Mike Strange: UT men's basketball program now moving into the unknown

Mike Strange
Tennessee's Trae Golden attempts to score as Kentucky's Terrence Jones defends.

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee's Trae Golden attempts to score as Kentucky's Terrence Jones defends.

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Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena was a day for reconnecting.

Allan Houston was bathed in cheers as his No. 20 banner went into the rafters. Wade Houston got a standing ovation of his own.

It was also a day for disconnecting.

To what extent? Well, that’s where it gets tricky.

Tennessee’s 64-58 loss to Kentucky was a disappointing home-court finale for the Vols’ six seniors. It wasn’t, however, an entirely unexpected one. Four of the past five home games have ended on a downer.

In that light, the Vols might be relieved to move on to Atlanta for the SEC tournament. Arkansas on Thursday is the first step toward improving their NCAA tournament stock.

But the guesswork has begun on who might join the seniors’ exodus at season’s end.

Junior Scotty Hopson said Sunday “it didn’t cross my mind’’ that he won’t play in Knoxville again.

We know, however, skipping his senior year to move on to the NBA has crossed his mind. Going 2-of-10 against the Wildcats didn’t help his résumé, but Hopson has played his way into the draft conversation.

Freshman Tobias Harris was UT’s best player Sunday. He might become the program’s first one-and-done.

Or, he might not. Harris’ decision could ultimately hinge on the fate of his coach.

Yes, there’s no guarantee the ball of energy in the orange sports coat will be back on the Tennessee bench next year.

Ever since the September revelation of an NCAA investigation into Bruce Pearl’s program, the university has insisted it wants to keep its coach on board.

Publicly, that hasn’t changed. However, the truth is that we don’t know where the process will take Pearl or the program.

Sunday, for Pearl, was yet another promising day that ended in frustration. There have been too many like that this season.

Before tipoff, he stood proudly with his son Steven for Senior Day ceremonies witnessed by a crowd of 21,678. For the first 20 minutes, he watched his Vols scrap to a 29-22 lead. Perhaps this would be the day the home-court curse was broken.

It was not to be. Kentucky opened the second half with an 18-4 run. Tennessee battled but its offensive deficiencies — and the absence of injured center Brian Williams on the boards — were too much to overcome.

And so, for the fourth consecutive weekend home game, Tennessee came up short in the final minute. This one, though, had a special sting.

“It’s disappointing to get swept by Kentucky,’’ Pearl said. “I do feel it’s a benchmark I should be judged on.

“Obviously, I’ve not done my job in our rivalry with Kentucky.’’

After shaking hands with the coach who swept him, John Calipari, Pearl went into the crowd to shake as many Tennessee hands as he could.

“We’ve got the greatest fans in the country,’’ he said. “The response I got is that they’re still behind us and still believe in us.’’

The crowds have been commendable this season. And Pearl’s players shared his burden of disappointment in not rewarding their loyalty.

“I wish we could go back in time and make a lot of changes,’’ said sophomore Kenny Hall, “but, unfortunately, that’s not the case.

“As a team, we’ve got to move forward and help our fans move along with us.’’

Forward to try to write a positive ending to this season. It could happen yet.

And then forward into an uncertain future with an uncertain cast.

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Comments » 46

Cartersvillevol writes:

Let the trolling begin.

VolunteerLifer writes:

I think the ncaa will come down hard on Pearl, less so on the program. Look for Pearl to get a year suspension, and possibly a show-cause tag on him. I predict we will then keep him as our coach. Harris may leave unless he gets a guarantee that T Jones will coach the team and keep Pearl's basic system in which Harris can be the star. The team will be mediocre or, if Harris leaves, just plain bad.

tulelakevol writes:

still better than Buzz

PHAT_VOL writes:

Its a sad situation for Tennessee basketball anyway you cut it. I guess we are stuck with Pearl he's such a popular guy. And who said winning isn't everything its the only thing? It seems like if you win at U.T. you stay no matter what. So lets see what June brings.
GO VOLS !!

