Auburn hires Bruce Pearl as basketball coach - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Auburn hires Bruce Pearl as basketball coach

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AUBURN, Ala. -

Auburn football, baseball and softball have had their “new days.”

Now, it’s time for basketball.

Bruce Pearl was hired as the newest Auburn men’s basketball coach, replacing Tony Barbee just six days after Barbee was fired. The move was announced at 10:30 a.m. CT on Tuesday morning.

Pearl comes to Auburn after a three-year hiatus, during which he served and is currently serving an NCAA-imposed show-cause penalty for violations during his time at Tennessee.

Pearl lied to NCAA investigators in 2011 about a barbecue he hosted for recruits in 2008.

That eventually led to the end of his six-year career at Tennessee, where he led the Volunteers to the NCAA tournament every year, and the Elite Eight in 2010.

“I have found this part of the country to be a part of the country that offers grace,” said the Boston-native Pearl. “But for the grace of God, I would not be standing here today as your next men’s basketball coach, and I am truly grateful.”

He inherits a team that hasn’t won an SEC tournament game since 2009, and has not been to the NCAA tournament since 2003, the longest stretch of any team in the SEC. Pearl said it was those struggles that drew him to the job.

“I want to build my legacy here,” he said. “I’d like to try to be the winningest coach in the history of Auburn basketball.”

Auburn will be Pearl’s fourth stop. In the previous three—Southern Indiana, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Tennessee—his teams have experienced near-immediate success, something he attributes to the style of play he brings.

“We don’t play like everybody else,” Pearl said. “We don’t run the same offense that everybody runs, we don’t defend like everybody else, and so therefore, we’re a little unique, so our style of play is a little different. We want to be uncomfortable to play against.”

Pearl said he met with other Auburn coaches, including Gus Malzahn, who was in attendance Tuesday night.

“We probably won’t win the national championship next year,” Pearl said, in a nod to Malzahn’s lightning-fast turnaround of the football program. “But we’re going to work hard.”

The new coach didn’t give a timetable as to when he expected success, but did allude to the fact that there’s no excuse for it not to start soon.

“The players will not hear me say, ‘When we get our own players,’” Pearl said. “Those are my players right there, and I’m their coach.”

Pearl will be paid $2.2 million over the next six years.

“Jay (Jacobs) talked about raising the bar in men’s basketball,” Pearl said to open his comments. “Have you seen the contract I signed yet? When you see this number, he raised the bar in men’s basketball! I’m just keeping it real, ok?”

Jonathan Huskey

Jonathan comes to News 3 from Fort Smith/Fayetteville, Ark., where he anchored weekends and reported during the week on some of the best high school sports in the state. More>>

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