Mike Strange: Are the Vols losing their basketball stepping stones?

Mike Strange
Tennessee forward Kenny Hall (20) is helped up by teammates Skylar McBee, Josh Richardson, Jarnell stokes and Jordan McRae, left to right, after he was fouled by Georgia during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Georgia won 68-62 over Tennessee. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee forward Kenny Hall (20) is helped up by teammates Skylar McBee, Josh Richardson, Jarnell stokes and Jordan McRae, left to right, after he was fouled by Georgia during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Georgia won 68-62 over Tennessee. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

As Tennessee's men rose to SEC basketball prominence in the past decade, a couple of dependable stepping stones gave the Vols a leg up.

This week, those stepping stones help provide an updated state of the Vol union.

From the 2004-05 season until 2008-09, Tennessee beat Georgia 10 consecutive times. Knoxville or Athens, didn't matter. Chalk up a "W."

Then Georgia hired Mark Fox to replace Dennis Felton. Poor Felton. If Chris Lofton had played at Gonzaga instead of UT, Felton might be coaching the Bulldogs yet. Lofton burned a bunch of opponents, but he was absolutely brutal on Georgia.

Fox, from Tennessee's perspective, has upgraded Georgia into a former stepping stone. Georgia's 68-62 win at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday gives Fox a 4-3 record against UT.

In other words, the days of chalking up an automatic 'W' are over.

Sunday, the Vols visit South Carolina, a program that, until further notice, remains in the steppingstone category.

Tennessee has beaten the Gamecocks 11 times in a row. In the 2007-08 season, the SEC-champion Vols sent coach Dave Odom into retirement with a regular-season sweep and an SEC tournament ouster.

Darrin Horn, Odom's replacement, never beat UT in eight tries. Exit Horn.

There's a new sheriff in Columbia. And I, for one, won't be surprised to see him do for the Gamecocks what Fox has done for the Bulldogs.

Frank Martin was, by all accounts, a home-run hire for South Carolina. In five years at Kansas State, he never won fewer than 21 games.

Four of those years included NCAA tournament bids and K-State advanced to the second round every time. In 2010, the year the Vols played in the Elite Eight, so did Kansas State. The Wildcats were denied a trip to the Final Four by Butler.

Martin's debut at Carolina hasn't been an overnight sensation. The Gamecocks are 2-7 in league play, helping Vanderbilt and Mississippi State prop up the SEC standings.

Martin, though, didn't inherit much. Three of last year's top four scorers departed. And Horn didn't have much better success recruiting than he did beating Tennessee.

If the Vols are to break through and get their first road win of the season, Sunday would be the day to do it.

Should Tennessee come up short, the upshot is that South Carolina is removed from the stepping-stone category sooner rather than later.

Eventually Martin will get better players at South Carolina. His track record suggests he will win. If he could do it at Kansas State in the shadow of the mighty Kansas juggernaut up the road, he should be able to do it at South Carolina.

So the onus is on Tennessee and coach Cuonzo Martin.

If the Vols are going to be a viable force in the SEC — and thus a regular NCAA tournament participant — they can hardly afford to lose ground to the likes of Georgia and South Carolina.

UT is 1-9 in its past 10 tries against Kentucky. The mysterious mastery over Florida isn't likely to hold. Vandy is a give-and-take series.

There is no more SEC East. It's all one sprawling 14-team grouping. Going forward, maybe Texas A&M will matter just as much as the Gamecocks.

Still, South Carolina has been a safe port in the storm for UT. In time, Martin will make it less safe.

Does that time start Sunday?

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 62

jt45 writes:

I hope not, but its getting harder to watch this group with each passing loss. Even when their ahead it always feels like they are in desperation mode. Not very optimistic right now on the state of the mens program and its a shame
that things have turned out this way after BP turned the program around. Maybe next year !

eduardo writes:

No hope w this team!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

UT is now the stepping stone..BBB!!

willtowin writes:

Bring back Bruce

GreerVol22 writes:

nope..looks like plain old losing to me.

redskinvol1 writes:

Bruce is and always will be the man!The name of TBA should be changed to the Pearl Pavilion.Bring back the fun of winning.Bring back Bruce!

