Adams: Pearl teaching SEC to stay on schedule

Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl has only been in the SEC four years, but he has assumed a leadership role. He leads by scheduling.

There was more than one reason for the recent down year in SEC basketball. But scheduling is a good place to start in assessing why seven conference teams won 21 or more games yet only three made the NCAA tournament.

Those feckless non-conference opponents with which the SEC spent much of December came back to bite conference teams in March. And it's no secret that SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who headed up the NCAA tournament selection committee, would like to see conference teams upgrade their schedules.

If he wants to make that point at this week's spring meetings, which begin today, he need look no further than UT's last schedule, which wasn't much different from Pearl's other three schedules. For four years, he has tried his best to schedule the best programs in the country.

And it has paid off with four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

"The way you make yourself relevant is through scheduling," Pearl said. "We don't have to have a top-five strength of schedule every year. But we need to be in the top 20 every year.

"Look at the teams we've played - Kansas, Memphis, Ohio State, Texas. Our fans got to see Kevin Durant. They have gotten to see the best players in college basketball."

That's just how Pearl planned it when he took over what had become an irrelevant program. He looked at a conference schedule that didn't have a UT game on CBS. Then, he called for help.

He called Texas, Memphis and Oklahoma State. He called anyone who could help put his team on television.

"I did it for ESPN," Pearl said. "And that's the truth."

He quickly got more than he bargained for. When the Vols upset Texas in Austin in his first season, they popped up in the top 25. They were suddenly relevant.

By scheduling top teams and beating enough of them, UT has remained relevant. You will see more of the same next season when, for example, national championship contender Kansas comes to Thompson-Boling Arena.

Such scheduling gives the Vols more than exposure. It enhances their strength of schedule for NCAA tournament purposes.

"If you're going to play the Big 12, play Texas and Kansas," Pearl said. "If you're going to play the Big Ten, play Ohio State and Michigan State. It's about name recognition. It's about RPI.

"That's why we went to Kansas instead of another Big 12 school. It's hard to win at Texas A&M, but you don't get the credit (if you do win)."

He has taken a similar approach in scheduling mid-majors. He avoids the bottom feeders and seeks out the upper-echelon teams from mid-major conferences.

There's a risk in scheduling the likes of Western Kentucky, Belmont and Chattanooga - particularly when you do it at a neutral site. Pearl is willing to take that risk but understands why others might not, pointing out that in the last two years three conference coaches have been fired during the season.

"We've had eight new coaches (since Pearl has been at UT)," he said. "We've had seven firings, and Tubby (Smith at Kentucky) was encouraged to leave."

But winning 20 games with the help of accommodating non-conference schedules sometimes provides nothing more than false security. Former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie won 22 games this past season but lost his job when the Wildcats failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Despite all the advantages of a strong schedule, Pearl admits he might have overscheduled this past season when his team had new players in key roles.

"But I won't change my scheduling philosophy," he said.

For a conference in need of a scheduling role model, that's worthy of applause.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 65

mdvol writes:

feckless?

armyvol22 writes:

Learn for Pat Coach. She is the best at scheduling.
Keep it up and Go Vols!

RoadTrip writes:

The basketball Vols are in the highly skilled hands of a master. We will all see what we want to see during his tenure as coach with our Vols - chanpionships and Final Fours. Just a matter of time.

For those that think he needs to learn how to coach better - he uses the methods he uses based on the talent he can attract to the hill. The more success they have the more talent he will get and the more you will see just how well this guy can coach.

CoachFulmer writes:

Way to lead by example Coach Pearl.

GO VOLS!

GerryOP writes:

In Bruce we trust...

Rick4UT writes:

Pearl is the man...I would rather have a chance to beat a top 10 team than lose to an almost top 20 team.
GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!

utvolsfan001 writes:

Thats what it takes...I can't speak for other UT BB fans, but it's nice to see your team on national TV 6-8 times a yr...Keep it up Bruce...

utvolsfan001 writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't fall of the bandwagon pal...I know it's tough to pull for a perinnial power every yr (UNC), yet come over and diss on a team on the rise...

golfballs03 writes:

If Tyler Smith comes back we should be a Top 15 team. BTW, is Kentucky really going catapult themselves from NIT mediocrity to title contenders just because of 2 players? I hope Pearl lays to rest all this media fawning over Calipari and UK.

smillar31 writes:

Please note: This comment is directed to other Vols fans, not interlopers.

