Image courtesy of Vinny's temporary Pearl blog from last spring.
Since he arrived on the national scene, I've been a big Bruce Pearl fan. Part of me hoped that he would one day come back to Heights to coach BC basketball. Even though I knew it was a long shot, when the BC job opened up this spring, I prayed that a miracle would happen and Pearl would return to his Alma mater. We are lucky he didn't.
Tennessee has just self-imposed sanctions on Pearl and his staff for recruiting violations and lying to the NCAA. Although the staff and coach have fallen on the sword and cut Pearl's salary, the NCAA can impose additional sanctions too. It is going to be messy for Pearl for a while and he will have the cheater tag for the rest of his career. If he had come to BC, the sanctions wouldn't have followed him, but the black cloud would have. BC would have been in a situation similar to when Kelvin Sampson coached Indiana while his old school suffered for his misdeeds.
Instead we now have Steve Donahue and his squeaky clean image. He's not as charismatic as Pearl, but Donahue has the chance to build a program the right way. And doing it the right way is probably healthier than any emotional shot in the arm that Pearl might have provided.
I guess my biggest disappointment in all of this is losing faith in Pearl. I knew he wasn't great at keeping his kids out of trouble, but assumed that as a former whistle blower he would at least play by the rules. Now he is just another shady coach of a big-time program.
Pearl served his career penance for being a whistle blower. Maybe now this experience will be another humbling lesson and chance to rebuild. I will be rooting for him, but will never pine for him to return to BC as a coach and basketball savior.