published Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

5 at 10: Bruce Pearl, Vols future and the marathon running sumo wrestler

Buckets, the first weekend of the NCAA tournament is something else.

Here we go...

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    UT coach Bruce Pearl yells in the student section before the Lady Vols college basketball game against Duke in Knoxville on Jan. 22, 2007. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

It had to happen, right

Bruce Pearl was fired Monday, capping the best six-year stretch in Tennessee basketball history.

Pearl's utter indifference to the rules that are designed to place boundaries on college athletics was his downfall.

Can these rules appear to be silly and arcane at times? Of course, but they are still rules, and Pearl simply would not or could not follow them.

Follow the chain of events:

— Pearl committed the biggest no-no in college sports by lying to NCAA investigators;

— It comes out that Pearl tried to get a recruit and his family to lie to cover up his tracks;

— Pearl comes clean with his tearful public apology in September;

— Four days later, Pearl and Tony Jones commit a "Bump" violation where they make illegal face-to-face contact with a high school junior (Side note: This is a minor violation at its core, but, well keep reading);

— Pearl does not inform his UT bosses, who learn of the bump violation from the NCAA report in February when the NCAA findings have 10 allegations against Pearl and his program;

— Monday, in UT's statement, apparently there were rules broken earlier this month by Pearl.

Rumors have those rules as being as minor as failing to properly monitor the pass list at a gate outside of Thompson-Boling Arena to reportedly having a player (Brian Williams, according to ESPN) fail UT substance abuse tests. Williams did miss the last two regular-season games for a bad back.

UT's basketball program is about to enter some form of NCAA timeout, that is certain. And if Pearl, who has proven two things — he can flat-out coach, and he flat out can't follow the rules — was in charge the penalties would have been worse. This time around and next time around whenever Pearl broke them again.

It was the sum of the parts that cost Pearl his job. (That said, $50,000 a month for the next year, is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, all things considering.)

Let's go to noted 5-at-10 scholar H.I. McDunnough, the star of "Raising Arizona," and a man who has a decidedly checkered past.

Parole Board chairman: They've got a name for people like you H.I. That name is called "recidivism."

Parole Board member: Repeat offender!

Parole Board chairman: Not a pretty name, is it H.I.?

H.I.: No, sir. That's one bonehead name, but that ain't me any more.

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    Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl pleads his case with an official at McKenzie Arena in 2007. Staff Photo by Tim Barber

Pearl's shine: What did we learn

It must seem like the phones never stop ringing in the NCAA offices.

Starting last August with Agent-Gate that snared a slew of high-profile football stars from several schools to A.J. Green missing Georgia's first four games. Then into the season that before long was dominated by Auburn on the field and by rumors, claims and innuendos about pay-for-play schemes at Auburn off the field.

Then the first slices of the Ohio State debacle around the bowl games. Then Oregon's involvement in recruiting services. Then came Jim Tressel's public image implosion.

It seems two things are certain: First NCAA compliance attorneys are not going to hurt for work. Second, when you're rival school finds itself in the NCAA crosshairs, be very careful how much grief you give your pal at work or how much smack you talk to your golfing buddy, because know this — today it may be his school, but at some point the odds are it's going to be your's. Unless your a Vandy fan, then your school is fine, and you probably won't get heckled about it anyway because you're a Vandy grad and more than likely you're the boss. So there.

Side question for the group: How tense was the morning breakfast at the casa del Tressel, who like Pearl has had a hugely successful on-field career, and like Pearl committed the ultimate NCAA no-no by lying about and trying to cover up violations? Ball's in your court Ohio State.

  • photo
    Butler head coach Brad Stevens yells instruction to the court during the first half of the Southeast regional second round NCAA tournament college basketball games against Old Dominion, Thursday, March 17, 2011, at the Verizon Center in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

UT opening, who's next

At the bottom of TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's piece today is his list of possible replacements for Pearl. Here's some names being tossed about the 5-at-10 offices:

