Mike Slive wanted Bruce Pearl back in the SEC. After all of the fallout, all of the mistrust, the lack of cooperation, why would the commissioner want such a thing? Well, if you've paid any attention to basketball this offseason -- or basketball this weekend, for that matter -- then you'd clearly understand why. Pearl is polarizing, Pearl can sell a program, and better-yet, Pearl can improve this conference.
"Bruce is an energetic guy who brings a lot of enthusiasm," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "He and I have had our moments. I think you all are aware. I think there is a lot of excitement that he is back in the league by the folks at Auburn."
In 2008 and 2010, Bruce Pearl turned in the 12th- and 11th-ranked recruiting classes, respectively, at Tennessee. What did Tennessee have to offer? Let's just say more than Auburn seems to have. Compared to Auburn's eight, Tennessee has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 20 times. Compared to Auburn's four sweet 16's, Tennessee has seven. So, it would be tougher for Pearl to emulate that success at Auburn, right? So far, wrong.
Two nights ago, Pearl's NCAA-sanctioned show-cause suspension ended. Since then, he's signed two top-75 recruits, Danjel Purifoy (ranked 50th in the ESPN top-100) and Horace Spencer (ranked 75th in the ESPN top-100). When it comes to athletic talent in the class of 2015, you'll be hard-pressed to find two more qualified prospects ready to revive and rebrand a program.
From 2010 to 2014 Auburn reeled in two total top 100 players. Bruce Pearl secured two in the past three days. Just the start.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) August 24, 2014
You might be asking, what about Auburn basketball could even be intriguing? Four years ago, the $86 million Auburn Arena was built. Last year, Auburn's football team garnered two victories that simply were unfathomable, so there's the football program. And the success of the school due to it's beautiful campus and ability to involve the students is almost unmatched.
So for Bruce Pearl, foreshadowing this success (this early) was probably a bit less far-fetched than you and I imagined. With the university's success and the fact that Pearl has made professional players out of Scotty Hopson and Wayne Chism as well as made the Elite 8, this all seems realistic -- but then again, if he gets Malik Newman, we'll all be shocked.
The Southeastern Conference has the Kentucky's and the Florida's, but behind that, the SEC is waiting for Auburn's and LSU's to step up. And due to Bruce Pearl, it will be Auburn, it will be the orange and blue. And the school on the plains will have the best football-basketball coaching duo in the country. Sorry, Alabama fans.