I seldom post comments, but this just struck me. Here's an article about CBP and the Basketball Vols and within the first ten comments is a 'loper named "TarHeelsRule." A lot of people get upset by all these interlopers and their more often than not idiotic comments, but I for one LOVE seeing either supporters of the basketball program that's won two of the past five NCs (UNC) or of the football program that's won 2 of the last 3 NCs (Florida). Seriously though, at the present, both of these programs are clearly superior to UT in their respective sport, so we should all be flattered that UNC and UF fans take the time to check out our site and post their opinions. Shouldn't we be flattered that the Vols invade their thoughts often enough for them to spend time here? I mean it would be like if UT had enjoyed the same recent success and our fans spent all their time on, let's say, Mississippi State's or Georgia Tech's board trashing them. Of course, we'd have no place being there...UNLESS they were a program on the way up and we had something to worry about. Did I say that? I'm sorry UF and UNC fans, I didn't mean to imply that you worry about us. So Vols fans, read their comments, let 'em come. Just thank them for the flattery and the compliment of taking the time to worry about UT's programs.

murrayvol writes:

in response to mdvol:

feckless?

feckless:
1)incompetent, ineffective, futile
2)simply out of fecks

allvol9 writes:

I love the way Pearl schedules the best....and has brought national exposure for UT. Keep it up coach.

murrayvol writes:

in response to golfballs03:

If Tyler Smith comes back we should be a Top 15 team. BTW, is Kentucky really going catapult themselves from NIT mediocrity to title contenders just because of 2 players? I hope Pearl lays to rest all this media fawning over Calipari and UK.

Yes they are. With Patterson and Meeks (he will return) and the incoming class they will be very good.

The good news is Pearl's coaching style matches up better w/Cal than Gillespie.

smillar31 writes:

in response to gatorz5:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thank you gatorz5 for thinking of us!

FLAVOLS writes:

in response to gatorz5:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe you can be his next bi-atch dude. Oh yeah, that's right, the Gators already are.

murrayvol writes:

in response to smillar31:

Please note: This comment is directed to other Vols fans, not interlopers.

I seldom post comments, but this just struck me. Here's an article about CBP and the Basketball Vols and within the first ten comments is a 'loper named "TarHeelsRule." A lot of people get upset by all these interlopers and their more often than not idiotic comments, but I for one LOVE seeing either supporters of the basketball program that's won two of the past five NCs (UNC) or of the football program that's won 2 of the last 3 NCs (Florida). Seriously though, at the present, both of these programs are clearly superior to UT in their respective sport, so we should all be flattered that UNC and UF fans take the time to check out our site and post their opinions. Shouldn't we be flattered that the Vols invade their thoughts often enough for them to spend time here? I mean it would be like if UT had enjoyed the same recent success and our fans spent all their time on, let's say, Mississippi State's or Georgia Tech's board trashing them. Of course, we'd have no place being there...UNLESS they were a program on the way up and we had something to worry about. Did I say that? I'm sorry UF and UNC fans, I didn't mean to imply that you worry about us. So Vols fans, read their comments, let 'em come. Just thank them for the flattery and the compliment of taking the time to worry about UT's programs.

Just a couple of points smillar.

I don't get upset with lopers for being on our board. I get upset when their comments have no substance and no purpose other than to rile the GVX natives into inane give and take that does nothing but ruin the thread.

I seriously doubt that most of them are real fans. They just love to throw dung at the wall and see if it sticks.

Ask yourself this. Would I want to spend as much time on an opponents board as some of these guys spend here? I think not.

smillar31 writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Just a couple of points smillar.

I don't get upset with lopers for being on our board. I get upset when their comments have no substance and no purpose other than to rile the GVX natives into inane give and take that does nothing but ruin the thread.

I seriously doubt that most of them are real fans. They just love to throw dung at the wall and see if it sticks.

Ask yourself this. Would I want to spend as much time on an opponents board as some of these guys spend here? I think not.

Precisely my point murray. But it seems like a lot of people do get upset. I think it's funny that they're here. But I agree with you whole-heartedly!

smillar31 writes:

in response to DCflorida1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No DC. I didn't state to ignore you. I stated that we should thank you. So, "We thank you whole-heartedly for allowing the University of Tennessee to consume you. Have a great night dreaming about the Vols!"

murrayvol writes:

in response to Lostballnhighweeds:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Happy to be of service! :)

Down_The_Field writes:

did the article mention that CBP owns grease head down in gaynsvul and his group of elite nba bound players? only one loss and that was when ole #5 was on the bench hurt.

