Bruce Pearl Is a Con Man, but He Has Media Immunity from Many Commentators
Tennesse coach Bruce Pearl was fired on Monday after six successful years as the school’s basketball coach. The charismatic man ended up losing his job for committing NCAA violations and then lying about his actions to the NCAA and his school. What’s amazing is that even though he committed numerous recruiting violations — making several impermissible phone calls and visits, the fans still are heavily supporting him. They’ve staged a rally and launched a facebook campaign to show how they feel about him. What you’ll also notice is that there is very little media criticism of Pearl and that many people shift the blame towards Tennessee or AD Mike Hamilton.
There’s actually a reason for that.
Pearl is one of the most media-friendly coaches around. To the best of my knowledge, he hardly turns down interview requests, and he’s extremely friendly when he does his interviews. He answers questions, is personable with the host, and he’s generally available for comment to help reporters with their stories. It’s an unfortunate truth, but the more friendly you are the harder it is for people to criticize you, and that is exactly what’s going with Pearl.
Many media members were apologetics towards Pearl’s plight Monday and the previous several months. I read and heard commentators who suggested he should still have a job because the violations were minor and because he apologized. I even heard people say that the athletic director should be fired for allowing the news to come out that Pearl would be fired prior to the tournament, sabotaging the Vols’ game against Michigan. That may be the case, but nothing should shift away from the central issue: Pearl lied to the NCAA and his school about his violations and even called a recruit’s father to help cover up the violation.
In actuality, Pearl is not much different from Kelvin Sampson. The difference is that a guy who joins your radio show and dresses in an orange blazer for games is a lot harder to criticize. The ultimate irony is that Pearl is once a guy who turned in a rival coach to the NCAA for a recruiting violation. Years later it’s him who’s committed violations and lied about them. That’s not something a chest painter does, right?