As Tennessee lingers on the bubble again under head coach Cuonzo Martin and after a tough loss to Texas A&M, the fans in the state might be getting a little restless.
According to a report from Nick Cole of the Tennessean, former Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl was in Nashville to be apart of SportsFest, a fan-friendly event that had the old Volunteers coach as part of a Q&A. Pearl wore an orange and white shirt and said fans should support Tennessee and Martin, according to Cole and Pearl also told fans his thoughts on this year’s team.
“I think right now, today, Tennessee is in the tournament,” Pearl said to the fans, according to the report. “They played such a good nonconference schedule, and the win against Virginia gets better and better every time Virginia plays, and that serves them well.”
Then things started to get interesting. Fans started to ask about Pearl’s return to coaching after his clause ends and he can coach again in 2014-15. Then it turned to Pearl potentially returning to Tennessee and the crowd got into it:
Pearl declined to comment on the possibility of returning to coach at Tennessee, instead insisting he was happy with his job as an analyst and would consider any opportunity to become a coach when his show clause expires later this year.
“It’s going to be about the opportunity,” Pearl said. “And quite frankly, I will pray about it at the time and hope that God puts it in my heart that this is what I should do again.”
Radio personality Clay Travis grabbed a microphone shortly after Pearl fielded that question to make a plea of his own.
“I’m not God, but I’d like to put it in your heart to come back to Tennessee and take over our basketball program please,” Travis said. “Everybody here wants you back in Knoxville in an orange jacket.”
Travis’ comment was met with loud applause from the Vols fans.
I mean, wow. Those are some very interesting fan intereactions with Bruce Pearl, who is clearly still loved by a segment of the Volunteer fanbase. With Cuonzo Martin struggling and the charismatic Peal returning to coaching next season some fans will ask for Pearl’s return but its also unfair to count out this season’s Tennessee team with the talent they have in place.
So is this a small — but vocal — segment of the Tennessee fanbase or is the preference to return to Bruce Pearl.