JohnsonCity_George writes:

in response to DCflorida1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So, dude, does he need better recruits to beat the gators by, what, more points? I don't get your point.

JohnsonCity_George writes:

in response to gatorz5:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why is it the little florida fans worry about CBP being able to get a date? I'm guessing he's not as big a dweeb as the florida coaches. He actually has a life the he is enjoying very much.

Laydbakvol writes:

At least nobody said first. Unless feckless counts.

dvols writes:

tn fans...........ky bball..they made fun of memphis until......when? hahahahaha

college bball will be as cool as college baseball soon.

never a football playoff....hey adams! interview roy cramer on the sec...if u can..

im just sayin

GR82BaTennesseeVOL writes:

in response to smillar31:

Please note: This comment is directed to other Vols fans, not interlopers.

I seldom post comments, but this just struck me. Here's an article about CBP and the Basketball Vols and within the first ten comments is a 'loper named "TarHeelsRule." A lot of people get upset by all these interlopers and their more often than not idiotic comments, but I for one LOVE seeing either supporters of the basketball program that's won two of the past five NCs (UNC) or of the football program that's won 2 of the last 3 NCs (Florida). Seriously though, at the present, both of these programs are clearly superior to UT in their respective sport, so we should all be flattered that UNC and UF fans take the time to check out our site and post their opinions. Shouldn't we be flattered that the Vols invade their thoughts often enough for them to spend time here? I mean it would be like if UT had enjoyed the same recent success and our fans spent all their time on, let's say, Mississippi State's or Georgia Tech's board trashing them. Of course, we'd have no place being there...UNLESS they were a program on the way up and we had something to worry about. Did I say that? I'm sorry UF and UNC fans, I didn't mean to imply that you worry about us. So Vols fans, read their comments, let 'em come. Just thank them for the flattery and the compliment of taking the time to worry about UT's programs.

Dude...you rock.

oldorange writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Each one of us apreciate our coming to the GoVols website. We know that by being here your showing respect to our team. We hope you will continue to be a UT supporter.

FLVol writes:

in response to TarHeelsRule:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You have no idea what your talking about.

MidTennVol writes:

Play the best, anywhere at anytime. Totally agree. That's how you get better and start the SEC schedule battle-scarred, mean and hungry.

Now if we can just get some top recruits by promising them immediate playing time...

HtownVol writes:

All I know is that UT has been the best team in the SEC for the last 2-3 years. Every basketball follower knows that. Without CBP this would not be the case. He is the best thing to happen to UT b-ball since I have followed them... 15 years?? He doesnt need great talent. Look at his 1st season. We were so much better that year than 09' and we had 10X the talent this year. When a coach can win with average talent that is all on the coach. I dont care how many players we have in the NBA. Those players dont stay at school more than 3 years, I want players that I can follow through their career ( Lofton, J. Smith...) I am happy to be a Vol fan, and I look forward to the next at least 6 years of Bruce Pearl dominating the SEC!

HtownVol writes:

My last comment. I know.. UT has been the best team in the SEC since UF last won it all. Since then UT has owned most SEC teams. UK has beat us but we are the only team that they beat.

give_him_6 writes:

in response to DCflorida1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe so, but the GAY-tors are always gonna be our Beyotch!!!

Don't you just hate that, GAY-tor interlopers??? LMAO!!!

HtownVol writes:

in response to give_him_6:

Maybe so, but the GAY-tors are always gonna be our Beyotch!!!

Don't you just hate that, GAY-tor interlopers??? LMAO!!!

We do OWN UF in b-ball. But its comments like that we do not want them saying to us about football. It goes both ways. You can let him know that we own UF in b-ball, but leave out the Bee-Atch. Just saying, trying to keep this war down. We get some un-needed comments on this site. And it is polluting this site.

TommyJack writes:

in response to HtownVol:

We do OWN UF in b-ball. But its comments like that we do not want them saying to us about football. It goes both ways. You can let him know that we own UF in b-ball, but leave out the Bee-Atch. Just saying, trying to keep this war down. We get some un-needed comments on this site. And it is polluting this site.