FearlessFreep writes:

If Pearl gets a Show Cause then he's as good as fired. UT cannot keep him on.

dead_vol_foul (Inactive) writes:

We need our backs to the wall to play well.

If we make the NCAA's, lets hope they send us to California.

mhsvol writes:

No concern about Hopson or Harris declaring for the draft - unless they intend to play overseas. Hopson is Yarborough light, and Harris is Ron Slay without a shot. God love him, the young man has a Bob Cousy set shot from behind the arc for cryin' out loud. And, it almost NEVER goes in. But in Hopson's defense, his 'do might be the kind of icon the NBA needs to regain its fan interest.

1vavolfan writes:

Here is where draftexpress has them. This is site that is usually closest to where the players actually fall. Harris moved up 5 spots in the last 2 weeks. I think his defense is too much of a liability. If he can't guard Trey tompkins or Marshawn Powell then not so sure he is ready.Sucks for us that the program is up in the air, if he returns then he may not be playing for CBP. On the other hand from what I hear there is a pretty good chance there won't be an NBA next season. If he goes we are screwed.

http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-mock-...

MrWilson writes:

The University of TN is bigger than Bruce Pearl. Yes he has brought success to the basketball program, but look at the price. We are now mentioned in the same name as all of the other schools that cheat, lie and cover up.

Ethics before wins is what matters. It is time to close the book on Bruce Pearl and Mike Hamilton and more onto a another chapter in the history of UT basketball.

vol75 writes:

I've posted this before. Winners find a way to win. Losers find a way to lose. We are behind you. We just don't see enough to believe in you. But basketball is a tournament game. New season begins. Anything can happen.

eduardo writes:

As a senior how do you not play at least 5 min on senior day and your last home game? The dude was on the bench. He was cheering. Why not play?????

Vol_n_tear writes:

This year was everyone's chance to beat or split with UK and UT missed out. Next year, UK will be the best team in the country with little expected defections (Jones and maybe Knight) but with the addition of Gilchrist, Davis, Teague, Wiljter, and who knows who else. If this team swept UT this year, they will sweep the floor with them next year.

newtonrail writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good players, except Allen, came with Wade, Kevin, Jerry, and Buzz? A few, but no coaches, and I don't trust them in hiring a Pelphrey or Horne here, with commiserate results. Georgia did pick a winning young coach.

volscantball writes:

What is known is that Pearl has coached his way to losing 13 games this year. All the while he was playing the victum. Maybe, just maybe, he will step up to the plate now and take his medicine. No, that would be too much like right.

Pearl coached his last game at TBA. Wake up Vol fans. Welcome back to the age of mediocrity. Oh wait, your men's program never left it.

Vols really can't ball.

Vol_In_Ohio writes:

in response to PHAT_VOL:

Its a sad situation for Tennessee basketball anyway you cut it. I guess we are stuck with Pearl he's such a popular guy. And who said winning isn't everything its the only thing? It seems like if you win at U.T. you stay no matter what. So lets see what June brings.
GO VOLS !!

Jerry Green sure had a high winning percentage.

Vol_In_Ohio writes:

Any chance we don't get a bid if we lose to Arkansas on Thursday? Doesn't seem like it from various announcers, but it will have me worried.

dcap8424 writes:

in response to bigorangegoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Laughing stock of the nation"? I don't think that many people care honestly. You do know the nation contains places outside of East Tennessee right?

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to MrWilson:

The University of TN is bigger than Bruce Pearl. Yes he has brought success to the basketball program, but look at the price. We are now mentioned in the same name as all of the other schools that cheat, lie and cover up.

Ethics before wins is what matters. It is time to close the book on Bruce Pearl and Mike Hamilton and more onto a another chapter in the history of UT basketball.

