Saturday, January 22, 2011

Punxsutawney Pearl

Groundhog Day doesn’t officially come for another 10 days, but college basketball’s version will transpire this afternoon at the XL Center in Hartford.

After sitting out the last four games, Tennessee men’s coach Bruce Pearl will emerge, cast his rather large shadow on the sideline in the Volunteers’ 2 p.m. (CBS) showdown with UConn, then crawl back into his hole for four more games once today’s matchup is over.

Back in November, Pearl was suspended for the Vols’ first eight Southeastern Conference games by league commissioner Mike Slive for violating NCAA rules and misleading investigators. That came on top of the university’s self-imposed sanctions, which dock Pearl $1.5 million in salary over the next five years and banned him from participating in off-campus recruiting for a year.

However, smack dab in the middle of those first eight SEC games is the non-conference test with the eighth-ranked Huskies (15-2). Pearl admitted it’s a bit of an awkward situation and said he considered sitting out the UConn game, as well, but quickly figured doing so would serve no purpose.

(By the way: didn't Patrick Sellers and Beau Archibald get fired for lying to NCAA investigators? Count me as one who thinks Pearl got off fairly lightly).

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