1vavolfan writes:

I understand that UT is without Maymon and Golden but to lose at home to Georgia is unacceptable and losing to USC is a high probability tomorrow. I remember playing #1 Kansas a few years ago without 4 key players including the best player on the team;Tyler Smith. The difference in that UT team and this UT team is the coach. Martin has no personality or fire and these players have quit on him, they never did this to Pearl.

CoverOrange writes:

"Still, South Carolina has been a safe port in the storm for UT. In time, Martin will make it less safe."

When I first read this I wasn't sure which Martin that Mike was referring to.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

I understand that UT is without Maymon and Golden but to lose at home to Georgia is unacceptable and losing to USC is a high probability tomorrow. I remember playing #1 Kansas a few years ago without 4 key players including the best player on the team;Tyler Smith. The difference in that UT team and this UT team is the coach. Martin has no personality or fire and these players have quit on him, they never did this to Pearl.

They quit on Pearl. Right after the Pitt game in his last season.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

They quit on Pearl. Right after the Pitt game in his last season.

That team was still good enough to get to the NCAA tourney that year, which it hasn't done with Martin. The team did not quit on Pearl it was distracted by all of the controversy. It was amazing to me that CBP could accomplish anything with all of the chaos around the program at the time. Tournament time was a given with CBP, I would always schedule my days off months in advance so I would be able to watch on TV or attend in person. This is Buzzball 2.0 with no tournament hopes in sight.

jt45 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

They quit on Pearl. Right after the Pitt game in his last season.

Yes it was bad the way he was served up like a sacrifice his last season. When I look at what some of these other coaches have done and still their schools stand by them it makes me wonder if Karma is at work here.

VolFanHoping writes:

So, SC needed a football coach and hired one that had won championships; Hammy hired Dooley. They needed a bball coach and did the same. Hammy hired Martin. Hmmm....

budd#207344 writes:

CCM has coached this team for a year and a half. Last year UT was picked to finish 11th they finished 2nd in the SEC. He has recruited two great players in Stokes and Hobbs and has seen Reese and Moore get better. McRae and Richardson have improved as well. He has been without 20% of the team since the beginning but no one knew if it would last all year. Then he loses Golden to injury so now he is playing w/o 40% of his starting lineup. And the rest of the SEC is having problems as well even the mighty Cats. Do you think they are calling for a change in KY? Of course not, they understand the game. UT fans need to chill and give the staff the opportunity to get their starters back and let the young team continue to mature

DRORANGELOVE writes:

Remember how ESPN crucified Bruce Pearl and kept his "sin of lying to the almighty NCAA" constantly on their broadcasts until he was eventually fired?????
How come you haven't heard anything about Coach Geno at UCONN sexually harrassing and propositioning that young female member of the USA Womens basketball team security staff back in April and then getting her fired when she reported him to the authorities. Haven't heard anymore about that have you???? Its been swept under the rug and completely forgotten. Don't tell me the ESPN isn't biased against some schools and plays favoritism with others.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

I know this is the Vols' site, but if someone saw the Notre Dame and Louisville game, what are your thoughts?

5 overtimes.......and of course the Irish eked it out 104-101.

People were fouling out for both teams.....but the whole Notre Dame team could have fouled out if truth be known. No need to get into the details on that.........

But, did this have to even go 5 overtimes?
Another classic example of someone roilling the dice ( Pitino for Louisville ) with a 3 point lead in regulation, allowing Notre Dame to take the 3 with 6 seconds to go..........and yes, they hit it to start the parade of overtimes.

Have any of you seen a game where the coach did foul thus forcing the trailing team to get 3 points off 2 free throws????????

IMO, another game lost by allowing that shot to be taken.

