville

gdawginkalamazoo

March 17th, 2011
10:52 am

Make it to the Final Four and Pearl gets a raise and contract extention and Hamilton is considered a genius for hanging onto a liar and cheat. But hey, that UT athletics the past few years. Buy integrity for 1.5 million and 8 games? It’s for sell, just cheaper at Ohio State ask Jimmy Tressel his onlycost $250,000 and two games.

Volocity

March 17th, 2011
10:53 am

Many Vol fans are ready for Hamilton to make his exit. We’re even willing to open the door and kick his azz through it. They say Kiffin’s bolting was unavoidable and unforesee-able, but their should have been stiffer contractual guidelines in place. The Dooley hire may yet work out, but there’s no way a major program should have to take such a gamble for such a prominent position. And now, floundering around while the team is playing a tournament and the hoops coach is throwing it in our face is just too much. Time for the madness to end.

Destin Dawg

March 17th, 2011
10:53 am

I can not imagine why anyone would go to Tennessee !!!! unless it was only possible full ride scholarship ???

drunkyard dawg

March 17th, 2011
10:53 am

The AD should be fired, Pearl has already been suspended for his violations (which are minor compared to tressel’s playing of ineligble players). pearl has served his time and should coach the vowels, they would plummet to the cellar of the sec east without him.

RxDawg

March 17th, 2011
10:53 am

Wow… an honest negative story about a sport’s team not in Georgia? Better watch out or someone might say there’s integrity here lol.

Hankie Aron

March 17th, 2011
10:53 am

RG- as a UGA fan, the UT fans and alumni who I find as mostly good people, deserve much much better than they are getting from the university outside of Pat Summitt

Chunkynem

March 17th, 2011
10:53 am

Could Bruce Pearl be the next GT Basketball Coach? He would win and put butts in the seats.

Ole Smoky

March 17th, 2011
10:56 am

Time to clean house @ UT . Pretty sure Dooley’s safe…

joe

March 17th, 2011
10:59 am

People go to Tenn (and FL, Bama, Auburn, etc) cause they enjoy beating the crap out of the dawgs!!!

chiefdawg

March 17th, 2011
11:00 am

Eraserhead 790 has a love affair with Pearl because he is Jewish and so is Steakie Shapiro.

Volocity

March 17th, 2011
11:00 am

As a member of the SEC (Sans Ethics Conference) we are all willing to make some compromises for the sake of competing and winning at the highest levels. But Hamilton has been far too shaky in his judgment and Pearl has gone way over the line. Time for both of them to go. Dooley may be clean, but can he compete and win at a satisfactory level? We’ll find out soon enough, but neither Hamilton nor Pearl should be around when we do. The difference between Pearl and Tressel is that Pearl looks the part of used-car salesman while Tressel is a true hypocrite: a thug in pastor’s clothing.

Trojan

March 17th, 2011
11:00 am

UT is clean compared to Auburn. Athletes taking fake independant studies, Cam simply allowing his father to chose a school, Cam even being admitted after his history of theft and academic cheating.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 17th, 2011
11:01 am

The thing with the Dolley hiring is that you know you have a good, honest, hard working guy in therewho will work to make sure things are done properly.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 17th, 2011
11:02 am

I know how to spell DOOLEY btw.

Freddie's Falcon

March 17th, 2011
11:03 am

Joe – it’s because they don’t get accepted into UGA that everyone hates including you. You’re not that smart and everyone knows it.

redneckbluedog

March 17th, 2011
11:04 am

You people don’t know what you’re talking about…you’re just hoping Hamilton will get a DUI…..Athletic directors are slimy people dealing with slippery situations regarding, mainly, the NCAA, who is not really all that upstanding either, but puts up a good front. The bottom line is winning and developing successful programs so they can get the fans to fork out their hard-earned money. If Pearl and Hamilton can get away with staying….good for them….

Tenndawg

March 17th, 2011
11:05 am

Fellow dawg fans, we better take our shots at UT now because the NCAA will come home to roost in Athens soon enough. Let’s not be guilty of the same blind loyalty and delusional support as the Vowel Nation. We all swim in muddy waters and the NCAA is the biggest bottom feeder of them all.

GT Dude

March 17th, 2011
11:06 am

I think the best case scenario is:
FOX leaves the dawg house and PEARL runs over to Athens, fleas and all

rock steady freddy

March 17th, 2011
11:09 am

WHAT????? A story about an out of state school? Why Shultzie, you told us the other day, when we asked why you didn’t write about the Auburn situation, that you just covered the instate schools. Well, the Vols are not in state. WE WANT THE LOW DOWN ON THE AUBURN HEIST! Don’t target some schools and throw us under the bus and don’t do others.

Charles

March 17th, 2011
11:09 am

I agree that they should have fired him immediately, but they didn’t because UT is a win at all costs program.

However, the die is now cast and it’s over. To that end, I don’t think you really get it on the current state of things, Jeff. They are doing the right thing holding off for now. Tennessee is going to fire Pearl; they began laying the groundwork for that yesterday.

But it’s wise for them to sit tight until sanctions come down so that they have the proverbial ‘just cause’ to oust him…much like UGA did with Harrick.

That way they avoid settlement negotiations and save a huge wad of cash.

Volocity

March 17th, 2011
11:10 am

GaTech nor any other high major school will take Pearl at this point: Hiring him is like sending an engraved invitation to the NCAA to scrutinize your whole program. More likely scenario is UGA’s Fox goes to NC State, Pearl goes to UGA, and UT hires another relative unknown like Dooley. But the bottom line is that Hamilton has to go. One more scandal and UT will be flirting with SMU-style justice. We don’t want that, don’t deserve that, and sure can’t afford it.

Volocity

March 17th, 2011
11:11 am

And we don’t have Ohio State’s teflon-coated immunity from NCAA action.