ITH Super Happy Fun Time Coaching Search: Bruce Pearl

  • 03/26/2008 1:50 pm in

pearl2box.jpgKelvin is out the door and Dan is not our man, so that can only mean one thing: It’s coaching search time! Here’s a look at the candidates that could land in Bloomington. We’ll give you the pros, the cons and the bottom line. This afternoon: Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl.

Pros: Bruce Pearl wins, profusely and almost as a habit. In his first nine seasons at Southern Indiana, Pearl never had a season in which he won fewer than 22 games; in 16 years as a head coach, Pearl has won fewer than 20 games only once, in his first season at UW-Milwaukee. He’s won high — at Tennessee — and he’s won low — at Southern Indiana — and he’s blazed a trail of his recognizability and personality at each stop. Pearl can also recruit, largely because he fosters an atmosphere of fun and freedom and runs a fast break system that appeals to young players. In this way, one could argue he’s basketball’s Pete Carroll — both are uniquely predisposed to understanding modern players and willing to bend to fit those needs. He’s become a star in Rocky Top despite it a). being deep SEC football country and b). playing on a court named after the monolithic women’s head coach. He’s a winner. His nickname is “Brucers.” Also: Illinois fans hate him, and as a rule, I like everything Illinois fans hate.

Cons: First, let’s clear up what is and is not a con: Headbands are not a con. If you’re concerned that Pearl would destroy everything you love about IU basketball because he lets his players wear their personal style on the court, we’ve got worse issues in Indiana than not having a basketball coach.

That aside, there are concerns, most of which revolve around Pearl’s salary. Pearl currently averages $1.3 million a year in base salary plus compensation, a figure one would hope IU could top but which isn’t a given in any athletic department, especially one without Tennessee’s football money to throw around. Other cons include Pearl’s style; where one might see a funny guy full of personality, others might see an overbearing, spotlight-chasing boor. We’ve also heard the impression that some see Pearl as “sleazy,” perhaps because he’s been photographed with young girls, or perhaps because he was regarded for so many years as a snitch.

Bottom line: Pearl is the big splash. If IU wants to make a screamer headline of a hire and simultaneously re-install a positive cult of personality at the university, Pearl is the go-to guy. He’s not all style, either; his record is that of a proven winner, and after his exile from bigtime college coaching to Evansville for nine years he’s rocketed back to the top of his profession. That’s not a coincidence. If hired, there’s no doubt Pearl would bring plenty of wins — and plenty of entertainment — back to the state of Indiana.

Tomorrow morning, PostmanR will break down Scott Skiles.

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  • “Personal style”= me first attitude. Quit sugar coating things. So you are telling me that Gordon had no “Personal Style” b/c of his coach. You don't need to be PC on this site

  • Ryan_Btown

    Love the guy…but even though he plays on a court named after a women's basketball coach, I feel this pick is unrealistic.

    Side note: Not trying to offend anyone with the women's basketball comment but I'd personally rather watch fourth graders dribble off their knees for 40 minutes.

  • msdiu81

    He won't come to IU. He doesn't want to face Illinois during the season. He is personally offended the Illini fans continue to hate him and he does not want any part of going into their place to play. The Illini factor is/will be the reason he won't come.

  • xxZPxx

    Pearl might listen to what IU has to say but it will only be because he will get a bigger contract from Tennessee because of it. He isn't going anywhere, boys.

  • easy

    He wants IU to want him so he can get more money out of Tennessee. I'm not so sure IU is interested. He's somewhat controversial, and would be a “bigger than the program” type of guy. He's got an ego, he's considered a womanizer, his style wouldn't be popular, he'd be expensive. I think he'd be a bad fit for what we need right now.

    Now I DO like Pearl, just not at Indiana. His style (personal and on the court) are just not what we need IMO.

  • deedubbadoo

    Having watched him coach at USI, he is a maniac! But he is a proven winner. I don't think he will leave Tennessee for IU but I would be happy if he did. He is a character thats for sure, but he is also a pretty darn good coach to boot.