Another losing chapter of us occasionally making the NIT, being on national TV maybe once a year, not mattering and playing in front of a half empty arena. No thank you, I'll take winning and mattering in the grand scheme of things.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What in the history of this program, makes you think good players will come to UT much less a good coach? Green's success was due to O'Neil's recruiting and a once in a generation crop of in state players (Yarborough, Slay, Hathaway and Black) and people were still frustrated with Green and we still didn't matter, nobody ever considered UT a serious contender until Pearl. Oh, and we have a horrible fanbase, wanting to fire the greatest coach in the history of the program, and when we start losing again, they won't show up to games.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to Vol_In_Ohio:

Jerry Green sure had a high winning percentage.

And we still weren't considered a national program, we were still a joke that happened to win and Green didn't build the program.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to eduardo:

As a senior how do you not play at least 5 min on senior day and your last home game? The dude was on the bench. He was cheering. Why not play?????

Are you talking about Williams? If so, I don't think he was even dressed out. You know his back must have been REALLY bad if he didn't play. I really wish he could have played and I am sure he did, too. The fact that he didn't means the training staff must fear further injury if he did. There is still ball to be played this year. Better he gets as ready as he can for that.

NYvolFan writes:

It's over. 3-5 at Home? What's up with that? Clearly the mess Pearl caused has had an impact, both in his coaching, and with the players. If we lose to Arkansas on Thursday, do we truly deserve an invitation at 18-14? I think NOT! Sounds like an NIT resume to me. Alabama certainly has better numbers (20-10, 12-4). And, they beat us here in Knoxville. It's time to clean house with Pearl and Hamilton and restore some dignity back to the University of Tennessee. How many more national media announcers and outlets do we really need to hear making us the laughing stock of the nation with each game we play?

NYvolFan writes:

We accomplished one decent thing this year. Belmont is the only team in the nation with 30 wins, and the Vols beat them twice. Wooptee-do!

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to NYvolFan:

It's over. 3-5 at Home? What's up with that? Clearly the mess Pearl caused has had an impact, both in his coaching, and with the players. If we lose to Arkansas on Thursday, do we truly deserve an invitation at 18-14? I think NOT! Sounds like an NIT resume to me. Alabama certainly has better numbers (20-10, 12-4). And, they beat us here in Knoxville. It's time to clean house with Pearl and Hamilton and restore some dignity back to the University of Tennessee. How many more national media announcers and outlets do we really need to hear making us the laughing stock of the nation with each game we play?

Clearly you aren't talking about Restoring Dignity to the Men's Basketball team since prior to Pearl we haven't had any since the 70's, and our next hire isn't going to be a good one, so prepare to continue being a laughing stock.

NYvolFan writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Clearly you aren't talking about Restoring Dignity to the Men's Basketball team since prior to Pearl we haven't had any since the 70's, and our next hire isn't going to be a good one, so prepare to continue being a laughing stock.

I understand your point, but we did have dignity under Buzz and Houston and DeVoe. Can't really say that about Green though. Or O'Neil if you sat with your kids in the 1st 30 rows. :-)

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to NYvolFan:

I understand your point, but we did have dignity under Buzz and Houston and DeVoe. Can't really say that about Green though. Or O'Neil if you sat with your kids in the 1st 30 rows. :-)

I didn't know DeVoe's underachieving the outright losing of Buzz or Wade counted as having dignity. Being the bottom feeding jokes of the SEC won't bring us dignity.

NYvolFan writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

I didn't know DeVoe's underachieving the outright losing of Buzz or Wade counted as having dignity. Being the bottom feeding jokes of the SEC won't bring us dignity.

Either will hearing more about Bruce (and the other coaches) lying to the NCAA during a game in which we're winning. Who ever thought that Bruce would become more of a scoundrel nationally than Calipari who's had 2 Final Four's stripped from him.

Jaws2 writes:

Bring back the unicycles!! At least then people were laughing at us for the show, now it's just another circus!

brod writes:

so much gloom and doom about tennessee basketball. i remember all the gloom and doom after tyler smith got kicked off. ut was going to finish the year sub .500 in the sec and not make the tourney. some of you people need to be put on suicide watch.