TK writes:

The reason this team is so hard to watch is they are predictable. Other coaches now know what Martin is going to do. When is the last time you saw UT press? This team would be very good at pressing. You never knew what Pearl was going to do. He had special things he did on inbounds plays. Think of all the turnovers and easy points that UT got under Pearl on inbounds plays. Plus he would press someone anytime. Coach Martin needs to change some things up at times. I think this is why this team plays with very little fire. They know other coaches have their number.

claiborneh writes:

in response to budd#207344:

CCM has coached this team for a year and a half. Last year UT was picked to finish 11th they finished 2nd in the SEC. He has recruited two great players in Stokes and Hobbs and has seen Reese and Moore get better. McRae and Richardson have improved as well. He has been without 20% of the team since the beginning but no one knew if it would last all year. Then he loses Golden to injury so now he is playing w/o 40% of his starting lineup. And the rest of the SEC is having problems as well even the mighty Cats. Do you think they are calling for a change in KY? Of course not, they understand the game. UT fans need to chill and give the staff the opportunity to get their starters back and let the young team continue to mature

Wrong.

SevenT writes:

The Pearl years didn't count due to cheating. Obviously they cheated the entire time it got so bad the NCAA had to step in and force Pearl out.

bigdisbig writes:

Tennessee is the stepping stone in every sport except Lady Vol basketball and its sinking fast it seems thanks to current administration management. People, get used to losing in every sport or stop going to the games. Money and attendance speak volumes. Until Cheeks and Hart are gone the disease of losing will continue.

Katphan29 writes:

I have always said a strong UT makes the SEC better. I remember the years of no matter how good UK was, they would often come to Knoxville and lose. I didn't like it - don't like it - but it makes for a stronger SEC, and prepares our teams come tourney time.

Personally, I think the jury is still out on your coach, and its premature in abandoning him. The key is going to be how well he recruits. I think he can restore UT if he recruits well. If he doesn't, he is limited in what he has to work with and UT will probably remain in the middle of the pack.

manoffewwords writes:

Simple solution . BBB Now!

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to SevenT:

The Pearl years didn't count due to cheating. Obviously they cheated the entire time it got so bad the NCAA had to step in and force Pearl out.

Lying about a barbecue is doing something wrong but its not cheating

FeelVol writes:

in response to budd#207344:

CCM has coached this team for a year and a half. Last year UT was picked to finish 11th they finished 2nd in the SEC. He has recruited two great players in Stokes and Hobbs and has seen Reese and Moore get better. McRae and Richardson have improved as well. He has been without 20% of the team since the beginning but no one knew if it would last all year. Then he loses Golden to injury so now he is playing w/o 40% of his starting lineup. And the rest of the SEC is having problems as well even the mighty Cats. Do you think they are calling for a change in KY? Of course not, they understand the game. UT fans need to chill and give the staff the opportunity to get their starters back and let the young team continue to mature

My thoughts exactly Budd,good post.

chipmurphy461 writes:

It's not premature to abandon Cuonzo Martin for Bruce Pearl. We already know what Bruce can do at UT and in the SEC. Bruce made UT's basketball team relevant after numerous coaches failed to do so. I'll take what Bruce can do over the uncertainty of Martin! Bring back Bruce before someone else hires him and we're stuck with another 20 years of UT men's basketball being irrelevant.

AclockworkOrange writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

Bruce is and always will be the man!The name of TBA should be changed to the Pearl Pavilion.Bring back the fun of winning.Bring back Bruce!

Seriously, and bring back the NCAA sanctions and his lack of integrity also.

AclockworkOrange writes:

in response to DRORANGELOVE:

Remember how ESPN crucified Bruce Pearl and kept his "sin of lying to the almighty NCAA" constantly on their broadcasts until he was eventually fired?????
How come you haven't heard anything about Coach Geno at UCONN sexually harrassing and propositioning that young female member of the USA Womens basketball team security staff back in April and then getting her fired when she reported him to the authorities. Haven't heard anymore about that have you???? Its been swept under the rug and completely forgotten. Don't tell me the ESPN isn't biased against some schools and plays favoritism with others.