    I am from Evansville where i got the chance to witness first hand Pearl's success. He gave a spark here that was much needed. He is a little high on himself but is a proven winner……some say he wont come but it was quoted from his mouth in the Evansville courier and press in which pearl said this, “There is a job opening in Indiana and i would love to live in Indiana”. He also said that he would not only answer the phone if Indiana were to call him, but he would talk to them and went on to say, how can you not talk to a school with the history of success and passion that Indiana has.

    Pearl would be amazing although many fans would hate his style of play and the players he attracts…..half of us couldn't handle Ellis' hot head. This hire could cause controversy, but im all for it

  • tberry

    I think Pearl would come to IU. Many of the really big names are in their comfort zone. In other words they think they have made it and want to simply milk it for all it is worth and then retire.

    My observation of Pearl is that his personality would force him to look at IU because he could be a much bigger splash in the Basketball World at Indiana than at Tennessee. The chance to be the reincarnation of Bobby Knight at Indiana and who knows steal the great PR. It is not just the winning because he has won every where he has been but it is the challenge of winning at a TOP program and no matter what the Pukes or Weber Wieners say, IU is still one of the historically premier programs.

    The question is, does the IU program want to hire a personality that will draw the attention away from them? Will the fans appreciate the reincarnation of a style of play that would make IU the HURRYIN’ HOOSIERS again?

    The question is not whether he and IU would win because we already know the answer to that. YES!!!

  • southsidehitmen

    Postman E: You mean he's the Pete Carrol of basketball right?

    And….Pearl definitely has the best personality out of all the potential coaches.

    I still think i'd rather get an up and comer that would be even more ambitious to do well at IU…

  • JerryCT

    Except for the Evansville newspaper interview I donot see any case here for me to believe he wants this job. Will his ego let him coach in the shadow of BMK ?

    I guess I WOULD like to see him coach Gordon against Illinois at their place. The EVENT STAFF would have to add 100 extra defibrillators

  • ChicagoHoosier

    Is this post satirical? Does Pearl appear to be a guy who wouldn't take a job because he is afraid to travel Champaign to play a basketball game? Have you ever heard of a coach turning down a big time gig because he/she didnt want to face a rival school with whom he/she had bad blood with? Simply ridiculous.

    In my opinion, this is should be our main target. I dont know where all these people get the idea that he wouldnt come to Bloomington. Money talks and basketball is the life-blood of this school. Tell me this guy wouldnt want that?

    Sure, there's a chance he might use us as a leverage, but he'd be a fool not to listen.

  • MPmike

    I don't know why people think that IU is a place that people wouldn't want to coach. If you are a competitor and want a challenge at a basketball school and the state of Indiana in which basketball is king. IU is still one of the most prolific programs of all-time. It is ranked in the top 7 for basketball programs along with- (UCLA, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke)
    There are some coaches who don't want to come to IU because they are not up to the challenge or they are just comfortable with their situation and don't have to deal with the tremendous pressure and stress that comes with being the coach at IU when they have it alot easier at their current school. This is the major reason not to come to IU.

  • JerryCT

    Sorry. My post below did not take advantage of your points. I might have underestimated his ego and maybe he thinks he can top BMK's 3 NCAA's. I had not considered him that far out …………………..or is it ?

  • BayAreaHoosier

    “brucers” as a pro?

  • Sigh. Is it PC to tell you that's a silly comment? Because it is.

  • What is the 7th school? Because I've always considered it to be a Big 6, namely the 6 schools that have won three or more titles.

  • JerryCT

    Don't know but 3 is the magic number since there are several with 2 nipping at our heels.

    I think all the coaches mentioned and reviewed can win at IU. BUT……….I also think only one is positioned in time , space and intangibles to become a LEGEND………….Tony Bennett…………what if he beats UNC this week, he will have made it already

  • JerryCT

    I can't wait for the Skiles PROS and CONS coming next. Here are my simple ones:

