This time of the year has to be one of the most interesting. Not only do you have the NCAA Tournament going on, but you have several coaching changes happening over the next few weeks. Right now, there are openings with Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, but most notably with the UCLA Bruins.
Alabama was one of the first schools to landed their head coach within days of firing Avery Johnson by hiring former Buffalo head coach Nate Oats and end their coaching search in a hurry.
You hear several names out there for different openings like Houston’s Kelvin Sampson, Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams, former Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, Chris Beard at Texas Tech, and yes, even Rick Pitino. All of these are respected names in the game (well, except Pitino), but one name not brought up much, but maybe should be, is Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl.
Pearl turned Auburn basketball around over the last couple of years. As head coach of the Tigers, Pearl is closing in on 100 wins in only five seasons, won an SEC regular season championship last year and the SEC Tournament title the following year.
Love him or hate him, Pearl has been successful everywhere he’s been, so you have to believe the only reason he hasn’t had a call yet is because his team is playing deep into March Madness with a berth in the Elite Eight, the program’s first since 1986.
Another reason he may not get a call is because of his past woes with the NCAA. Pearl got in trouble a few years ago about having a cookout with some recruits, and he then lied about it to the NCAA. He also had two assistant coaches get in trouble with the NCAA as well, which is surely a red flag for any school looking at him, but he may be worth a shot.
One school that may be willing to take a shot is UCLA. Berry Tramel of NewsOK suggested Pearl maybe a fit with the Bruins. Tramel has Pearl on his list on possible candidates UCLA may be looking for to become their next head coach.
“Auburn took a flier on the scandal-stained Pearl and has been rewarded big-time,” Tramel points out. “These are troubled times for college basketball, and hiring a coach with a checkered past won’t be looked on kindly at a place like UCLA, but what if the Bruins are desperate?”
Whatever happens, one thing is certain: don’t be surprised if the Auburn head coach got a few phone calls in the near future.