Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Pearl’

Tobias Harris is all Vol

Tennessee BasketballSelby who?  Bruce bounced back by getting the #3 PF, #7 player in the country to go with the #6, and #35 SGs in the country.  Billy Donovan’s day just got so much worse.

I have the honor to be, the VolAmbassador | Gate 21

2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 4

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by:

Vol Junkies

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Vol Junkies, who has served up another installment of questions burning in the minds of the citizens of Orange Nation.

Thus, here are our thoughts for the week:

Week 4

1) What is your thought on Eric Berry’s Heisman chances?  Should he play on offense in-order to increase his chances?  Is Kiffin being to selfish saying Berry will not practice offense?

bullet HSH: I’m not exactly how real Berry’s chances of actually winning the Trophy—which I deemed meaningless after the Manning debacle.  Not only does he have the obstacle of being a defensive player, he has to basically beat Colt McCoy from Texas, Sam Bradford from Oklahoma and some guy named Tebow.  I don’t think Lane Kiffin should play Berry on offense just to help his Heisman chances.  If our offense is seriously sucking, then sure, desperate times call for desperate measures.

That said, I have absolutely no problem with the University doing the whole campaign thing.  Berry is obviously a special, once-in-a-while player with a great attitude.  Seeing him in person on and off the field the past two years has been something I’m glad to have been a part of—now if only he might consider staying for his senior year…


bullet Lawvol: I have very mixed (albeit not necessarily negative) feelings on this.

First of all, I personally believe that Eric Berry is more than deserving of a shot at the Heisman Trophy.  In two short years he has pretty much become the man-beast of SEC defenses and is, hands down, the best defensive player in the toughest conference in the country.  I personally believe that he is the best defensive player in any conference, anywhere.  That, however, is just my opinion and I will be the first to admit that I am biased.  Still, there is no arguing with the fact that Eric Berry has earned the right to be considered among the top players in the country this season and to be considered for the Heisman.  I am unequivocally behind the Tennessee’s campaign to promote Berry’s Heisman candidacy.

That said, I am less that optimistic about his chances…

I say that because, since only one truly defensive player has previously won the Heisman—which I am sure every Tennessee fan remembers all too well—the precedent is somewhat weak.  Furthermore, given the national media’s love affair with Tim Tebow, I expect that every possible machination that can occur to ensure Tebow winning the trophy for the second time will be brought to bear, if at all possible.

There is also the fact that exaggerated hype often leads to less-than-stellar performances since, with everyone talking about how great a particular player is, the target on their back gets even bigger when facing opponents.  That is not to say that I doubt Berry’s ability to produce in the same way he has in the past, but recognizes that opposing teams will be gunning for him … and staying away from him.

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Headlines, Links & Lies: “Yes I Can” Edition

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

This really requires no explanation…

Video: Yes I Can: SwiperBoy

• HT to:  Rocky Top Talk

Friends, I think we may have new motto in Big Orange Country…

2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 3

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by:

Your Mother Slept with Wilt Chamberlain

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Thomas the Terrible over at YMSWWC.  As you may have noticed, I have been a bit scarce this week, while HSH has been burning it up with his awesome series of 2009 SEC Football Previews (which, by the way, are now linked and accessible via the links on the countdown widget in the sidebars).  Given the fact that he has done yeoman’s work this week already (and the fact that I have been so un-helpful due to a spate of pesky depositions), this week I am flying solo on the Big Orange Roundtable.  Which pretty much means that this set of responses will suck more than usual.

At any rate, here are my thoughts for the week:

Week 3

1) Now that we have covered the receivers & QB’s, let’s get to the running game.  Just how much improved do you think the running game will be??

bullet Lawvol: Every time I make predictions about how good someone is going to be, how many games someone will win, or how likely it is that Charlie Weiss develops a gravitational field and causes opposing coaches to go into orbit, I look like a fool.  I am awful at this sort of thing.

I suppose that Niels Bohr got it right when he said “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

All that said, I do think that the running backs this year have the chance to really do some special things … or fall flat on their faces.  We really have no choice but to lean on them.  My gut tells me that Bryce Brown will be great someday, but that it is simply unreasonable to expect him to come exploding out of the gates from day one.  While he might end up factoring-in significantly by mid-season I don’t see him being the cure-all for the Vols offensive woes from last season immediately.

For this reason, I see Montario Hardesty as the man on which the Vols’ early-season offensive hopes hangs.  If he can stay healthy and stay focused, I think he has the potential to really put up some gaudy numbers behind the re-tooled offensive line with its zone-blocking scheme.  Of course, no matter how good Hardesty may be, if Tennessee cannot improve its passing game at least a little, then defenses are simply going to stack-up to kill the run all day long.  As a result, I think whether Hardesty is able to actually make things happens depends a great deal on whether the quarterback under center can play his role effectively.  If so, then I think that Tennessee’s backs should be more than strong enough to score some points.  If not, then the scores may be low—and the risk of injuries to the running backs great—as opposing defenses pound away at the Vols ground attack.