  1. Brad Stevens, Butler — The hottest name out there by a lot. If Hamilton wants to win back some of his UT fan base, this needs to happen. It will be tough, and yes, Stevens signed a 12-year extension after leading the Bulldogs to the title game. That said, the buyout is reportedly a relatively affordable $1 million.
  2. Chris Mooney, RIchmond — Another guy on the speed dial for big-time ADs with job openings. Whether it's to Atlanta or Knoxville or Raleigh, Mooney will be on the move soon. And where ever he lands will be better off for it.
  3. Rick Barnes, Texas — The guy can coach, and his time in Texas is starting to get stale. If he's looking, Hamilton could get a proven commodity and come out smelling like Ginger cookies.
  4. Charlie Sheen, unemployed — Sheen is all about winning. WINNING. Plus, he could come fairly cheap since he's out of work. But his recent checkered past may not be the best play for a program still awaiting word from the NCAA about its violations. Side note: Sweet Jim J. Bullock did you see Sheen's "Man Smooch." It's here.That's not about WINNING, dude. Not winning at all. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.
  5. Jay Greeson, Times Free Press — The 5-at-10 is breaking news that Greeson is not interested in the job. "Jay Greeson has the job Jay Greeson wants," Jay Greeson said Tuesday. (Side note: This is an all-time third-person record, since it includes actual third person and alter-ego third-person. Hope this doesn't offend you najones75, it just felt right.)
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    Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones runs onto the field to start at third base for a spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday, March 3, 2011, in Kissimmee, Fla. Jones made his first start at third base since his season-ending injury last August. Photo: David J. Phillip / AP

Braves update, Volume 2, Chapter 2

OK, apparently there is a way to keep L-Dub off the bases. Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones, the Atlanta Braves third baseman who we fondly call L-Dub, did not play in Monday's 8-7 loss to the Mets. His numbers — .420 (21-for-50) with team-highs in hits (21), doubles (7), homers (3) and RBIs (11) — surely call for a day off here and there, right?

As for Dan Uggla's less-than-stellar spring, well, know this: Uggla, the big-money free agent addition at second base, is hitting a less-than robust .231 and has many strikeouts (14) as he does total bases. On the surface this would be cause for concern.

But now know this, Uggla was worse last spring when he hit .197 with 19 K's. He responded during the regular season with his best season ever — career-best numbers with a .287 average, 33 homers and 105 RBIs.

And brace yourself, Johnny Braves Fan, Uggla is going to strike out a lot this year. In his five-year career, Uggla has averaged 152 strike outs a season. But when Uggla makes contact, Holy Glenn Hubbard's Beard, does he rip.

On pitches he put in play last year, Uggla was 169-for-440, which is a cool .384 clip.

  • photo
    Marathon monster: Sumo champ Kelly Gneiting, right, a 420-pound sumo wrestler, became the heaviest marathon runner in history. (Source: AP)

This and that

— We're planning on stopping by the SportTalk studio this afternoon at 5 p.m., and here's guessing that some guy whose name rhymes with "Loose Curl" will come up in conversation.

— It's football time in Tennessee, and after all the emotion from Pearly-Gate on Monday, that has to be a good thing. Here is TFP UT ace Patrick Brown's preview. The Vols start spring drills this week, and starting tomorrow, the 5-at-10 will break UT position-by-position throughout spring practice.

— NFL pro days — scouting events for college players who are entering next month's draft — are happening all over the country. TFP college football ace David Paschall has a spot-on preview of Georgia's here. Expect a lot of scouts in Athens with projected first-round picks A.J. Green and Justin Houston working out.

— Speaking of the draft, well, the 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this. And NFL draft guru-in-waiting Todd McShay has his by-round board posted on ESPN. Two things jumped out to the 5-at-10: First, roughly a third of the first-round picks are projected to be defensive linemen; second, UTC cornerback Buster Skrine is rated higher than any UT defensive player.

— OK, if you're done with you're morning flapjacks, get a load of this load. A 400-pound Sumo wrestler completed a marathon in L.A. Two quick things: First, the 5-at-10 feels supremely lazy at this moment; second, that's got to be tough on a pair of New Balances, right? That's 400 pounds with each step for 26.1 miles. Sweet Rubbery Souls, dude may need running shoes by Goodyear, and remember, it's all about the tires, gang.

— We're still examining the tie-breaking options for the Over/Under challenge. We'll post something in Wednesday's 5-at-10. Here are the people that are tied for first:

scole023 — Pitt/Tennessee

EC — Pitt/Georgia

Bigbearzzz — Pitt/Georgia

Pretend Al Davis — Pitt/Oakland

5-at-10 — Pitt/Wofford

BIspy4 — Pitt/Utah State

OTWatcher — Pitt/Old Dominion

ThatIdoKnow — Pitt/Missouri

Charlie S. — Pitt/Princeton

Chris Goforth from "The Show" on Fox 1310AM — Pitt/Belmont

Quake from SportTalk on 102.3 FM — Pitt/Belmont

Dr. B (He's a doctor after all) from SportTalk on 102.3 FM — Pitt/Utah State

Darrell Patterson, Channel 9 sports anchor — Pitt/Utah State

Until tomorrow.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Eustice_Chase said...

