October 25, 2013

On The Rebound: Pearl should be coaching today

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — I don’t think I have ever been as mad as I would be right now if I were Bruce Pearl. The former Tennessee basketball coach probably had to be resuscitated after hearing the penalties brought against the University of Miami.

Pearl is in the final year of a three-year ban for allowing a recruit to attend a barbecue at his house and then lying to the NCAA about it. Meanwhile former University of Miami coach and current Missouri coach Frank Haith gets benched for five meaningless games while being at the helm of far worse infractions at Miami. A team with indiscretions so much in their history a documentary was made about them.

Miami’s football team will lose nine scholarships over the next three years and the basketball team will lose three for infractions that make inviting a kid to a barbecue look as harmless as, well, inviting a kid to a barbecue.

Miami booster Nevin Sharpio showered recruits with money, parties, and gifts. And then when the posse started to catch up with him, he took money from Haith and other coaches to keep quiet. Then the coaches tried to mislead the NCAA over their connection with the weasel.

This is how the NCAA summed it up, “[The committee came to] a factual conclusion that the former head men’s basketball coach and former assistant men’s basketball coach worked together to ensure that the booster received a large cash payment and that this payment would end the booster’s threats.”

For this Haith will not get to coach his team against Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Illinois, Hawaii, Gardner-Webb and IUPUI. He will still be at Missouri making $1.6 million per year.

And Pearl just served brisket.

Yes Pearl was guilty and made it worse by asking the parents of the recruit to lie and cover his behind. But apparently the worst mistake Pearl made was that he didn’t try to bribe them. Maybe then he would still be coaching. Even before the NCAA ruled on Pearl, the University of Tennessee suspended him for half of the team’s 16 conference games. And those are real games not the five exhibition-level games that Haith gets to miss.

What Pearl accomplished at Tennessee was remarkable. The Volunteers made the NCAA tournament all six seasons, with three trips to the Sweet 16 and one to the Elite Eight. He beat No. 1 teams coached by Bill Self and John Calipari. Pearl can coach, when he is allowed to coach.

Pearl is now vice president of marketing for the H.T. Hackney Company—a Knoxville-based wholesale distributor. It is safe to say he is not making $1.6 million for making sure store shelves are stocked.

Then you have the anger that must be building at USC. The Trojans lost two bowls games and 30 scholarships because former player Reggie Bush accepted money from an agent. There was no evidence that USC had any role or knowledge of the incident, but they got hammered. Coincidently the chairman of the infraction committee then was the late Paul Dee, who was AD at Miami during two major infractions at the school.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is out of coaching as well because he knew Tyrelle Pryor traded jerseys for tattoos. Again it was an infraction that did not bring additional talent or advantage to the school. The Buckeyes didn’t get to go to a bowl game or compete for a national title last year despite going undefeated.

So the only people happy here are Miami. The Hurricanes are currently ranked No. 7 and eyeing a major bowl game because all they got after a 2 1⁄2 year investigation was a few minutes standing in the corner.

There is nothing fair about the NCAA sentencing and Pearl should be knocking on their door in a big orange suit with a van full of lawyers.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
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