Still, I am hopeful and optimistic that running backs, now coached by Eddie Gran, are up to the challenge.

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Walking in Memphis: a Brief Reflection on Reality, Basketball, and Bruce Pearl…

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Then I’m walking in Memphis
Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel

• “>" href="http://gate21.net/2009/04/03/walking-in-memphis-a-brief-reflection-on-reality-basketball-and-bruce-pearl%e2%80%a6/#Walking_Memphis_audio" >Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn

Well, it seems that Bruce Pearl will be staying in Knoxville for the foreseeable future, which is good.  The question, however, remains: What are we to make of this “Memphis Incident”?

For starters, I am greatly relieved that Bruce Almighty will still be wearing orange next season.  That is the good news, not that there is necessarily some “bad” news, but keeping Pearl on the sidelines in Knoxville is definitely very good.

That said, what exactly are we to take away from the brief and furious flirtation (so brief and furious that I never even got a chance to comment before it ended) with the notion that Coach Pearl might bolt to the Pyramid City to take the reins as head coach of the Memphis Tigers?  The real answer is probably “nothing.”  Still there are a few thoughts that jump out to me—random observations, I suppose—which seem relevant, if less than timely.

Bruce Pearl is Happy at Tennessee…

It seems to me that Bruce Pearl sent two messages yesterday.  The first is a very positive one, namely that he is happy as coach of the Tennessee Volunteers and has no desire to leave behind what he has begun.  Bruce Pearl likes it here.

Why do I say that?  Well first of all is the obvious: he is staying here.  More importantly, however, is the what he said in his public statement last night.  To me, it makes it clear that Pearl is truly happy to be at Tennessee.

I truly love my job, and I want it to be clear that I’m not interested in any other job.  There’s no place in the country I’d rather be than the University of Tennessee.  My children are happy here in the Knoxville community—one is in high school, one is in middle school and two are currently attending the university.

My staff and I are building a consistent top-25 program and I’m honored and privileged to serve the greatest fans in the country. Tennessee has all the resources necessary to win championships, from our recently upgraded facilities to our ability to schedule.

It’s great to be a Tennessee Vol!

Bruce Pearl commenting on rumors of him leaving Tennessee | UT Sports.com

Now in the era of sports double-talk and lip service (See Bobby Petrino at any point in his career), it is rarely advisable to take public professions of loyalty at face value.  I understand that.  Still, there are different degrees of lip service and there are different types of coaches.  Pearl’s statement was anything but tepid—it was largely unequivocal and pointed.  In other words, he could have simply said “I’m staying,” and left the other assurances out of the discussion; he didn’t.

Second of all, for reasons unknown to me (considering I have never met Pearl), I trust the man.  Maybe that owes to the side of him that exudes infectious enthusiasm about everything to which he is tied; maybe it is because of his well documented history of loyalty at Iowa and Wisconsin-Green Bay; maybe it is because he is a con man and I’m snowed.  Regardless of the reasons, Pearl is unique in my mind because I do believe that he is both loyal and trustworthy as a coach.  My gut tells me that if he was not happy and was considering a move, while he might not come out and say it, he would similarly not effervesce about how much he loves it at Tennessee.

Furthermore, if he had wanted to leave, it would have been hard to argue with his decision given the suggestion that Memphis was prepared to offer up to $ 3.25 million a year (approximately $ 1.25 million more per year than his new contract is reported to provide).

Thus, I believe him when he says that he never intended to leave, and that he truly loves coaching the BasketVolsIf he truly wanted to leave, he would have.

Yeah, yeah, I know—I’ve obviously been drinking the Kool Aid…

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From One Rival To Another?

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

It’s finally a done deal. The delusion is going to be at an all-time high – and for Kentucky basketball fans, that’s saying quite a lot…

UNRELATED YET IMPORTANT UPDATE (1:20 p.m., March 31st): Georgia still needs a coach, and is trying to get Missouri’s Mike Anderson. I don’t see why Anderson, who’s also rumored in the potential replacing of Calipari at Memphis, would go to Georgia, but who knows. Calipari, Donovan, Pearl, Anderson, Stallings and Horn in the same division next year? Wow.

UPDATE 2 (12:15 p.m., March 31st): This little bit is just too interesting and kinda funny to pass up, from Geoff Calkins at the Commercial Appeal. Interesting because it’s not 110% believable and funny because the particular donut shop was/is a cool hangout place for my friends and I in high school and now over breaks and the like (after 11 p.m. you can get half a dozen donuts for $1).

UPDATE (6:25 p.m.): ESPN is now getting in on the fun, saying the reported deal is for 8 years at $35 million – still over the $4 million mark.