If ESPN was out to tarnish Pearl, then why has he been hired by them as an analyst? I hate seeing his smiling face on game days after all the lying he did while coaching UT. You can say all you want about so and so at another school doing something worse, but in then end Pearl did what he did and has had a history of wrong doing.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to budd#207344:

CCM has coached this team for a year and a half. Last year UT was picked to finish 11th they finished 2nd in the SEC. He has recruited two great players in Stokes and Hobbs and has seen Reese and Moore get better. McRae and Richardson have improved as well. He has been without 20% of the team since the beginning but no one knew if it would last all year. Then he loses Golden to injury so now he is playing w/o 40% of his starting lineup. And the rest of the SEC is having problems as well even the mighty Cats. Do you think they are calling for a change in KY? Of course not, they understand the game. UT fans need to chill and give the staff the opportunity to get their starters back and let the young team continue to mature

Silly comparison. No way you can compare UK's coach and ours. Like it or not they went out and spent the money and got one of the best coaches in the game. We went bargain basement and got a guy whose crowning achievement was an NIT birth. Cal get's 5 star players while we get 2-3 stars and the you kool-aid drinkers think we can coach them up and be like Butler. This guy can't coach, can't motivate, and can't recruit. After next year all of Pearl's players will be gone and UT will be the stepping stone in the SEC until Martin is gone.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

That team was still good enough to get to the NCAA tourney that year, which it hasn't done with Martin. The team did not quit on Pearl it was distracted by all of the controversy. It was amazing to me that CBP could accomplish anything with all of the chaos around the program at the time. Tournament time was a given with CBP, I would always schedule my days off months in advance so I would be able to watch on TV or attend in person. This is Buzzball 2.0 with no tournament hopes in sight.

True, and you saw how they performed in that NCAA game. They wanted the season to end, no heart and/or no leadership. I really think BP stopped coaching when the writing was put on the wall that December.

I agree, Buzzball, they don't even play defense as well as ONeill's teams did. However, I do think CCM is a victim of his late season success last year - higher expectations. Maybe CCM will improve when he has more of his own players, but you have to wonder why he can't mold a team from what he has rather than what he wants.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to DRORANGELOVE:

Remember how ESPN crucified Bruce Pearl and kept his "sin of lying to the almighty NCAA" constantly on their broadcasts until he was eventually fired?????
How come you haven't heard anything about Coach Geno at UCONN sexually harrassing and propositioning that young female member of the USA Womens basketball team security staff back in April and then getting her fired when she reported him to the authorities. Haven't heard anymore about that have you???? Its been swept under the rug and completely forgotten. Don't tell me the ESPN isn't biased against some schools and plays favoritism with others.

People who only know about Bruce Pearl from his time at UT may not be aware of the full story of his difficulties with elements of the basketball hierarchy.

It went back to his days as an assistant at Iowa. His boss and mentor, Dr. Tom Davis, suspected that Illinois was offering illegal inducements to build their program. On his own initiative, Pearl made several phone calls to Deon Thomas, a player both Iowa and Illinois were recruiting, to try to get him to admit that Illinois was offering him extra benefits to attend Illinois. He taped these conversations without Thomas' knowledge. The subsequent details are somewhat murky to me, but the upshot was that after all this became public, no proof was found of Iowa's allegations but a couple of Illinois assistants were given show-cause orders and essentially banned from coaching, various lawsuits were at least initiated, and Pearl himself was largely a pariah in major-college basketball.

That was why he had to go to Southern Indiana for his first head coaching job, a school about on a par with Tusculum in Tennessee. He slowly worked his way back up in the coaching profession, but a lot of people with strong connections to the basketball powers-that-be will never forgive him for violating the unwritten code of using illegal/unethical means to catch another program cheating. Some of those people have influence with the NCAA to this day.