I would like to make one thing clear..rumors have been circulated and they are true...I am interested in the coaching vacancy at Rocky Top...Ham-bone..if you are reading..I am interested and my offer is on the table...Ill be waiting by the phone

March 22, 2011 at 10:28 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I did not have the liberty of watching Buster Skrine Play in person..but I checked out a highlight video of his on YouTube and holy toledo...that dude is all over the field...straight rocking folks...Buster Skrine buttons up his chin strap and goes to work...

March 22, 2011 at 11:32 a.m.
jgreeson said...

EC,

You have officially been added to the 5-at-10's "UT Watch List." You can have Greeson's spot. And dude, you know Ham-Bone is reading this. He's reading everything right now. For what it's worth, the 5-at-10 thinks Hamilton's job is as safe as an evening stroll in Coolidge Park. Wait, strike that.

The 5-at-10 thinks Hamilton is safe — he threw himself on the grenade in this thing in the eyes of the powers that be in Knxoville, and they won't forget it.

Buster made himself a lot of coin with his 4.29 in Indy. UTC will have its pro day Wednesday, but we're not sure if he's going to run again or not. We'll get UTC ace John Frierson (AKA Ned Ryerson) on this and have answers ASAP.

— 5-at-10

March 22, 2011 at 11:43 a.m.
patrickd said...

Nothing on Anthony Grant setting Alabama's single season home win record last night? Horse hockey.

Congrats Coach Grant on the record. Print the shirts.

March 22, 2011 at 11:54 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I was really wanting to make it to the UTC pro-day..but it looks that a series of "sicknesses" will not allow that....tisk tisk... if Hamilton can come through with a clutch hire...and Im talking ground breaking...earth shattering...Then he is safe...otherwise I say his britches are pretty warm...only time will tell...this is just all the more reason to look forward to UT Football that much more...

Gotta give mad props to the 5@10 for suggesting Sheen as the Men's Coach...

March 22, 2011 at 11:55 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

I would like to that cinco a las diez for featuring my picture above....sorry about the diaper. It was a rough run but i made it. Yes Sheen as the head coach...classic...also nice article as well (your other article). What do you think about Rick Byrd from Belmont? I just dont see UT landing Steven's. Also lets not forget about VCU's head coach..Smart? I'm pullin for Mooney or Stevens though. I'll hang up and listen to your comments. Thanks for taking my call.

March 22, 2011 at 12:08 p.m.
jgreeson said...

PDavi,

Stop. Take a deep breath. Repeat. If Bama wins an NIT national title, will it count toward the football number? What is that 15? 16? Alas.

Seriously, Grant has worked some magic there and that team should have been in the Big Dance. Now on to a quarterfinal matchup with Miami in what staff college football guru David Paschall dubbed "the George Teague-Lamar Thomas Rematch Game."

EC,

Ham-bone needs a huge, Huge, HUGE hire here. This can't be overstated. And while Sheen brings the star power, it may not be enough. And while EC, you bring the basketball knowledge, it may not be enough star power on a national scale. I agree Stevens may be a tough get, but Mooney would be big enough. So would Mike Anderson or Rick Barnes.

Osograndeee,

Byrd may be a touch long in the tooth, but he's a good coach. May not be a splashy enough name either. Byrd would do a good job, but if he gets it, then a few people told UT "Thanks, but no thanks." It's going to be an interesting search, no doubt.

— 5-at-10

March 22, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

OK, I agree but to my credit, as a player-coach I succesfully coached The Hondos to a respectable 3rd place finish in the Krystal 3 on 3 Challenge in 2000....I just wonder if the talking heads at ESPN will suggest Jon Gruden for the job ?

March 22, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Back a few 5@10s ago we talked about Best Pitching Rotation ever...well did anyone mention the 1954 indians? well it was a pretty solid staff...