SFOrange writes:

NCAA's? This team's not Tourney quality.
Likely last of Pearl will be in ATL and NIT.
Go Vols. Good luck.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to brod:

so much gloom and doom about tennessee basketball. i remember all the gloom and doom after tyler smith got kicked off. ut was going to finish the year sub .500 in the sec and not make the tourney. some of you people need to be put on suicide watch.

In case you don't remember the years between Mears and Pearl there is PLENTY of reason not to be optimistic. I really don't want another 30 years of futility.

vut56#231073 writes:

Personal bias aside, several good posts here; seems to me, most say either, "Pearl has been a great coach, rescued a program, winning is more important that ethics, University embarrassment, etc.," or, "This team was birthed, raised and directed by Pearl, who also cheated on it and his employers, and should go. It is more important to be respected as a University than for the ability of it's athletic teams." There is not much room here for an independent party, so, "it is what it is." Appears to me there is not much room to merge these viewpoints, so, as Wayon sang, "Somebody's gonna get hurt before we're through...."

brod writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

In case you don't remember the years between Mears and Pearl there is PLENTY of reason not to be optimistic. I really don't want another 30 years of futility.

i don't want the program to slip either, but it really wasn't 30 years. more like 15. wade houston's last 2, o'neill's 3. buzz's 4. two or 3 of devoe's last few years were bad as well. tennessee must do a better job recruiting in state players and close to state players. so many good players get overlooked just because they don't have enough stars by their name. look at the belmont inside players and where they are from. those guys can post up against anybody, including the guys in the sec.

NYvolFan writes:

in response to vut56#231073:

Personal bias aside, several good posts here; seems to me, most say either, "Pearl has been a great coach, rescued a program, winning is more important that ethics, University embarrassment, etc.," or, "This team was birthed, raised and directed by Pearl, who also cheated on it and his employers, and should go. It is more important to be respected as a University than for the ability of it's athletic teams." There is not much room here for an independent party, so, "it is what it is." Appears to me there is not much room to merge these viewpoints, so, as Wayon sang, "Somebody's gonna get hurt before we're through...."

Exactly...but it still gets down to Pearl just admitting "Oops, I ate some hotdogs and burgers at my house with some recruits already committed to UT". If he did that, none of this would be happening. Instead, he KNEW it was wrong, did it anyway, had his assistants lie, and encouraged others to lie. That is called a "conspiracy". How dumb. That molehill has turned into a Mountain. Like his substitutions this season, he's not the sharpest card in the deck.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to brod:

i don't want the program to slip either, but it really wasn't 30 years. more like 15. wade houston's last 2, o'neill's 3. buzz's 4. two or 3 of devoe's last few years were bad as well. tennessee must do a better job recruiting in state players and close to state players. so many good players get overlooked just because they don't have enough stars by their name. look at the belmont inside players and where they are from. those guys can post up against anybody, including the guys in the sec.

It was 26 1979-2005. Zero impact on a national level, doing nothing in the tournament when we did go and never mattering on a national level. DeVoe never got to the sweet sixteen, Houston, O'Neil and Peterson never went, and Green's appearences were quite embarassing (Illinois St, UNC-Charlotte, Southeast Missouri State plus the Choke job in the Sweet Sixteen against UNC).

Also I don't get why people are on this Belmont kick. . .we beat them two times this year and their schedule was HORRIBLE. They lost to us and Vandy, the only two NCAA tourny teams they even played (ESPN does have MTSU in as a 16 seed, but that doesn't improve the schedule). I'll pass on the Belmont love until they play a better schedule and beat some decent teams.

http://espn.go.com/mens-college-baske...

brod writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

It was 26 1979-2005. Zero impact on a national level, doing nothing in the tournament when we did go and never mattering on a national level. DeVoe never got to the sweet sixteen, Houston, O'Neil and Peterson never went, and Green's appearences were quite embarassing (Illinois St, UNC-Charlotte, Southeast Missouri State plus the Choke job in the Sweet Sixteen against UNC).