That is one reason why so many jumped on what should have been a minor infraction at UT in such a big way. I know all this sounds incredibly unfair--or not--but it is something that would give pause in hiring Pearl to any prospective employer who knows how the NCAA or any other large, powerful, unaccountable organization actually works. As much as I like Pearl, I think UT would be opening a particularly messy can of worms with a group of people who we really can't afford to antagonize by trying to rehire him.

Bias? You bet. Favoritism? For sure. By ESPN? Perhaps; they have a symbiotic relationship with the NCAA, but they also employ Pearl as a studio analyst for college basketball. Might I be wrong about the consequences of UT rehiring Pearl? Absolutely. Is this therefore a risk UT could afford to take? Not my call. I'm just trying to give a little context to what might seem to some to be an inexplicable antagonism toward Pearl and UT by some powerful elements of the college basketball establishment. What the average fans don't know CAN hurt them and the program they pull for if they don't recognize all these and similar implications in pulling for Pearl's reinstatement at UT.

CoverOrange writes:

And to all the BBB's out there, someone high in administration wanted him gone. They will not let him come back.

CoverOrange writes:

Hey Johnlg, well stated. Throw in that Pearl was not driven by some moral code for trying to catch Illinois in illegalities, he was known for infractions himself. The juniors attending house parties infraction was not first committed at Pearl's Knoxville home. But the animosity toward Pearl can be likened to the animosity Bama fans have toward Fulmer. That Fulmer sqealed to the NCAA about Bama when they no for sure he was not squeeky clean himself. No proof of course.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

I know this is the Vols' site, but if someone saw the Notre Dame and Louisville game, what are your thoughts?

5 overtimes.......and of course the Irish eked it out 104-101.

People were fouling out for both teams.....but the whole Notre Dame team could have fouled out if truth be known. No need to get into the details on that.........

But, did this have to even go 5 overtimes?
Another classic example of someone roilling the dice ( Pitino for Louisville ) with a 3 point lead in regulation, allowing Notre Dame to take the 3 with 6 seconds to go..........and yes, they hit it to start the parade of overtimes.

Have any of you seen a game where the coach did foul thus forcing the trailing team to get 3 points off 2 free throws????????

IMO, another game lost by allowing that shot to be taken.

I switched away from that game for the local news when Louisville was up EIGHT with 47 seconds to go. I was amazed when I saw this morning how it came out. The total day's action saw countless inexplicable decisions by some of the game's best-known coaches. The theme of sloppy, overly-physical basketball was constantly repeated throughout the day. As I have said, I am no happier lately about the way UT's season has unfolded than anybody else, but fans just have to realize that it is NOT just UT where these things are happening, so there is still reason to think that things can still improve under Martin. As I said in a previous post, just a LITTLE improvement in a couple of areas could make a LOT of positive difference in the team's record. I don't think the NCAA is an reasonable goal at this point this year, but a deep run is indeed possible NEXT year. If we are still having this conversation then, it might be necessary to let Martin go. In the meantime, all the moaning, carping, and complaining is doing nobody any good. If you don't want to watch, fine, nobody can make you. Martin is going nowhere until at least the end of next season, so all you trolls and negaVols are doing is trying to make everybody miserable for no good reason.

Smokey91 writes:

I think it is obvious what is wrong with this team. Bruce Pearl had a chance to win every game he played, even when he went on the court with a less talented team. Coach Martin chance of winning any game seems low. There is no way this team should be playing this poorly. They just don't seem to know what to do at times. I don't think UT can afford to have Zooley ball much longer.

AclockworkOrange writes:

in response to johnlg00:

People who only know about Bruce Pearl from his time at UT may not be aware of the full story of his difficulties with elements of the basketball hierarchy.

