AD Jacobs delivers Pearl to Auburn, new coach delivers pizzas to - WSET.com - ABC13

AD Jacobs delivers Pearl to Auburn, new coach delivers pizzas to students

Posted: Updated:
Bruce Pearl, former coach of Tennessee, waives to fans after exiting the plane at the Auburn Regional Airport in Auburn, Ala., on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Opelika-Auburn News, Albert Cesare) Bruce Pearl, former coach of Tennessee, waives to fans after exiting the plane at the Auburn Regional Airport in Auburn, Ala., on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Opelika-Auburn News, Albert Cesare)

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — New Auburn coach Bruce Pearl wasted no time making an impression— and some bold promises.

The former Tennessee coach sprung for pizza for several hundred students Tuesday a few hours after arriving in town, some of whom took selfies posing next to him. Then he told a couple thousand fans at Auburn Arena: "We will play for championships."

"We're fixing to get Auburn into that position where we'll be going to the NCAA tournament," he said, adding that he wanted to be the winningest coach in program history.

Before stepping away from the podium, he proclaimed: "I'm baack." Then Auburn fans sang Happy Birthday to Pearl, who turned 54 on Tuesday and suggested they celebrate at the NCAA tournament next year.

The Tigers turned to Pearl to revive a struggling basketball program that hasn't made that field since 2003, causing quite a splash in a football-mad state. Athletic director Jay Jacobs landed his top target with a 6-year deal starting at $2.2 million annually, less than a week after firing Tony Barbee. They first spoke at the ESPN studio where Pearl had been working last Friday night.

Pearl will receive $100,000 raise each year and will owe Auburn $5 million if he leaves in the next two years, Jacobs said. It made the $2,100 tab for pizza easy to swallow.

Pearl remains under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA barring him from recruiting until Aug. 23. Auburn has 30 days to accept or contest the penalty, and Jacobs said the school hasn't decided how to handle that yet.

Pearl had plenty of success on the court, taking Tennessee to the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons before getting fired in March 2011 in the wake of an NCAA investigation.

Jacobs said he believes Pearl "has learned from his mistake." Pearl repeatedly talked about getting this second chance, and said he had heard from "a few schools" but was prepared to have to wait until after the show-cause expired to land a job.

"I would not have gone this year had I not felt this was the right opportunity," Pearl said. "I was prepared to not coach this year."

Pearl was greeted by 100-plus fans when he landed at the airport in Auburn. He jumped into a mosh pit of fans.

"I want this same reception when we come back with an SEC championship," he told them. Pearl charmed them again with football coach Gus Malzahn and two assistants — Tony Jones and son Steven Pearl — watching from the front row.

Jacobs said with the move "we have raised the bar for Auburn basketball." He addressed the off-the-court issues in an open letter posted on the school's Web site and again later, saying he wouldn't have hired Pearl if he didn't think the coach was remorseful.

"After looking at the case and talking to Coach Pearl face to face, I am convinced without a doubt that he has learned from his mistake," Jacobs wrote.

"I've thought about this a great deal, and obviously so has Coach Pearl. I believe people who are genuine and sincere deserve second chances. If I did not believe Coach Pearl's apologies were sincere and heartfelt, I would not have even considered him."

Pearl was cited for unethical conduct for lying to investigators in June 2010 about improperly hosting recruits at his home. He was placed under a three-year show-cause penalty

He also was found to have interfered with the NCAA's investigation after he contacted a recruit's father who had also been interviewed by investigators.

Two months after his initial interview, he met again with NCAA investigators to tell them he had misled them.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who Pearl describes as a friend, said he trusts that Auburn did "its due diligence throughout the hiring process."

"I was disappointed in the actions of coach Pearl that led to his suspension and ultimate dismissal, but he will soon complete the requirements of his NCAA penalties," Slive said. "I have every expectation that he has learned his lesson and will run Auburn's basketball program in accordance with these expectations."

Auburn hired former NCAA director of enforcement David Didion as an associate athletic director for compliance in April 2013.

Pearl, who is 231-99 in Division I, has been working in private business in Knoxville, Tenn., and for ESPN. He has led eight of his 10 Division I teams to the NCAA tournament, including twice in four seasons at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and led Division II Southern Indiana to a national title in 1995.

Pearl led the Volunteers to the Sweet Sixteen four times and they made the Elite Eight in 2010.

Pearl inherited a Tennessee team that went 14-17 and lost its top two scorers, and took the Vols to a 22-8 record in his debut season, 2005-06.

Only North Carolina's Roy Williams reached 300 career wins faster among NCAA coaches.

The last seven Auburn coaches have left with losing marks in the league, dating back to the Joel Eaves era from 1949-63. Pearl takes over a team that went 14-16 and loses three starters, including leading scorer Chris Denson.

That didn't take away from his joy of being "baack."

"I'm truly humbled and I'm blessed to have this opportunity," Pearl said. "It's been a long three years being away from the game. One of the things that I just want to tell you is as a coach and even as a father, when I made the mistakes I made at Tennessee, I let a lot of people down.

"That's why I still walk around with pain."

