Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now? What About Now? Now?: A Day In The Life of Bruce Pearl

Bruce Pearl and Paul Marcarelli are probably good friends by now, and if they aren't they should be. I can imagine Ol' Brucey is wishing he had done a little less "signal testing" on his university issued cellular phone. If you don't know what I'm talking about read this and this. Basically, Pearl lied and provided misleading information to NCAA investigators on a number of issues, and three weeks later notfied officials that he had provided inaccurate information.

Pearl was subsequently fined $1.5 million by UT AD Mike Hamilton, was banned from off-campus recruiting trips for a year, and his staff received a 25% pay cut and a 3-12 month off-campus recruiting ban. After the prior incidents (drug/DUI arrests, gas station holdups, possession of a firearm with filed-off serial numbers, robberies, you know- the normal stuff) Hamilton was looking to make an example of someone and Bruce struck while the iron was hot.

Now it appears some new info has come out regarding violations. Pictures have surfaced in Pearl's home with former UT recruit Aaron Craft, and reports have surfaced Jordan McRae and Josh Selby, a former UT commit but Kansas signee were also at BP's house this offseason. As you can imagine, Pearl lied about this as well.

In light of this new info, it's hard for me to imagine Pearl will be around in Knoxville for long. It's actually very ironic that all of this is happening to such a squeaky clean guy in Knoxville. If you know anything about his history you know that he and Jimmy Collins, the former Illinois-Chicago coach are chums because of their recruiting chops.

"What goes around comes around. Now that Bruce got caught doing what he was probably doing all the time, he thinks it's OK to say, 'I made a mistake.' It will be interesting to see what happens to him. I'm watching with a microscope."

If you don't know what I'm talking about, in the late 1980's Pearl was an assistant at Iowa and Collins was an assistant at Illinois. Deon Thomas was a highly regarded player at what is now Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, and was being recruited by both schools. Pearl recorded a converstion with Thomas in which he described being promised cash and an SUV from Collins and turned it into the NCAA. He then accused Collins of cheating, among other things, and offering benefits to various recruits in order to gain an advantage.

Thomas then denied the allegations Pearl initiated. After investigation, no proof was found that improper benefits had been given, however, several other infractions were discovered. Illinois was charged of a major violation and, being that it was the universities 3rd in 6 years, it was found there was a "lack of institutional control". Cue the postseason bans and recruiting/scholarship restrictions.

Though Collins was cleared of any wrongdoing, the incident tarnished his name and image in the recruiting circles in Chicago. This effectively stalled all of Illinois recruiting efforts and it took years to recover from the scandal. Needless to say, Pearl and Collins don't exchange Christmas cards.

I'm really not surprised that this is happening in Knoxville. UGA's recent history hasn't been sparkling, but the culture at UT is systemically flawed. It's gonna take a lot more than Mike Hamilton fines and Vince Dooley's kid to make changes to that. Being that they are so limited in terms of resources from their own state, they have to go out to other states and recruit the guys that might not fit the in-state schools' criteria or they have to have to find some advantage, whether legal or not, to get them in. After a while, you've got a bunch of players that no one else took a chance on or guys in which you had to cheat to get there. Not a good combo.

If you don't know, this situation is VERY important to Mark Fox. I'll expound on why a little later.

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