Last time we checked in with Bruce Pearl was last Tuesday, when ESPN NBA hoops guru Marc Stein reported Pearl was in talks with the Dallas Mavericks about a potential job coaching the Texas Legends of the NBA Developmental League. I wondered whether Pearl was truly interested in the job, or whether he had come to the conclusion that a) college wasn't an option, b) TV wasn't going to happen and c) the only way for him to get to an NBA sideline was to work his way up through the D-League.
In an interview with the "3 Hour Lunch" show on Nashville radio's 104.5 Monday, Pearl talked at length about the investigation, his mistakes and his future career plans. He sounds genuinely excited about the Legends position, but he also makes clear that his true hope is to remain a college coach if the NCAA is willing to allow it:
Asked if he was leaning towards taking the job, Pearl wavered: "Prior to going down to Dallas for my interview the lean was that I was probably not going to do it. But having been there and met the people the lean now is that it's a possibility. It's a family decision. I'd have to leave my family, I'm a divorced dad, and there'd be some kids that aren't out of school yet and in college yet that are encouraging me that are saying, "Daddy it's only six months, you should go."
Asked if he expects to coach college basketball again, Pearl replied, "Yeah, I would. I certainly would." Pearl continued, "As soon as I'm allowed it (coaching in college) would be my intention. I've been doing it my entire life and I would like to think that the good outweighs the bad. And the good has very little to do with winning or losing, it has to do with ... six kids graduating this year."
We still don't know exactly what the NCAA will decide about Pearl's future, but it hasn't looked good since the Tennessee scandal broke. As Dana O'Neil wrote last year, the NCAA's precedent for punishing coaches in Pearl's situation -- coaches charged with unethical conduct -- is a matter of cold, hard math: In all but one of the 20 unethical conduct cases to go before the NCAA in the past two years, the coach charged with unethical conduct received at least a two-year show-cause penalty. Pearl doesn't say that specifically, but he seems to know -- or at least he's come to grips with the possibility -- that he's going to receive something similar from the NCAA at some point in the near future.
Anyway, eventually Pearl may coach in college hoops again. But it must be nice to have other options in the interim. Because that college coaching thing doesn't seem too realistic -- at least not anytime soon.