If you’ve been just about anywhere on the internet on a sports website today, you’ve probably seen the John Calipari-to-Kentucky news. It’s to the point now where it’s all but official

Some major sites like USA Today and SI.com are coming out in the last hour or so and saying the same thing. Good ol’ Channel 5 in Memphis says it’s a done deal, and the Tigers’ Rivals site says so as well. Interestingly, in that article, it says Kentucky is paying Calipari $40 million over six years. For those of us not good at math, that’s, oh, $6.67 million PER YEAR. I heard on the Sports Animal here in Knoxville about an hour ago Jimmy Hyams say he heard the same information in talking with Ron Higgins, who’s with the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

For comparison sake, Pete Carroll at USC and Nick Saban at Alabama make $4 million a year, give-or-take. Florida coach Billy Donovan is the nation’s highest-paid basketball coach at roughly $3.5 million.

Hey, can you blame me for turning down $6 million a year?

Again, I have seen nothing official on this as of 5 p.m. Eastern, so if this turns out to not be true, then all this commentary is obviously irrelevant.

Now this is not Tennessee news, but it’s certainly Tennessee-related and I would even say I care more than most being from Memphis and having the disdain for both the Memphis and Kentucky programs that I do. You have a coach that’s easy for us Vols to dislike, going from the in-state rival – and a rivalry that’s grown into one of the bigger basketball rivalries for Tennessee and Memphis the past four years – to the historic conference rival in big, bad Kentucky – one that at least has become much more competitive recently (thank you Bruce Pearl).

For me, it’s more reason to hate Kentucky. Yes, hate is a strong word. But much like the case with Alabama, Florida and Georgia in anything, if Kentucky lost every basketball game for their rest of time, I would enjoy it. Seeing them in the NIT and reading the thoughts of the crazier side of their fanbase on Rupps Rafters talk about being in the NIT? Loved it. Likewise, seeing Missouri eliminate the Tigers in the Sweet 16 last Thursday was enjoyable for me.

Now throw in Mr. Calipari, who’s dislike of and disrespectful attitude toward Tennessee and Pearl was a major reason for my dislike of the Tigers, joins Kentucky. As if they shouldn’t already be, you have to put Kentucky now as Tennessee’s biggest basketball rival now, right?

I don’t see much of a change recruiting-wise. The Memphis-area will still be hard for the Vols to recruit, like it is for both football and basketball. Calipari recruited nationally at Memphis (not many players from Memphis on the roster), and he will do that at Kentucky as well. So that doesn’t change.

And finally, I’ve read that Tennessee needs Kentucky to be good, because a strong Kentucky makes the SEC look stronger and more respected. I think that’s garbage. Kentucky is a rival. How can anything that’s good for them – and this is certainly excellent for the Wildcats – be good for Tennessee? If Tennessee keeps playing a tough schedule and wins 25 games and sweeps the SEC regular season and tournament titles in a given year, they’re going to get a high seed regardless of Kentucky or the rest of the league. (Signed, Memphis and C-USA).

On one hand, this hire by UK is scary – Calipari was their ultimate dream hire, and his recruiting ability and style has much more of a probability of success than failure. On the other hand, I say bring it. Bruce Pearl vs. John Calipari twice a year (or more) now? I can go for that…

About Home Sweet Home... … to me.


Images Courtesy of: AP/ Daylife

Is Billy Clyde out at Kentucky?


update» Updated: 27 March 2009 — 4:25pm

Apparently, Gillispie’s firing became official about 5 minutes after I posted this.  At least I was a little bit ahead of the curve…

update» Updated: 27 March 2009 — 4:42pm

Now, as his comment below points out, HSH has discovered an even more interesting development: perhaps Billy Donovan is going to Kentucky.


Well, friends and neighbors, it’s not like it is unexpected, but it appears that Billy Gillispie is out at Kentucky.  This comes from WHAS TV in Louisville.  Seemingly in response to this report, the Kentucky athletic department issued a public statement which—paraphrased—amounts to their complete refusal to make a public statement.  It read,  “UK mens basketball coach Billy Gillispie has not been fired. There have been no meetings between Gillispie and UK officials today and there is no scheduled press conference tomorrow.

I think a simple “no comment” would have sufficed.

Either way, this does seriously change the dynamic in the SEC East.  Hooper over at RTT has an interesting article on why this prospect scares him as a fan of SEC and Tennessee basketball.  The uncertainty at Kentucky will definitely add confusion to recruiting, but what if Kentucky actually gets a “good” coach?  With rumors flying about as to who will replace Gillispie, it stands to reason that Kentucky Mitch Barnhart will be trying to save his neck by getting a coach who is a little better fit for the Wildcats this time around than was Billy Clyde.  According to the guys at Team Speed Kills, however, that new coach will not be Billy Donovan (or will it?).

In the meantime, I suppose we will all be guessing…

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