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Auburn Hires Bruce Pearl

The former Tennessee head coach is back in the game.

Kevin C. Cox

Auburn has made a move that's been speculated ever since Tony Barbee got the hook: it has hired Bruce Pearl to be its new head coach. You know it's a splashy move because the headline on its website literally says "Splash!"

Auburn hired Bruce Pearl as its new basketball coach Tuesday, bringing in a frequent visitor to the NCAA Tournament, a coach with SEC experience, a three-time national coach of the year and fan favorite. ...

"I'm humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love," Pearl said. "I don't know how long it will take, but it's time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy."

Pearl is still serving his three-year show cause penalty, which expires in August. It doesn't mean that he can't hold a job, as his hiring at Auburn demonstrates, it merely means a school must show cause to the NCAA why it should be able to employ him if it plans not to have sanctions applied to it and the coach. He will probably have some kind of penalties applied to him until the show cause runs out, but that doesn't mean a lot. Having a few offseason months of restrictions applied to Pearl is absolutely worth the longer term benefits of having him as the coach for a program in the depths like Auburn's.

Pearl took Tennessee to the tournament all six years he coached there before being fired. He also took the Vols past the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history with an Elite Eight run in 2010. Pearl got into trouble after he broke NCAA rules by having Aaron Craft and his family over to his house on an unofficial visit while Craft was a high school junior. That in and of itself wasn't a major violation, but he lied to the NCAA and told Craft's father to lie too. The lying is what got him his show cause and other penalties for three years.

Snagging Pearl is the kind of big name hire that Auburn basketball hasn't had since, well, just about ever. He has a lot of work to do to get Auburn up to where Tennessee was when he left, but the prospects for the program dramatically improved with this deal.