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Bruce Pearl ready for challenge of Vols


April 8, 2005
A number of interesting coaching moves were made during the NCAA Tournament. One that really caught my eye was Tennessee's decision to hire Bruce Pearl as head coach.

The Vols have made their sixth coaching change in 16 years with the hiring of Pearl to replace Buzz Peterson.

Bruce Pearl
Think about it, former Vols coach Jerry Green has to be wondering what's going on, because he took Tennessee to four straight 20-win seasons but was still forced out in 2001. Then Peterson simply couldn't get it done in his four years with the Vols.

Pearl did a phenomenal job at Wisconsin-Milwaukee (and previously at Division II Southern Indiana). In four seasons at UWM, he posted the best-ever winning percentage in Horizon League play.

He'll bring a special enthusiasm to Knoxville. His hiatus from a major school was too long, and it was due to a situation that occurred when Pearl was an assistant at Iowa.

He reported Illinois on a recruiting violation related to Deon Thomas. Pearl taped a phone conversation, and that was a no-no. I think he learned from that. To me, if there's an issue, you call the NCAA and let its investigators do their job.

Pearl suffered too long as a result of that situation. He battled and clawed for 15 years, and you can't keep a good man down.

Pearl brings the entire package, and there will be excitement galore in Knoxville. Tennessee has a problem filling its on-campus arena – even when 16,000 show up, it seems empty in 24,500-seat Thompson-Boling Arena. I would recommend that Mr. Pearl gets a new facility with a smaller capacity to create a more enthusiastic environment.

Coach Pearl can flat-out recruit. There will be plenty of excitement and noise from the orange fans in Tennessee.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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