When Bruce Pearl and Tennessee receive their punishment from the NCAA Committee on Infractions this summer -- the hearing is in June, and the ruling is likely to come months after -- chances are Pearl won't be able to coach college basketball for some time. Historical precedent says Pearl is likely to receive a show-cause penalty for lying to NCAA investigators last year. By next fall, Pearl may find his career options rapidly diminished.
What will he do then? Take a few years off? Test his analytical skills on TV? Go the way of Kelvin Sampson and secure a strong position as an NBA assistant? Hey, what about the D-League?
Wait, what? The NBA Developmental League? Really?
It might not be as farfetched as it sounds. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the D-League's Maine Red Claws are "courting" Pearl for their head-coaching job. The Maine Red Claws, if you didn't know, are one of the D-League's most successful business operations; they've sold out 48 consecutive games, which might be the Joe DiMaggio hit streak of D-League attendance figures. They're also located in Portland, Maine, nestled all the way up in the far reaches of the northeast. And, you know, this is the D-League. It comes with none of the glamour or power of big-time college hoops and none of the prestige associated with an NBA position.
Would Pearl, a native New Englander, consider the offer? Maybe. But it seems far more likely the coach would hold out for a TV gig or a better coaching pitch from an NBA staff.
Either way, chances are Pearl will be back on some sideline eventually. How soon? Where? In Maine? I'm going to go with "I don't know," "I don't know," and "I strongly doubt it." But, hey, you never know.