Also I don't get why people are on this Belmont kick. . .we beat them two times this year and their schedule was HORRIBLE. They lost to us and Vandy, the only two NCAA tourny teams they even played (ESPN does have MTSU in as a 16 seed, but that doesn't improve the schedule). I'll pass on the Belmont love until they play a better schedule and beat some decent teams.

http://espn.go.com/mens-college-baske...

westknox, as far as that goes mears didn't do anything in the tourney either. ernie and bernie never went past the first round. i do remember almost beating virginia in the tournament when they had ralph sampson in the early 80's and making the tourney regularly. the early to mid 90's were horrible, but the 80's weren't all that bad. i thought that i was the only person who cared about men's basketball around here. i've finally found another. no offense to the lady vols, but i just don't care.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to brod:

westknox, as far as that goes mears didn't do anything in the tourney either. ernie and bernie never went past the first round. i do remember almost beating virginia in the tournament when they had ralph sampson in the early 80's and making the tourney regularly. the early to mid 90's were horrible, but the 80's weren't all that bad. i thought that i was the only person who cared about men's basketball around here. i've finally found another. no offense to the lady vols, but i just don't care.

DeVoe lived the first part of the 80's living off of Mears success but never built off of it, then recruiting fell off dramatically. People remember Green's era more fondly than they do DeVoe's.

NYvolFan writes:

Don DeVoe was a fine UT Coach. Remember, no 3-pointers then, and he played a less-than-exciting defensive game. Yet, he was 204-137, with only 2 losing SEC seasons out of 11. Check it out, not too shabby:

Tennessee Volunteers (Southeastern Conference) (1978–1989)
1978–1979 Tennessee 21–12 12–6 2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1979–1980 Tennessee 18–11 12–6 T–3rd NCAA 2nd Round
1980–1981 Tennessee 21–8 12–6 3rd NCAA Sweet 16
1981–1982 Tennessee 20–10 13–5 T–1st NCAA 2nd Round
1982–1983 Tennessee 20–12 9–9 T–4th NCAA 2nd Round
1983–1984 Tennessee 21–14 9–9 6th NIT 3rd Round
1984–1985 Tennessee 22–15 8–10 T–8th NIT Semifinals/NIT 3rd Place
1985–1986 Tennessee 12–16 5–13 8th
1986–1987 Tennessee 14–15 7–11 T–9th
1987–1988 Tennessee 16–13 9–9 6th NIT 1st Round
1988–1989 Tennessee 19–11 11–7 T–4th NCAA 1st Round
Tennessee: 204–137 107–91

Fire Pearl and bring him back! It was a different game back then! I think he'd adapt well, hell, he won 512 games.

brod writes:

in response to NYvolFan:

Don DeVoe was a fine UT Coach. Remember, no 3-pointers then, and he played a less-than-exciting defensive game. Yet, he was 204-137, with only 2 losing SEC seasons out of 11. Check it out, not too shabby:

Tennessee Volunteers (Southeastern Conference) (1978–1989)
1978–1979 Tennessee 21–12 12–6 2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1979–1980 Tennessee 18–11 12–6 T–3rd NCAA 2nd Round
1980–1981 Tennessee 21–8 12–6 3rd NCAA Sweet 16
1981–1982 Tennessee 20–10 13–5 T–1st NCAA 2nd Round
1982–1983 Tennessee 20–12 9–9 T–4th NCAA 2nd Round
1983–1984 Tennessee 21–14 9–9 6th NIT 3rd Round
1984–1985 Tennessee 22–15 8–10 T–8th NIT Semifinals/NIT 3rd Place
1985–1986 Tennessee 12–16 5–13 8th
1986–1987 Tennessee 14–15 7–11 T–9th
1987–1988 Tennessee 16–13 9–9 6th NIT 1st Round
1988–1989 Tennessee 19–11 11–7 T–4th NCAA 1st Round
Tennessee: 204–137 107–91