    PROS: yes he was one in the NBA

    CONS: yes , he was one of them too in Michigan

  • BTOWN40

    I'm about 65 percent partial to Bennett and 35 percent to Miller. My ? is this. What are we looking for in a coach? Bennett looks to be a coach you could fall in love with, getting his players to play to there max, hard nosed defense and mental toughness. Can we win national championships with him though? What you see at WSU is great, not any big name players, but can you get the higher caliber player to buy into what he is teaching. Miller seems to have the more athletic team, but there focus seems to be elsewhere at times during some games. I watched several of their games and the 2 games late in the season to Saint Joseph, it just seemed liked they weren't all focused and most of these guys are seniors. I do liked how they showe mental toughness against Purdue in the tournament..I just feel that Bennett gives us more of what we want right now. I personally would rather have us in every game, because of our defense (Bennett), winning Big Ten titles (defense), and let the rest of theseason fall where it may. I think people put 2 much stock in the tournament. Too much luck is involved. Would we be considering Miller if his team didn't come back against Purdue, but is that enough for IU fans? I would rather look at the body of work of how a team played, not how they did in the post season. IU and WSU had about the same record this year, but Bennett's squad looked far more impressive in there losses than we did. I can handle a loss knowing that the kids busted there ass and never gave up, what I can' watch is the mental checkouts, and lack of effort that has been on again and off again since Knight was let go..GO BENNETT
    I don't think Pearl is the answer for us at IU, his play just doesn't seem to fit the Big Ten style. That does't mean he iisn't a great coach just not for us right now

  • bz

    the tournament is overrated?! you begin every season with the goal of winning the national championship, not winning the big ten. yes winning the big ten is important. consistantly being at the top of the big ten establishes a team as a 2nd tier team (wis.), do it consistantly enough and you can be a top tier school (mich st.). consistantly contending for (and winning) a national championship is what makes a program legendary. i don't want to root for a school that will always be solid, but never dance to “one shining moment.”

  • southsidehitmen

    College sports teams are way more interesting than pro teams.

    For the pro teams that I like, (the White Sox, the Bulls, and the Bears…in that order by the way) I would've sold my soul to see them just have one championship year….every other year be damned. And two out of three of them have delivered.

    For College, i'm not sure. I don't know if I would sell my soul for just one year of greatness and a national title. For some reason, I want the Hoosiers to get banners # 6-7-8 before I'm retired. (I'm only 22)

    if this is to happen….i don't know who should be the head coach.

    But if the supposed “blue ribbon comittee” is looking to make a 'big' hire, rather then the right one…shame one them.

    Tony Bennett is my #1. Followed closely by Sean Miller.

  • jgongora86

    here, here!

  • BrianK

    Gordon's problem was Sampson saying if he comes he won't tell him how to play and he can play anyway he wants instead of coaching him.

  • BrianK

    Anyone out there that is believing a coach saying he wouldn't go somewhere give me a break lol. Almost every coach starts out saying that. especially around tourney time. Take what they say with a grain of salt, they don't want to distract their team. Can you say Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino. Pearl KNows if he came to IU that would be headline central on ESPN and everyother media outlet plus it would be the leading headlines going into the season. he knows he would have to win a couple more titles to make it past the womans team and football. Coaching in Indiana he already knows what he would be getting himself into if he coaches here and that if he succeeds how he will be treated. Successful IU coach = Legend. Successful Tennessee coach = Fascination because football is right around the corner. Case in point, you heard all about U of K's bad season alot more than Florida's and they won the past 2 titles. You heard alot more about Billy Clyde then you did Billy D. I have Bennett as my # 1, Pearl #2 and MIller/Matta #3.

  • Most of us were forced to read The Inferno by Dante….anyways he gets into this rings of hell thing…well, seems the innermost ring of hell is occupied by those who BETRAYED others. Betrayl. Judas was there along with Brutus. My question is will Bruce Pearl be there for rattin out another coach. Then there is the clown act stuff. I mean all this is fine for the mascot but the coach? The schmoozing with lucious coeds is a skill and I'll give him a pass on that. All that being said I would run for dog catcher in Hypocrisytown and pretend I had no problem with him if he became our coach. OKOK…”you never read this”<jedi mind trick

  • splenda

    Bruce Pearl is the Jim Valvano of the 21st century — in every sense, both good and bad.

  • MPmike

    You're right. It's six. IU is in the top 5 or 10 though.

  • MPmike

    You're right. It's six. IU is in the top 5 or 10 though.