Randy Smith: Bruce Pearl Is A Good Fit For Auburn

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

Former Tennessee head basketball coach Bruce Pearl will be the new head coach at Auburn University. The fact that Coach Pearl already has a lot of orange in his closet isn’t the only factor that made him a logical hire for the Tigers. He’s a good hire because he is a proven winner.

In six seasons at Tennessee, he fashioned a 145-61 record with six straight NCAA Tournament appearances. His 2005 team advanced to the NCAA’s Sweet 16, but he has won everywhere he’s been. His overall coaching record is 462-145; that includes previous stops at Wisconsin-Green Bay and Division II  Southern Indiana.  Auburn needs Bruce Pearl, but Pearl also needs Auburn.

This summer, Coach Pearl will be coming off a “show cause” penalty placed on him by the NCAA when he lied to investigators about some minor recruiting violations. I said it then and I will say it now; if he had only told the truth, he would have been slapped on the wrist and suspended a game or two, but he would still be Tennessee’s head coach. Instead the University fired him and he has spent the last two seasons as an analyst for ESPN.

“I’m humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love,” Pearl said in a statement released on Tuesday. “I don’t know how long it will take but it’s time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy.”

Basketball has never been that important at Auburn. Football is king on the plains, and will still be king no matter how well Tiger basketball does under Bruce Pearl. Auburn has been to a mere eight NCAA Tournaments, with five of them coming under the direction of Sonny Smith and Mack McCarthy. The Tiger’s last successful NCAA run came in 2003 under Cliff Ellis who was fired the next year. Pearl replaces Tony Barbee who was fired after posting a 49-75 record in four seasons.

When Coach Pearl came to Tennessee in 2005, the Vols had missed five straight NCAA Tournaments. He rebuilt quickly and made Tennessee basketball a relevant fixture in college basketball again. He even guided them to their first ever number one ranking in 2009. The chore is much tougher at Auburn however. The Tigers’ administration seems to be thrilled with the hiring of a big-time winner, though one with a bit of baggage. The money will be there and so will the support.

It will be interesting to see if Coach Pearl paints his body in orange and blue and goes shirtless as he did at Tennessee. He made an immediate hit with the Vols’ student body and remains one of the school‘s most popular coaches. Just a couple of weeks ago, there were petitions going around to hire Coach Pearl back at Tennessee. Coach Cuonzo Martin’s squad woke up just in time to win five of their last six games and make the NCAA Tournament, although the Vols must win a play-in game against Iowa Wednesday night, just to be the 11th seed in the Midwest region.

Bruce Pearl is a good fit for Auburn and vice-versa. After all, how many coaches would be able to make Auburn fans excited about something to do between football season and the start of spring practice? 

-----

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com


Dalton State Roadrunners Keep Streak Alive With Late Comeback

The Roadrunners trialed throughout most of the game, but a blazing comeback in the second half kept their win streak alive as #6 Dalton State defeated Coastal Georgia, 79-70 at Mashburn Arena  on Saturday .   THE FIRST HALF The Mariners brought the intensity early and opened an early 13-9 lead with  13:32 left. The Roadrunners would close the gap and take ... (click for more)

UTC Wrestlers Win 29-10 Over Southern Illinois-Edward

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling team snapped a four-match slide with a 29-10 win at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville tonight.  The Mocs (4-7, 2-0 SoCon) ran out to a 13-0 lead and took eight of the 10 individual matches in the win.    Sophomore Alonzo Allen continues to impress with another big win at 125.  He scored an 18-9 decision over ... (click for more)

Alabama Man Faces Murder Charge In Shooting Death At Bradley County Landfill

An investigation by  s pecial agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of an Alabama man in a shooting death that occurred last fall at the Bradley County landfill.   At the request of 10 th  District Attorney General Steve Crump, last Sept. 8 TBI special agents began investigating a shooting death that occurred that ... (click for more)

Man Shot In East Lake Winds Up Facing Several Criminal Charges

Police said a man who was shot on Sunday morning in East Lake was assaulting the woman who shot him and others immediately before the gunfire.   Police said 29-year-old Latesha Hinton would not be charged in the shooting of Dieshunn Lindsey, 30. At approximately  10:50 a.m.,  officers with the Chattanooga Police Department responded to the 2700 block of ... (click for more)

Proud Of Chattanooga And The Women's March

I was very happy to participate in the Women’s March on Chattanooga yesterday afternoon. The diversity and the sheer numbers of women, men and children were incredible. One estimate was at least 3,000. Standing together with all of these like-minded souls was overwhelming and humbling.  I have rarely been so happy and so proud of my town.  One question is, why is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jumoke’s Thuggery Ends

Jumoke Johnson, the most notorious criminal in Chattanooga’s recent history, was killed by a rain of bullets in the 2100 block of East 12 th Street at little after 8 o’clock Friday night and for the many of us who have kept up with the 23-year-old, you wonder how he ever lasted this long. He was aptly proclaimed as the “most dangerous man” to ever have been sentenced in Chattanooga’s ... (click for more)