Fire Pearl and bring him back! It was a different game back then! I think he'd adapt well, hell, he won 512 games.

devoe was not a great coach. he had off court issues as well. i believe that he went through a divorce and that took it's toll on him. if you look at those dates you'll notice the decline in men's basketball happened to be about the same time as the rise of the football team and the beginning of the women's team national championships. the early 90's were awful, miserable times. the buzz years were bad, but nowhere near that bad.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to NYvolFan:

Don DeVoe was a fine UT Coach. Remember, no 3-pointers then, and he played a less-than-exciting defensive game. Yet, he was 204-137, with only 2 losing SEC seasons out of 11. Check it out, not too shabby:

Tennessee Volunteers (Southeastern Conference) (1978–1989)
1978–1979 Tennessee 21–12 12–6 2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1979–1980 Tennessee 18–11 12–6 T–3rd NCAA 2nd Round
1980–1981 Tennessee 21–8 12–6 3rd NCAA Sweet 16
1981–1982 Tennessee 20–10 13–5 T–1st NCAA 2nd Round
1982–1983 Tennessee 20–12 9–9 T–4th NCAA 2nd Round
1983–1984 Tennessee 21–14 9–9 6th NIT 3rd Round
1984–1985 Tennessee 22–15 8–10 T–8th NIT Semifinals/NIT 3rd Place
1985–1986 Tennessee 12–16 5–13 8th
1986–1987 Tennessee 14–15 7–11 T–9th
1987–1988 Tennessee 16–13 9–9 6th NIT 1st Round
1988–1989 Tennessee 19–11 11–7 T–4th NCAA 1st Round
Tennessee: 204–137 107–91

Fire Pearl and bring him back! It was a different game back then! I think he'd adapt well, hell, he won 512 games.

Once Ray Mears Legacy and Dale Ellis left he was exposed for what he was. He didn't have any sustained success elsewhere when he left here and nationally we still didn't matter, plus five straight years of not making the tournament should have gotten him fired way before 1989.

NYvolFan writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Once Ray Mears Legacy and Dale Ellis left he was exposed for what he was. He didn't have any sustained success elsewhere when he left here and nationally we still didn't matter, plus five straight years of not making the tournament should have gotten him fired way before 1989.

Well, he sure never made a total mockery of the University of Tennessee like Bruce Pearl has.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to NYvolFan:

Well, he sure never made a total mockery of the University of Tennessee like Bruce Pearl has.

It's hard to make a mockery of a team nobody cares about in the first place.

NYvolFan writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

It's hard to make a mockery of a team nobody cares about in the first place.

Well WestKnoxRepub, at least it appears we vote the same politically. What do you think we should do with Bruce Pearl, and Hamilton?

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to NYvolFan:

Well WestKnoxRepub, at least it appears we vote the same politically. What do you think we should do with Bruce Pearl, and Hamilton?

Keep Pearl until you have to fire him. No coach is going to want to follow the greatest coach in the history of a program who was fired after making the tournament, then be told you have to play on a floor bearing the name of the Women's Basketball coach. I don't have a problem with Hamilton, so keep him too. If he goes they'll replace him with a football guy, putting the last nail in the coffin of Men's Basketball for at least another 26 years.