Follow John Zenor on Twitter @jzenor

  • UAB SportsMore>>

  • UAB cruises to 48-10 win over Troy in season opener

    UAB cruises to 48-10 win over Troy in season opener

    Saturday, August 30 2014 10:29 PM EDT2014-08-31 02:29:34 GMT
    Cody Clements passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, while Jordan Howard rushed for two more in helping the University of Alabama-Birmingham beat Troy University 48-10 on Saturday.
    Cody Clements passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, while Jordan Howard rushed for two more in helping the University of Alabama-Birmingham beat Troy University 48-10 on Saturday.
  • Fans ready for start of football season

    Fans ready for start of football season

    Thursday, August 28 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-08-28 11:45:46 GMT
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.
  • UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 3:13 PM EDT2014-08-26 19:13:29 GMT
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.
  • All other Local CollegesMore>>

  • Samford loses to TCU, 48-14

    Samford loses to TCU, 48-14

    Sunday, August 31 2014 1:10 AM EDT2014-08-31 05:10:40 GMT
    Samford loses its season opener on the road to TCU...
    Samford loses its season opener on the road to TCU...
  • Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 2:59 PM EDT2014-08-27 18:59:15 GMT
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...
  • No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:54:33 GMT
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Health Department urges Fairfield not to weaken it's smoking ordinance

    Health Department urges Fairfield not to weaken it's smoking ordinance

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 11:17 PM EDT2014-09-03 03:17:35 GMT
    Fairfield city leaders are battling over their smoking rules. They're trying to decide whether to keep to current restrictions or weaken the ordinance. 
    Fairfield city leaders are battling over their smoking rules. They're trying to decide whether to keep to current restrictions or weaken the ordinance. 
  • Family, friends remember Birmingham man who died while doing plumbing work underground; OSHA investigating

    Family, friends remember Birmingham man who died while doing plumbing work underground; OSHA investigating

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 9:35 PM EDT2014-09-03 01:35:56 GMT
    LaDonte McCruter was digging a hole on 24th Street SW near Mayfield Avenue just before the dirt caved in around him, trapping him and eventually causing his death.
    LaDonte McCruter was digging a hole on 24th Street SW near Mayfield Avenue just before the dirt caved in around him, trapping him and eventually causing his death.
  • John Carroll to head Ethics Commission

    John Carroll to head Ethics Commission

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:57 PM EDT2014-09-03 00:57:28 GMT
    Former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll will serve as acting director of the State Ethics Commission beginning Oct. 1.Ethics Commission Chairman Ed Crowell announced Tuesday that Carroll will fill in when Director Jim Sumer retires Oct. 1 after being the commission's top staff member for 17 years. Crowell says Carroll will not be a candidate for the permanent position. The commission is accepting applications for the permanent position.Carroll spent 13 years as dean of the Cumberland L...
    Former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll will serve as acting director of the State Ethics Commission beginning Oct. 1.Ethics Commission Chairman Ed Crowell announced Tuesday that Carroll will fill in when Director Jim Sumer retires Oct. 1 after being the commission's top staff member for 17 years. Crowell says Carroll will not be a candidate for the permanent position. The commission is accepting applications for the permanent position.Carroll spent 13 years as dean of the Cumberland L...
  • Mother of Fairfield boy who was abducted sends email defending her character, lashes out at parents

    Mother of Fairfield boy who was abducted sends email defending her character, lashes out at parents

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:51 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:51:03 GMT
    The mother of the 9-year-old boy who police say was taken from his Fairfield home says her son was never in danger.
    The mother of the 9-year-old boy who police say was taken from his Fairfield home says her son was never in danger.
  • Deputies in Etowah County arrest three women for chemical endangerment

    Deputies in Etowah County arrest three women for chemical endangerment

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:47 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:47:56 GMT
    The Etowah County sheriff's office arrested three women for chemical endangerment of a child. Investigators charged 28-year-old Ashton Lauren Wood, 25-year-old Jessica Amber Abner and 24-year-old Keeley Elizabeth McCain. Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeremy Lasseter say Wood and her baby both tested positive for amphetamines following the baby's birth. Her bond is set at $10,000. Wood will be supervised by Community corrections and must comply with DHR requirements. She will not be allowed to make ...
    The Etowah County sheriff's office arrested three women for chemical endangerment of a child. Investigators charged 28-year-old Ashton Lauren Wood, 25-year-old Jessica Amber Abner and 24-year-old Keeley Elizabeth McCain. Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeremy Lasseter say Wood and her baby both tested positive for amphetamines following the baby's birth. Her bond is set at $10,000. Wood will be supervised by Community corrections and must comply with DHR requirements. She will not be allowed to make ...
  • 30 teens escape from Nashville detention center

    30 teens escape from Nashville detention center

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:31 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:31:54 GMT
    A spokesman says more than 30 teens escaped from a Nashville youth detention center and 17 are still being sought.
    Thirty teens "overwhelmed" their minders at a juvenile detention center by simultaneously breaking out of four dormitories and then crawling under a weak spot in a chain-link fence. By Tuesday evening, seven were still on...
  • Bessemer mayor calls challenger’s request for recount "sour grapes"

    Bessemer mayor calls challenger’s request for recount "sour grapes"

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:18 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:18:37 GMT
    Bessemer's mayoral race is not over. Challenger Anthony Underwood lost to incumbent Mayor Kenneth Gulley by more than a thousand votes. But, Underwood believes the voting process was so flawed. He requested a recount.
    Bessemer's mayoral race is not over. Challenger Anthony Underwood lost to incumbent Mayor Kenneth Gulley by more than a thousand votes. But, Underwood believes the voting process was so flawed. He requested a recount.
  • College football games reportedly seen on digital billboard in Birmingham

    College football games reportedly seen on digital billboard in Birmingham

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:15 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:15:57 GMT
    Distracted driving comes in many forms:  texting, eating and now watching football from a billboard. This past Saturday, some of our viewers and Facebook friends say they saw football plays and scores and they drove past a digital billboard on I-65 through downtown.
    Distracted driving comes in many forms:  texting, eating and now watching football from a billboard. This past Saturday, some of our viewers and Facebook friends say they saw football plays and scores and they drove past a digital billboard on I-65 through downtown.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSET. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.