frank_talk (2006-10)

Never Too Early

Bruce Pearl may be popular, but he’s not perfect

by Frank Cagle

Oh, sure, everybody seems to be on the Coach Bruce Pearl bandwagon right now, but you know how fickle fans can be. It would be a good time to jump out there on the Internet and reserve the website just in case. But you can’t because someone registered the domain name last year, using a proxy to hide his or her identity. If this year’s University of Tennessee men’s basketball team doesn’t get to the Final Four, somebody is all set.

Unless of course someone got the domain name to keep it out of circulation. If you are a coach in big-time college sports, the first thing you should do before taking a job is to grab all the usual negative domain names. Because five minutes after you are hired, someone else will register it.

Since the domain name was purchased last year, it could have been a fan of Buzz Ball just waiting for Pearl to stumble. (You do remember Buzz Ball don’t you? I think they are now playing it in Coastal Carolina.) But if you have the site and you want to start the drumbeat about Pearl, just what would you say? He only beat Kentucky once?

Can we really come up with the Top Ten Reasons Bruce Pearl Should Be Fired? Sure we can. You should never underestimate the creativity of the fans.

Here’s our Top Ten. It’s a no-holds barred look at the situation. We know Pearl is a really popular guy, but we just have to run the risk of being run out of town on a rail. We call them the way we see them. We don’t pull punches.

The list:

No. 9: You used to be able to walk up and buy a ticket for any home game. Now it’s a three-hour line if you can get a ticket at all. In fact, as Yogi Berra would say, no one goes to UT basketball games anymore—they are too crowded.

No. 8: Pearl’s making Athletic Director Mike Hamilton look like a genius for hiring him. It’s creating the impression that former Athletic Director Doug Dickey screwed up Tennessee basketball for over a decade with bad hires, losing millions in potential revenue.

No. 7: Pearl sweats on national television. (Coach Phil Fulmer sweats on national television, but he wears a sweat suit.)

No. 6: Now instead of just getting your Lady Vols tickets and learning the numbers and the bios, you have a whole other team to worry about. Who has time to keep up with two basketball teams and memorize all those stats? This is the time of year to be following spring football practice, not March Madness. Can you really hold your head up when your out-of-state brother-in-law calls UT a “basketball school?”

No. 5: UT got fined by the SEC because fans were so excited after one game they stormed the court. You could say Pearl had no way to control thousands of screaming fans of Large Orange, but did the fans ever get so excited they stormed the court before Pearl arrived? I think not.

No. 4: All the other SEC colleges used to love our basketball team and look forward to playing us. Now they don’t like us and their students say mean things. We now have the coach of the University of Memphis angry because kids in Memphis want to come to UT to play basketball. Whatever happened to getting along with people?

No. 3: Let’s face it. Pearl doesn’t look as good in an orange blazer as Ray Mears. Did ESPN ever say Mears looked “hideous?” (But of course, they didn’t have ESPN then.)

No. 2: Pearl has turned all the cynical sportswriters in town into butt-kissing fans.

And the No. 1 reason to fire Bruce Pearl is: He’s making football fans wonder what the football team could do if it had coaching.

Frank Cagle is a political analyst and the editor of Knoxville Magazine . You can reach him at .