Kybasser writes:

Hey Folks.. guys and gals... you all know me, I hope. I have always tried to post with integrity and show the same respect I would ask you to show on a UK board... but come on... I LOVE Coach Pearl. I tried hard to lobby for him at UK when Coach Smith left. Coach Pearl did a fantastic job at USI, UWGB-? was that the small school? Still, he messed up big time. He lied, he had assistants lie, he said he didn't recognize the wife of one of his long time assistants, the tried to blackmail a recruit's dad into lying.. the recruit I think went to Purdue?? Not sure... but many of you sound worse than the trolls that pretend to be UK fans on our boards... wanting Coach smith or pitino back. Listen, Dez Bryant did the same thing Coach Pearl did, and was banned from college. I really, really hope that doesn't happen to Coach Pearl. BTW, you are not the laughing stock of the nation. True, there are problems to be faced.... but you want to be laughed at? get a coach who has money fall out of an envelope, though I still find it suspect considering I can barely open those fedex envelopes when I am trying, and try a coach that runs the players till their feet bleed, or he has a player stay in the toliet stall during the halftime and then ride home on the equipment buss instead of with the team!!!! I don't deny there will be punishment, I don't deny punishment is due, but I do hope Coach Pearl makes it to stay. I think maybe his ego got a little bigger than his pants is all. You'd think as a UK fan I would want him gone, but I like rivalries to be good and to be a good rivalry, both teams have to be good. I certainly hope UK will stay good, so I too hope UT stays good...well not too good *grin* If Coach Pearl learns from this, stays humble, and I hope he does, I hope he will continue bringing really good teams to the games. See you all in Atl. and good luck... may the best team win.. and I hope it isn't UF!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Kybasser:

Hey Folks.. guys and gals... you all know me, I hope. I have always tried to post with integrity and show the same respect I would ask you to show on a UK board... but come on... I LOVE Coach Pearl. I tried hard to lobby for him at UK when Coach Smith left. Coach Pearl did a fantastic job at USI, UWGB-? was that the small school? Still, he messed up big time. He lied, he had assistants lie, he said he didn't recognize the wife of one of his long time assistants, the tried to blackmail a recruit's dad into lying.. the recruit I think went to Purdue?? Not sure... but many of you sound worse than the trolls that pretend to be UK fans on our boards... wanting Coach smith or pitino back. Listen, Dez Bryant did the same thing Coach Pearl did, and was banned from college. I really, really hope that doesn't happen to Coach Pearl. BTW, you are not the laughing stock of the nation. True, there are problems to be faced.... but you want to be laughed at? get a coach who has money fall out of an envelope, though I still find it suspect considering I can barely open those fedex envelopes when I am trying, and try a coach that runs the players till their feet bleed, or he has a player stay in the toliet stall during the halftime and then ride home on the equipment buss instead of with the team!!!! I don't deny there will be punishment, I don't deny punishment is due, but I do hope Coach Pearl makes it to stay. I think maybe his ego got a little bigger than his pants is all. You'd think as a UK fan I would want him gone, but I like rivalries to be good and to be a good rivalry, both teams have to be good. I certainly hope UK will stay good, so I too hope UT stays good...well not too good *grin* If Coach Pearl learns from this, stays humble, and I hope he does, I hope he will continue bringing really good teams to the games. See you all in Atl. and good luck... may the best team win.. and I hope it isn't UF!!!

Very classy post, Kybasser. I've been on this board for awhile now and I don't recognize your screen name, but feel free to come back any time if this is a typical contribution.

I think most of us Vol fans are a bit conflicted about Pearl just now. On the one hand, we appreciate the way he got UT back to a high level on the court and the way he has contributed to the life of the university and the community. On the other, we are VERY disappointed with him over how he handled what SHOULD have been a minor secondary violation. Maybe the internal team dynamics have suffered from the fallout over the NCAA investigation, which is why many of us feel the team has under-achieved this season.

Since the severity of the all-but-inevitable NCAA sanctions is unknown, we don't know whether we would be better off to keep him or let him go and start over with someone new. The uncertainty of the situation has already taken a toll on our recruiting, and again, we don't know which course is best for getting us back on track.

I don't see any way forward that doesn't leave us in the middle of the pack at best for the next two or three years. I surely WISH the Vols had been just a bit more competitive with the 'Cats in the last few years, because I'm afraid we WON'T be very competitive for the NEXT few.

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