March 22, 2011 at 12:59 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

Might as well throw Gruden's name out there, he's on every other list for every other opening. Plus, it allows us the chance to hear for the 35,478th time that Gruden's wife was a cheerleader at UT. Great call on the '54 Indians — weren't there three Hall of Famers in the rotation? Yes. Here's the skinny from baseball-reference.com (and if you are not familiar with baseball-reference.com, then take the next three days off and peruse the joint. It's fan-tab-ulous):

The pitching staff was simply incredible. Three of the Indians' rotation finished in the top five in the league in ERA - Mike Garcia, Hall of Famer Bob Lemon, and Hall of Famer Early Wynn. The other two starters, Hall of Famer Bob Feller (at age 35) and Art Houtteman, had ERA's that were both better than the league average ERA. Lemon, Wynn, and Garcia were in the top five in the league in wins, and Feller was second in the league in winning percentage.

EC, where do you have the third-place trophy for the Krystal 3-on-3? That's the Stanley-Steamer Cup, right?

March 22, 2011 at 1:19 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Oh yeah I will check that site out asap...

well at the moment Mrs.EC is using the trophy as a loose coin collector...sad thing is it will only hold about $3.75...

Good Call on the Cheerleader factoid...Im pretty sure I flinch everytime its mentioned...not sure why though...

March 22, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.
jomo11 said...

if you UTK is smart and lucky they will hire Gregg Marshall....the best coach out there

March 22, 2011 at 1:38 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo-double sticks,

Very nice, Nice NICE call on Gregg Marshall. Have heard his name a lot today as a matter of fact. If that's the guy UT has targeted, then the Big Orange wheels better move quickly; Marshall appears to be the front-runner for the NC State gig.

Good to see you around these parts Jomo, come back anytime.

— 5-at-10

March 22, 2011 at 2:02 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I don't think I've run 26.2 miles total in my life — including getting chased by jealous husbands. Maybe I could if I put down the bon bons. (That's just for you, V@X. And folks, I kinda bet that the good Mr. 5 at 10 is now going, quite loudly at his desk, "Bon bons! I need more bon bons!")

March 22, 2011 at 2:14 p.m.
jgreeson said...

BIspy2+2,

It's not the bon bons you've had the problem with — it's the Bud Buds. And if you have 26.2 miles it was over the course of multiple, Multiple, MULTIPLE years. And it was not all that quickly, either.

Alas, here's to "More bon bons," and "More Cowbell."

— 5-at-10

March 22, 2011 at 2:29 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Nickel and dime, if you ever get tired of talking about Bruce Pearl (and that's a treasure trove of material to make Capt. Jack Sparrow jealous), howsabout FSU telling high schools to ditch their logos and Eldrick getting a new 22-year-old squeeze.

March 22, 2011 at 2:38 p.m.
jgreeson said...

BIspy4,

You got me on the golfer formerly known as Tiger. The 5-at-10 completely dropped the ball. A Jackie Smith-in-the-end-zone miscue; a Jack Dundee (Yes, Robin Williams' character in "Best of Times")-type-of drop; a Bill Buckner-level boot. He will definitely be around later in the week, but at the very least, it's worth throwing her name — Alyse Lahti Johnston — out there. Apparently her stepdad is a big shot at IMG sports management and her real dad is former MLB pitcher Jeff Lahti. The first thing that pops to mind of course is the Doug E Fresh classic:

"Lahti, Lahti, she likes to party;

We don't cause trouble, we don't bother no body."

Don't know if she has heard about it or not, but apparently Eldrick had some trouble with fidelity in his first marriage. Seems like there was something in the newspaper and on the InterTubes about it a while back — could have been someone else, though.

As for the FSU thing, well, prep sports ace Stephen Hargis will have something in Wednesday's TFP about it.

Nice catches as always good Spy.

— 5-at-10

March 22, 2011 at 3:02 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

You did NOT just throw down the old school Doug E Fresh!!!! You just dated yourself there big guy....while your at it....tomorrow oughta be "80's hip hop rap song quote day" Points for variety and of course multipe artists are doble point values. Go for it..you know you wanna throw down a little: Its Tricky! to rock a rhyme thats right on time its tricky!

March 22, 2011 at 3:38 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Osograndee,

Maybe. Maybe. We might get a little funky, (that funky monkey). Or we may throw a shout-out to UT's athletic gear provider and wear "OUR AAA-didas, walking on the hardwood floors."

Maybe. It's definitely a possiblity.

And yes, I may have revealed my age — but most everyone knows "I'm a MAN. I'm 40!" But I never dated myself, sir. Never. Well as far as you know, any way.

— 5-at-10

March 22, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.
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