I'm typing this from a hotel room in Lexington, KY at 1:11 AM. It's a Holiday Inn Express, so you have to value my opinion.
I can't sleep. I'm excited about the game with Michigan tomorrow (today). My mind races with all the possibilities surrounding Bruce Pearl, especially the one where this is his last game and how much more likely that's become in such a short amount of time. And most of all, I am fully aware that this is a relevant, championship opportunity we have in front of us today...but if we lose, I don't know how long it's going to take before the next one comes around.
I'm not sure what would save Pearl at this point, or if any decision has already been made. Nor do I know what percentage of the decision lies in Mike Hamilton's hands.
I do know that I am absolutely terrified of being irrelevant in basketball again.
It's unfair to put any additional pressure on a group of players that have certainly been through it this season. No one should ask them to win one for Bruce Pearl, and in that locker room today I'm sure no one will.
But with all the twists and turns our roller coaster season has been through, and all the uncertainty we face in the future...the beauty of the NCAA Tournament remains in the present moment. All you have to do is win. Survive. Advance.
In the fury of the moment, the goal that these players had when they came to Tennessee is still alive today. We're dancing. We're in. Nothing else matters today except Michigan. This team can still leave its mark. All you have to do is win.
Today, Bruce Pearl is still the basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. All that matters is today. All he has to do is win.
And for us as fans...as afraid as I am of basketball ceasing to matter around here for the immediate future, it still matters today. We're here. We're in. Even if the end of an era is creeping in all around us, it's not here yet. This team can still matter. And this season is not over yet.
I'm suddenly very aware of how very much I want to win this game.
So let's win.
Today, we're with you Coach. We've always been with you. And today is all that matters.