Shocking that you guys can't see him for what he was...a con man. It was only a matter of time before he got caught. The program is way better off without him.
Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl conducted his first post-firing interview with Knoxville radio station WNML-AM/FM today. You can listen to the interview here, but here are some of the highlights:
* On new UT coach Cuonzo Martin: “He’s an outstanding man. A very fine young coach who has got a great pedigree.”
* On whether some of his former players might play better under Martin than they did under Pearl: “Yes. Sometimes coaching change can be very uplifting to a returning player. Particularly a returning player who may not have either flourished or been presented with the kind of role that they wanted to be presented with.”
* On whether he would like to do television work in the upcoming season: “I don’t know. It’s certainly a possibility. Right now we’ve got to get through the hearing with the committee on infractions in June and when we get through that we’ll take a look at what our options are.”
* On whether he’s looking forward to stating his case to the COI: “Uhhhh. (Chuckles.) Probably not. You know, we’ll go through the process and answer questions and hopefully we’ll come out with a very fair finding.”
* On whether he thinks the repeated talk of his troubles impacted this team last season: “I do, I do. It was a tough year. It was a tough year for the coaching staff. It was a tough year for the players. There were a lot of distractions and, you know, in some ways I’m proud of the way we overcame some of that adversity. We obviously got off to a great start in spite of it. … Could we have done a better job of coaching? Absolutely. Could we have done a better job of playing? Absolutely. … I wish I’d done a better job in spite of it.”
* On taking Tennessee to six straight NCAA Tournaments, a first for the program: “Certainly my goal, my dream was not to have a good run, but to try to add to the legacy. And it just didn’t work out that way. Obviously we’re sad. And terribly disappointed, but very accountable for putting ourselves in the position where this could happen.”
Pearl’s decision to not yet speak of his firing — including in this interview — is likely due to an “I will not bash you” clause that he probably had to sign in order to get his $900,000 parting gift from Tennessee.
This summer, however, Tennessee and Pearl go separately before the NCAA’s committee on infractions. It’s clear at this point that UT officials will try to dump all of the Vols’ violations on Pearl in an effort to protect their program. Pearl, of course, won’t like that. So whenever the gag order is finally lifted, it will be interesting to hear Pearl’s take on his dismissal.
But for now, he continues to hit all of the right buttons when it comes to exiting with class.