It went back to his days as an assistant at Iowa. His boss and mentor, Dr. Tom Davis, suspected that Illinois was offering illegal inducements to build their program. On his own initiative, Pearl made several phone calls to Deon Thomas, a player both Iowa and Illinois were recruiting, to try to get him to admit that Illinois was offering him extra benefits to attend Illinois. He taped these conversations without Thomas' knowledge. The subsequent details are somewhat murky to me, but the upshot was that after all this became public, no proof was found of Iowa's allegations but a couple of Illinois assistants were given show-cause orders and essentially banned from coaching, various lawsuits were at least initiated, and Pearl himself was largely a pariah in major-college basketball.

That was why he had to go to Southern Indiana for his first head coaching job, a school about on a par with Tusculum in Tennessee. He slowly worked his way back up in the coaching profession, but a lot of people with strong connections to the basketball powers-that-be will never forgive him for violating the unwritten code of using illegal/unethical means to catch another program cheating. Some of those people have influence with the NCAA to this day.

That is one reason why so many jumped on what should have been a minor infraction at UT in such a big way. I know all this sounds incredibly unfair--or not--but it is something that would give pause in hiring Pearl to any prospective employer who knows how the NCAA or any other large, powerful, unaccountable organization actually works. As much as I like Pearl, I think UT would be opening a particularly messy can of worms with a group of people who we really can't afford to antagonize by trying to rehire him.

Bias? You bet. Favoritism? For sure. By ESPN? Perhaps; they have a symbiotic relationship with the NCAA, but they also employ Pearl as a studio analyst for college basketball. Might I be wrong about the consequences of UT rehiring Pearl? Absolutely. Is this therefore a risk UT could afford to take? Not my call. I'm just trying to give a little context to what might seem to some to be an inexplicable antagonism toward Pearl and UT by some powerful elements of the college basketball establishment. What the average fans don't know CAN hurt them and the program they pull for if they don't recognize all these and similar implications in pulling for Pearl's reinstatement at UT.

Great post on the history of Pearl. Some UT fans have short memories or no memory at all of his past. Do u know if he had any violations while at Mill-Wisc?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Hey Johnlg, well stated. Throw in that Pearl was not driven by some moral code for trying to catch Illinois in illegalities, he was known for infractions himself. The juniors attending house parties infraction was not first committed at Pearl's Knoxville home. But the animosity toward Pearl can be likened to the animosity Bama fans have toward Fulmer. That Fulmer sqealed to the NCAA about Bama when they no for sure he was not squeeky clean himself. No proof of course.

I don't recall that Pearl was ever publicly accused of anything besides the Iowa-Illinois thing that could be considered a "major" violation, except for the lying about the cookout of course. It's just that this incident almost ensured that any "secondary" violations he might commit would get extra scrutiny. Get called on enough of these and you are on the threshold of accusations of "lack of institutional control", which is a large step toward drastic penalties indeed.

redskinvol1 writes:

Bring back Bruce!!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I don't recall that Pearl was ever publicly accused of anything besides the Iowa-Illinois thing that could be considered a "major" violation, except for the lying about the cookout of course. It's just that this incident almost ensured that any "secondary" violations he might commit would get extra scrutiny. Get called on enough of these and you are on the threshold of accusations of "lack of institutional control", which is a large step toward drastic penalties indeed.

The NCAA looked into allegations that he had allowed junior recruits visit his house when he had a graduation or some other type party for his daughter. I believe this was when he was at Wisconsin-GB. It may explain why BP decided to lie about the cookout because the NCAA cracks down on repeated offenses even if innocuous. I could be wrong, just reading stuff on the internet.

TheFuj writes:

Vols on TV versus SC. Living in SC, I almost hate it when we play SC, and have to take the comments about--what happened to your sports teams. Not that SC is that good in basketball, but their football is now top 10 and their baseball is one of the best if not the best.
I remember looking forward to the basketball Vols being on TV with overachieving Lofton drilling 3's.
Now, I can barely watch the turnover laced game, with Martin just standing there drinking water looking confused.
But, will watch as that what us Vol fans do--and pray.

jt45 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

And to all the BBB's out there, someone high in administration wanted him gone. They will not let him come back.

