My opinion on the Bruce Pearl situation.
It's been a tumultuous week for the University of Tennessee and its men's basketball program.
After a rather generous ninth seed from the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee last Sunday, the week got off to a rocky start on Tuesday when athletic director Mike Hamilton directly contradicted his staunch position of the last several months and stated that Tennessee head coach, Bruce Pearl, was not guaranteed to return next season.
From there things began to get even rockier as rumors began to swirl that Bruce was all but a lock to be fired win, lose, or draw after Friday's opening round matchup with Michigan.
Friday an obviously distracted Vol squad went out and got absolutely demolished, losing the aforementioned matchup by a staggering 30 points.
And now backroom conversations and meetings seem to indicate that Bruce's upheaval is all but a done deal.
Throughout the week, I've had UT fans, as well as fans of other programs for that matter, asking me if I thought Bruce Pearl should be fired. I've also seen a plethora of online polls posing similar questions and the consistent answer that Vol Nation seems to be voicing is a resounding no.
However, all these questions seem to be so cut and dry that I feel the need to explain how the situation realistically should play out.
If you were to ask me if I think Bruce Pearl should be fired, my answer would be no. However, that's not a question that encompasses everything that is going on.
Earlier my colleague, Joel Barker, wrote an article that detailed a rumor of an ultimatum issued by the NCAA. It basically stated, if you keep Bruce Pearl we are going to drop the hammer down. If you fire Bruce Pearl, then you are going to get off with little more than a slap on the wrist.
If these rumors are true --which I happen to believe that they are because it explains a great deal of what has transpired in the past week-- then people need to start understanding the possible ramifications of the hypothetical stipulations.
You simply CANNOT afford to lose four scholarships over two years, lose your coaching staff for two years, and be banned from the postseason for a year. It would be CRIPPLING to the program.
So, when you factor in the possibility of such a penalty, now you have to realize why the question of whether or not Pearl SHOULD (should being the operative word) be fired simply doesn't cut it.
In my opinion, Bruce Pearl SHOULD not be fired. He has meant too much to the program and has essentially built a top 20 program from scratch.
However, that's not the question people SHOULD be asking. The question should be, "Is it best for the University of Tennessee if Bruce Pearl is fired?"
And the answer, if the rumors of this ultimatum are true, is an undoubted yes.
I feel like there are a lot of people out there blindly supporting Bruce for what he has done, but not realizing that it could seriously hurt this program and ultimately this school.
Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move on.
You think it didn't hurt when Indiana had to can Bobby Knight? That man made that program into a powerhouse, but at the end of the day his transgressions were going to wind up coming back to scar that university.
So they moved on.
I love Bruce Pearl, and if the NCAA sanctions were going to be the same or even remotely similar, I would be an ardent supporter. But the circumstances have changed, and unfortunately it's time to move on.