Bruce Pearl $14.7 million Fees as a Footbal Coach
navtejk | 21 Mar, 2014, 04:12 | Football | (1337 Reads)
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On Sept. 20, 2008, then-Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl hosted a cookout at his house, a decision that led to his downfall, three-year banishment from NCAA sidelines and, finally, his triumphant return when he was hired Tuesday by Auburn in a bold statement about not just the coach, but the state of college athletics.Tennessee lost a football game that day, but Pearl's focus was on three basketball recruits who came to town on unofficial visits – they, and their parents, paid to drive themselves to Knoxville. As such, no one associated with UT could give them a ride anywhere, let alone provide them food or drink.

Why? Who knows? At some point, some subcommittee of college sports leaders decided cookouts during unofficial visits should be against the rules, even if they would seem to be an excellent way for everyone – players, parents, coaches – to get to know each other in a relaxed environment.Bruce Pearl knew the rule. He knew what he could and couldn't do. That day he ignored it.

Pearl has rarely cared what others say he should or could do. He's a trailblazer, and that's how a former student manager took a long, winding and colorful road from student mascot, to castoff assistant, to D-II bulldog headman, to turning Tennessee into a national power.The postgame cookout occurred back at Pearl's house. And sometime during it, a picture was snapped of Pearl, recruit Aaron Craft, who currently plays for Ohio State, and the wife of a Volunteer assistant coach, posing inside his house with a painting hanging on a wall in the background.

After more than a decade of mediocrity, the Auburn University men's basketball program took a big step forward Tuesday by hiring Bruce Pearl as head coach.   
According to Charles Goldberg of AuburnTigers.com, Pearl will leave his post as an ESPN analyst in hopes of turning the Auburn basketball team around.Not surprisingly, Pearl's goals are lofty:

    I'm humbled and blessed to back in the game that I love. I don't know how long it will take, but it's time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy.Athletic director Jay Jacobs landed his top target with a 6-year deal starting at $2.2 million annually, less than a week after firing Tony Barbee.

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"Jay talked about raising the bar in men's basketball," Pearl said. "Have you seen the contract I signed yet? When you see the number -- he raised the bar in men's basketball."I'm just keeping it real, OK?"
Pearl will receive a $100,000 raise each year, bringing the value of the deal to $14.7 million, and will owe Auburn $5 million if he leaves in the next two years, Jacobs said.Pearl remains under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA barring him from recruiting until Aug. 23. Auburn has 30 days to accept or contest the penalty, and Jacobs said the school hasn't decided how to handle that yet.

Pearl had plenty of success on the court, taking Tennessee to the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons before getting fired in March 2011 in the wake of an NCAA investigation.Jacobs, who first spoke to Pearl at the ESPN studio where Pearl had been working last Friday night, said he believes he "has learned from his mistake." Pearl repeatedly talked about getting this second chance, and said he had heard from "a few schools" but was prepared to have to wait until after the show-cause expired to land a job.

"I would not have gone this year had I not felt this was the right opportunity," Pearl said. "I was prepared to not coach this year."Pearl was greeted by 100-plus fans when he landed at the airport in Auburn. He jumped into a mosh pit of fans.

"I want this same reception when we come back with an SEC championship," he told them. Pearl charmed them again with football coach Gus Malzahn and two assistants -- Tony Jones and son Steven Pearl -- watching from the front row.

Jacobs said with the move "we have raised the bar for Auburn basketball." He addressed the off-the-court issues in an open letter posted on the school's Web site and again later, saying he wouldn't have hired Pearl if he didn't think the coach was remorseful.

"After looking at the case and talking to Coach Pearl face to face, I am convinced without a doubt that he has learned from his mistake," Jacobs wrote.

"I've thought about this a great deal, and obviously so has Coach Pearl. I believe people who are genuine and sincere deserve second chances. If I did not believe Coach Pearl's apologies were sincere and heartfelt, I would not have even considered him."
Pearl, who is 231-99 in Division I, has been working in private business in Knoxville, Tenn., and for ESPN. He has led eight of his 10 Division I teams to the NCAA tournament, including twice in four seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and led Division II Southern Indiana to a national title in 1995.

Pearl led the Volunteers to the Sweet Sixteen four times and they made the Elite Eight in 2010.

Pearl inherited a Tennessee team that went 14-17 and lost its top two scorers, and took the Vols to a 22-8 record in his debut season, 2005-06.

Only North Carolina's Roy Williams reached 300 career wins faster among NCAA coaches.
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The last seven Auburn coaches have left with losing marks in the league, dating back to the Joel Eaves era from 1949-63. Pearl takes over a team that went 14-16 and loses three starters, including leading scorer Chris Denson.

That didn't take away from his joy of being "baack."

"I'm truly humbled and I'm blessed to have this opportunity," Pearl said. "It's been a long three years being away from the game. One of the things that I just want to tell you is as a coach and even as a father, when I made the mistakes I made at Tennessee, I let a lot of people down.

Pearl had plenty of success on the court, taking Tennessee to the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons before getting fired in March 2011 in the wake of an NCAA investigation.

Jacobs said he believes Pearl "has learned from his mistake." Pearl repeatedly talked about getting this second chance, and said he had heard from "a few schools" but was prepared to have to wait until after the show-cause expired to land a job.

"I would not have gone this year had I not felt this was the right opportunity," Pearl said. "I was prepared to not coach this year."

Pearl was greeted by 100-plus fans when he landed at the airport in Auburn. He jumped into a mosh pit of fans.

Pearl was cited for unethical conduct for lying to investigators in June 2010 about improperly hosting recruits at his home. He was placed under a three-year show-cause penalty.
Pearl inherited a Tennessee team that went 14-17 and lost its top two scorers, and took the Vols to a 22-8 record in his debut season, 2005-06.

Only North Carolina's Roy Williams reached 300 career wins faster among NCAA coaches.

The last seven Auburn coaches have left with losing marks in the league, dating back to the Joel Eaves era from 1949-63. Pearl takes over a team that went 14-16 and loses three starters, including leading scorer Chris Denson.

That didn't take away from his joy of being "baack."

"I'm truly humbled and I'm blessed to have this opportunity," Pearl said. "It's been a long three years being away from the game. One of the things that I just want to tell you is as a coach and even as a father, when I made the mistakes I made at Tennessee, I let a lot of people down.

Bruce Pearl still thinks about that afternoon all the time. The date was Sept. 20, 2008. Tennessee hosted Florida at Neyland Stadium for a football game. Pearl hosted three recruits, most notably Aaron Craft, at his home for a cookout that was in violation of NCAA rules. By now, you know the details. Somebody snapped a picture of Pearl and Craft. The NCAA eventually got a copy of the picture that led to an investigation that led to the end of his otherwise overwhelmingly positive six years at UT.

"I let so many people down," Pearl said. "I let my family down. I let my coaches down. I let our fans down. I should've just been strong enough at the barbecue to say, 'You 90 people can be here but you five or six can't.' I should've done that. But I didn't. So I obviously relive that all the time. And when I was asked about it, I handled it wrong."
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