OR, you could choose not to repond to them at all.

orangegrass writes:

Calamari will continue his ways and schedule weak teams. He whined and complained the four years he had to play Tennessee. Let him bring on his hired guns. BP is two and two against the gangster. The Vols should have won last year but... Now there is a home and home every year and he can't do anything about it. The article is correct to say that the SEC needs to step it up. To have so few teams in the tourney was a disgrace.

missrvrvol writes:

Having to form a club not to respond to the trolls is stupid. Just man up and dont respond...Geez.

missrvrvol writes:

in response to gatorz5:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

University of Fla at Gainesville didn't exactly help out our RPI either

old_number1 writes:

in response to missrvrvol:

Having to form a club not to respond to the trolls is stupid. Just man up and dont respond...Geez.

Miss, have you read any of the threads here in the last two months? After 10 posts, they all turn into pizzing matches started by trolls. Many indivuals have said -just don't respond. Wow, that's really taken care of the trolls, hasn't it. We are not a club that meets once a month for tea! We are simply coming together as group to have strength in numbers to deal with the trolls. I challenge you to go back and look at Gatorzz5 and DCFlorida's posts. After reading them, you want to call the Elite Vol Posters stupid? That is logic turned on it's head!

brokebackvol writes:

Bruce knows what he's doing. Here's hoping Kiffen does, too.

Go4Two writes:

in response to gatorz5:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I would say paying a coach 3.6 mil for back to back NIT trips now that's a disgrace.

voloffaith writes:

in response to gatorz5:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thank you for visiting our VOL site and showing a keen interest in all things VOL!!

On topic,bball will be interesting with all the new blood in the coaches seats this year.

voloffaith writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are we going to have club t-shirts? And just what is the secret handshake going 2b? What if a "TROLL" infiltrates our club? Film at a eleven boys and girls. I like the new spin on trolling. Remenber to thank them for their time(alot) spent on VOL site while they admire VOLS. Evidently they can't admire their own team on it's site or they have been banned from it.

On topic, Coach Pearl is a good bball coach. Now that was an impressive statement almost at TROLL level of intelligence. Goodday gents!

missrvrvol writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Are we going to have club t-shirts? And just what is the secret handshake going 2b? What if a "TROLL" infiltrates our club? Film at a eleven boys and girls. I like the new spin on trolling. Remenber to thank them for their time(alot) spent on VOL site while they admire VOLS. Evidently they can't admire their own team on it's site or they have been banned from it.

On topic, Coach Pearl is a good bball coach. Now that was an impressive statement almost at TROLL level of intelligence. Goodday gents!

Maybe we can build a clubhouse too. Oh by the way look at my previous posts. It is Mississippi River Vol and I am a Vol fan. I just do not need people telling me who I can respond to or not, thats all. Keep it real clubbies!

missrvrvol writes:

in response to Florrible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Would not know. I do not keep up with the Tigers. Might want to ask one of those Tiger trolls on here.

missrvrvol writes:

in response to Florrible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You asked about recruiting. I have not discussed Tiger recruiting with them, but since you are concerned, I will get you an update shortly.

PaulTheVol writes:

For all the Florida fans on the site, I give you a tale of ex-Gay-tor D-backs behaving badly (from SI.com):

Anthone Lott has been charged with defrauding Fred Weary, his ball-hawking mate on Florida's 1996 national championship team, of about $185,000 on a construction project in Gainesville.

missrvrvol writes:

in response to Florrible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UT grad living in Memphis. Season ticket holder in football in X1. I have friends that are Tiger grads and fans and we get together and talk friendly smack, so yes I do keep up with the program. Does not make me a fan. I keep up with Ole Miss and Miss St. due to being in this area, but that does not make me fans for those programs. Your logic is flawed my friend. But keep it real anyway.

Orangeblood13 writes:

get the feck out, lol

Bruce knows whats up, we will be fine for years to come

old_number1 writes:

in response to Florrible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good post Florrible. No name calling, justs facts. Pretty good for a 'Stupid' joiner. LOL

Btw, did you read posts from late last night. Book said something about it. It reminded me of a box full of gators, posting all over each other and lashing out at everything. Funny!

missrvrvol writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are correct fan...I was just commenting on how I thought the elite vol thing was kind of stupid...thats all. I understand from reading some other posts why they are doing it now. Makes sense, I just choose to ignore them

missrvrvol writes:

in response to Florrible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No sweat. Did not mean to hurt your feelings.

Go Vols!

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