Brought to you by our fine friend Ghost of Neyland from 3rd Saturday in Blogtober. Well worth the thought. --hooper
Wouldn't you know that I'd get a writer's block on the week I was supposed to help my good buddy, Joel, out on his fine blog?
Well, I don't have much in the way of topics, but I was posed a pretty good question yesterday by a fellow 3rdsaturdayinblogtober.wordpress.com blogger, Tide Fan in Tennessee. TFIT lives in the state, obviously, and is a huge Alabama fan. He gets raked through the coals by numerous Vols fans (me especially) for his undying love of Nick Saban. I like nothing more than giving Bammers the third degree about Saban worship. Especially after he went 7-6 last year and lost to Louisiana-Monroe. (I know they beat us, but that's beside the point ...)
Still, TFIT brought up a pretty good question that I tried to answer truthfully, but it got me thinking: Why do Tennessee fans treat Bruce Pearl with the reverence reserved for legendary coaches? What, really, has he done? "The only difference between Pearl and Saban," TFIT said, "is Saban has a championship."
I quickly corrected him that Pearl had one at Southern Indiana, but the question remains. My answer was that we'd just never, ever, ever been anything in basketball. To simply be relevant means everything to us, and it's good to be Pearl because the expectations have never been high at UT for the basketball program ... until this year. We always feel we're going to be coached up and that Pearl is always going to make quality decisions. I told TFIT that I would love to get to the days where we skewer Pearl for not winning championships, but right now, we're happy to be in the picture. I made the mistake of saying "Bruce Pearl is like Tennessee basketball's Bear Bryant."
He gave it to me for that one, boy did he ever. In retrospect, I see his argument. Bryant restored Bama football to the powerhouse it had been in the past and took it to a completely different level. Pearl, well, Pearl didn't restore anything. He's creating it. The only success UT's basketball program had was during the Ray Mears years, and it wasn't sustained. TFIT argued a better comparison for Pearl would be what Steve Spurrier did at Florida. I like that comparison a lot better. He's a very good arguer.
Still, it was an excellent question, even if it did get me riled up. I want to pose the same question for you readers: Why do we treat Pearl with that sort of reverence already?
This could turn into a really good discussion ... or a Pearl lovefest. Either way, I'm happy to support it.