What might’ve been, and what may be for Bruce Pearl

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Bruce Pearl won’t be on an NCAA sideline anytime soon. Perhaps not ever again.

The former Tennessee coach reportedly will received a three-year show cause penalty for multiple NCAA violations and later lying to the NCAA. His three assistants, Tony Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes, all reportedly will received one-year penalties.

Why the harsh sentence? Mike Vorkunov from the New Jersey Star-Ledger explains:

Pearl’s underlying crime, both of them minor violations, are not enough in and of themselves to earn a show cause penalty. It is the lying to the NCAA that has come to submarine Pearl. The organization has come to show that, perhaps above all else, it will not tolerate any kind of foul play in interaction with them. That’s why Pearl is getting hit so hard, because he lied straight to their faces.

Pearl’s mistakes have been well-chronicled (read this if you’ve forgotten), but the gist is this: The NCAA wants him out of the game. And despite his immense popularity and incredible success at Tennessee, the odds of him landing another high-profile job are slim.

It did the same to Kelvin Sampson, to Todd Bozeman and to Jim O’Brien. None of their careers have recovered.

Bozeman’s thriving at Morgan State, but a low-major school is a far cry from what he had at Cal. And the despite the Bears’ success, schools haven’t jumped at the chance to hire Bozeman. There’s a reason for that caution. O’Brien was just hired by Emerson college, seven years after Ohio State fired him.

Sampson headed to the NBA, which is where Pearl may very well end up. (He has a standing offer by a D-League team.) Pearl’s charm and coaching skill could earn him an NBA job, but it’s hard to envision Pearl out of the college scene. That’s his forte.

If he passes on the NBA and no high-major schools want him, he can always go back to his coaching roots. That Sweet 16 path worked once at Milwaukee. It could work again. (And Mike DeCourcy explains why it could happen sooner rather than later.)

Oh Bruce. Just think how different things might’ve been if you’d only told the truth.

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