You know nobody expects Bruce to ever be rehired and quite frankly people are just wishing winning basketball would return and maybe the excitement that his style coaching had. Its really disappointing to see knowledgeable posters digging up dirt on Bruce pearl after he did a good job at UT. Mistakes were made but this theory that he should have been hung out to dry based on his past mistakes is just wrong.He did a good job here and thats all we could have ask for.

Most of the time (not always) when you do good job for an employer for a few years and make a mistake you are given a second chance, not pushed overboard and fed to the sharks the way Bruce was by the administration.

Karma has a way of serving up its own justice but it sure feels like we got caught in the crossfire sometimes.

jandjhome#228397 writes:

Two words say it all, tallent and motivation. Martin cannot motivate and hen does not have much to work with.

1vavolfan writes:

in response to jt45:

You know nobody expects Bruce to ever be rehired and quite frankly people are just wishing winning basketball would return and maybe the excitement that his style coaching had. Its really disappointing to see knowledgeable posters digging up dirt on Bruce pearl after he did a good job at UT. Mistakes were made but this theory that he should have been hung out to dry based on his past mistakes is just wrong.He did a good job here and thats all we could have ask for.

Most of the time (not always) when you do good job for an employer for a few years and make a mistake you are given a second chance, not pushed overboard and fed to the sharks the way Bruce was by the administration.

Karma has a way of serving up its own justice but it sure feels like we got caught in the crossfire sometimes.

Good post. It may be 100 years before UT has the success that it did under Pearl. Not only did Pearl win and make the tournament every year but UT was his destination job. HE could have went anywhere and could have been coaching at Memphis or Kentucky but he wanted to be at UT. For most coaches UT would be a stop over to a bigger job but not with Pearl.

orangecountyvols writes:

John,

As usual, well thought out and illustrated comments. Wish we had more positive and knowledgeable individuals on this site.

At the end of this day, we'll all be checking back to see how the Vols did. I am hearing Golden will have been back so hopefully he will be able to help.

Still, nothing surprises most of us to this point. They may just surprise us and play a decent game. On the other hand........who knows?

Then, we have the girls game also. We might win em' both today ! Hope so.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to jt45:

You know nobody expects Bruce to ever be rehired and quite frankly people are just wishing winning basketball would return and maybe the excitement that his style coaching had. Its really disappointing to see knowledgeable posters digging up dirt on Bruce pearl after he did a good job at UT. Mistakes were made but this theory that he should have been hung out to dry based on his past mistakes is just wrong.He did a good job here and thats all we could have ask for.

Most of the time (not always) when you do good job for an employer for a few years and make a mistake you are given a second chance, not pushed overboard and fed to the sharks the way Bruce was by the administration.

Karma has a way of serving up its own justice but it sure feels like we got caught in the crossfire sometimes.

Exactly..Has anyone ever sold UT athletics like Pearl did?? The man pumped energy into TBA that hasn't been seen since Ernie&Bernie were lighting up SAC..

budd#207344 writes:

in response to 1vavolfan:

Silly comparison. No way you can compare UK's coach and ours. Like it or not they went out and spent the money and got one of the best coaches in the game. We went bargain basement and got a guy whose crowning achievement was an NIT birth. Cal get's 5 star players while we get 2-3 stars and the you kool-aid drinkers think we can coach them up and be like Butler. This guy can't coach, can't motivate, and can't recruit. After next year all of Pearl's players will be gone and UT will be the stepping stone in the SEC until Martin is gone.

