Pearl has saved message for 7 years

Bruce Pearl's got mail -- voice mail, that is.

The Auburn coach revealed Friday at the school's annual Basketball Letterman Reunion that Charles Barkley left him a voice mail seven years ago that Pearl has saved ever since.

"Don't get me emotional about this, but the truth of the matter is he called our basketball office one day," said Pearl, who was head coach at Tennessee at the time. "He says, 'Coach Pearl, this is Charles Barkley, you do not need to call me back. I've just been watching your teams play and I love the way you coach and I love the way your teams play.' "

Barkley, who starred at Auburn and also attended Friday's event, confirmed the call.

"I left him a message X amount of years ago that said, 'Hey, man I don't know you, but I like the way you coach, I like your teams and continued success,' " Barkley said.

"I just liked the way his team competed."

The encouragement meant so much to Pearl that he saved the message.

"I have it on an old cellphone," Pearl said. "Believe me, there are times when we get down on ourselves and lose confidence in what we do and I've listened to that message a time or two. I had never met him, I didn't call him back because he said don't call me back, but I kept that message. I absolutely still have it today."

Barkley said he calls coaches from time to time to compliment their success and considers it a funny coincidence that Pearl ended up at his alma mater. Pearl was hired by Auburn in March.

"Teams always take up the personality of coaches and you can tell he's a very competitive guy," Barkley said. "I'm excited."