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Two coaches who were fired by Tennessee take in Vols game from courtside

What a strange, surreal day in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Bruce Pearl, who took the Vols to unprecedented heights as head coach from 2005-11, returned to Thompson-Boling Arena for the first time since being fired after NCAA sanctions four years ago. He coaches Auburn now, but is still very popular in Tennessee -- remember that petition to re-hire him last year? -- and the local fans greeted him accordingly.

How many times do you see a fired former coach high-fiving students as head coach of a conference rival?

But Pearl wasn't the only coach fired by Tennessee in the house on Saturday. Phillip Fulmer, who won the 1998 college football national championship and coached 16 seasons at UT before being canned in 2008, sat courtside and even donned an orange blazer, which Pearl used to famously wear during games against Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Fulmer got a standing ovation as well.

As if that weren't enough, current football coach Butch Jones was also in the house, sitting in the student section and hosting recruits on the final weekend before national signing day.

And oh yeah, the basketball game. The Vols won that 71-63. So with two fired coaches and a popular football coach stealing much of the spotlight in Knoxville, it was a pretty big day for current basketball coach Donnie Tyndall as well -- and the student section chanted his name as the final buzzer sounded.