By Darrell Puckett
There’s a new attitude in Auburn athletics brewing. It’s been circulating in the atmosphere ever since athletic director Jay Jacobs hired Gus Malzahn. Sunny Golloway was hired next to coach baseball, and then came Bruce Pearl for basketball. Jacobs has potentially established himself with the ranks of Louisville athletic director, Tom Jurich, as colleges’ top AD.
Auburn basketball has been nothing short of terrible for years and facilitates one of the worse football-basketball college programs. Of course, Coach Malzahn brought Auburn football back to dominance, but how about basketball? Obviously, Tony Barbee wasn’t the answer and was fired after AU’s loss in the SEC Tournament.
Who’s going to bring Auburn back? That answer was simple. Bruce Pearl.
Pearl’s resume speaks for itself. His record as Southern Indiana basketball coach was 231-36 with a NCAA D-II Championship in the ’94-95 seasons. He then took the Milwaukee job from 2001-2005, where Pearl lead them to an 86-38 record with two NCAA Tournament appearances. Afterwards, Pearl accepted the Tennessee coaching job where he excelled and brought together a struggling athletic college. His record at UT was 145-61 with six straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Pearl isn’t all shiny and glamorous, but no one ever said he was perfect. His past is talked about as if he committed a murder, but in reality, it was just one bad mistake. Pearl’s knowledge of the NCAA recruiting handbook is strong, but he just ignored it for one grill out. Yes, he hosted a cookout and acknowledged to the recruit that he shouldn’t be there because of NCAA rules. Aaron Craft and his family was the invited family, and they were encouraged to not speak of this party to anyone.
This obvious and ridiculous rule-break wasn’t what did Pearl in at Tennessee, but his consistency to lie about it all. Honesty is always the best approach to any problem, especially with the NCAA. So with all that being said, what does Pearl bring to Auburn and how can he bring this dying program back? Again, the answer is simple.
Pearl’s ability to engage a fan base and bring people together is exactly what Auburn needs. The Auburn Arena has been waiting for a coach to bring it to life and exemplify how college basketball should look like. His energy and enthusiasm will help promote Auburn in every avenue possible. Basically, Pearl’s a marketing machine who will sell AU basketball everywhere.
It’s a great time to be an Auburn Tiger with so many great coaches. There’s a lot of promise that sits at the pearly gates of Auburn, Ala. Malzahn, Golloway, and Pearl will bring Auburn to a national powerhouse in the big three sports. Congrats if you’re an AU fan, because it’s going to be a long fun ride to the top.
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