I was not comparing UK and UT. I said everyone in the league was having issues. Pearl was in the same conference level as Martin when hired. We have two five stars (Stokes & Hobbs). How many other SEC teams have 2 five stars? KY, who else? His recruiting and coaching has resulted in solid players who show improvement (Reese, Moore, Richardson, McCrae)He is just not the promoter that Pearl was. He did a solid job last year of finishing 2nd in the league.He is w/o between 20 and 40% of his starters game for game. Nobody including Pearl could win consistently with that. I'm not a kool-aid drinker. I just know you can't judge a coach on a season and a half.

smokeygrowl writes:

yes martin will make it less safe, ZO MARTIN NOT FRANK AND VOLS ARE A STEPPING STONE.

iowavol writes:

in response to AclockworkOrange:

Great post on the history of Pearl. Some UT fans have short memories or no memory at all of his past. Do u know if he had any violations while at Mill-Wisc?

I think Johnlgo's post is somewhat accurate but not entirely. Pearl had Dr Tom's backing all the way and he had the respect of many of his colleagues. The animosity IL has for him is similar to the animosity most Bama fans have for Fulmer. While their methods for uncovering the wrong doing are questionable, the wrongdoing sill occurred.

Pearl was a hot commodity when UT found him. UWM loved him and all he did was take a small school that plays third fiddle to UW Madison and Marquette to the tournament on a regular basis. When Pearl was at UT, he was mentioned for bigger basketball jobs every year. Bottom line, while there was a contingent of Pearl non-supporters, most in the basketball saw Pearl for what he is - a very good coach and good ambassador of the game.

SevenT writes:

in response to johnlg00:

People who only know about Bruce Pearl from his time at UT may not be aware of the full story of his difficulties with elements of the basketball hierarchy.

It went back to his days as an assistant at Iowa. His boss and mentor, Dr. Tom Davis, suspected that Illinois was offering illegal inducements to build their program. On his own initiative, Pearl made several phone calls to Deon Thomas, a player both Iowa and Illinois were recruiting, to try to get him to admit that Illinois was offering him extra benefits to attend Illinois. He taped these conversations without Thomas' knowledge. The subsequent details are somewhat murky to me, but the upshot was that after all this became public, no proof was found of Iowa's allegations but a couple of Illinois assistants were given show-cause orders and essentially banned from coaching, various lawsuits were at least initiated, and Pearl himself was largely a pariah in major-college basketball.

That was why he had to go to Southern Indiana for his first head coaching job, a school about on a par with Tusculum in Tennessee. He slowly worked his way back up in the coaching profession, but a lot of people with strong connections to the basketball powers-that-be will never forgive him for violating the unwritten code of using illegal/unethical means to catch another program cheating. Some of those people have influence with the NCAA to this day.

That is one reason why so many jumped on what should have been a minor infraction at UT in such a big way. I know all this sounds incredibly unfair--or not--but it is something that would give pause in hiring Pearl to any prospective employer who knows how the NCAA or any other large, powerful, unaccountable organization actually works. As much as I like Pearl, I think UT would be opening a particularly messy can of worms with a group of people who we really can't afford to antagonize by trying to rehire him.

Bias? You bet. Favoritism? For sure. By ESPN? Perhaps; they have a symbiotic relationship with the NCAA, but they also employ Pearl as a studio analyst for college basketball. Might I be wrong about the consequences of UT rehiring Pearl? Absolutely. Is this therefore a risk UT could afford to take? Not my call. I'm just trying to give a little context to what might seem to some to be an inexplicable antagonism toward Pearl and UT by some powerful elements of the college basketball establishment. What the average fans don't know CAN hurt them and the program they pull for if they don't recognize all these and similar implications in pulling for Pearl's reinstatement at UT.

As soon as you roll over on another Coach in your profession you are a Rat / Fink and nothing more for the rest of your career. Taping a phone call with Deon Thomas to "get" another Coach is absolutely unforgivable. Tennessee should never have hired a dirtball like Pearl.

ACWLY writes:

I don't understand..are you saying we once had "basketball stepping stones" ?

smokeygrowl writes:

if they r cheatin who cares how u catch them

emailnodata (Inactive) writes:

CCM would make a great assistant to CBP.

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