Rocky Top Talk is reporting that, according to multiple sources, Bruce Pearl is out as Tennessee's head coach. The announcement isn't much of a surprise, as it comes at the tail end of many weeks of speculation about Pearl's likely ouster due to he and his staff's indiscretions, which have prompted an NCAA investigation. Although Tennessee fans seemed to largely support Pearl, the truth is that it would have been very, very difficult for the university to retain him given the nature of the offenses. The only question now is whether or not AD Mike Hamilton also gets the boot. Rocky Top Talk interestingly reports that Hamilton is not behind the Pearl decision, and when these kinds of decisions are being made above the AD's head, you have to wonder when the AD will be getting the ax, too.
For UT fans and Pearl, this has to be a bitter pill to swallow. Pearl is likely the most successful coach in UT basketball history, and his program's success assuaged the pain prompted by the vaunted UT football program's slide into irrelevancy in recent years. This was a match made in heaven for the two parties: UT finally got a quality basketball program, while Pearl got a place to coach after a long exile from the highest levels of the sport. The two took to each other extremely well and appeared set for a long run of success. That's over now. The saddest part of the situation is that while Pearl will be labeled a "cheater," his success appears to be largely legitimate. The violations Pearl committed were the kinds of minor mistakes that just about every coach in the country makes; the problem was that Pearl lied about them. If Pearl had just told the truth, there would likely be little to comment on right now.
For Carolina, obviously, this is great news. While we've yet to see who UT will tab to replace Pearl, it's hard to imagine them finding someone who is capable of equaling Pearl's success. That, as well as the possibility of sanctions stemming from the investigation, should give the Gamecocks a better chance of supplanting UT in the conference standings.