At midnight on the night of 24 August 2014, Bruce Pearl's long nightmare ended. The embattled coach's NCAA show-cause related to an NCAA infractions incident while he was the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers came to a close. He is now free to contact and host recruits.
Since taking over the Auburn job on 18 March, Auburn basketball ball has seen a large increase in its recruiting. Just Friday evening Auburn landed a big-time recruit in Danjel Purifoy. While nothing to sneeze at in terms of the national landscape, Auburn has landed some prospects since Pearl's hire that were not showing much to any interest in the Tigers previously. All of that has been a huge credit to Pearl's staff since Pearl has not been allowed to speak with any of these individuals himself before they signed with Auburn. Pearl has gone so far as to leave town when recruits visit in order to avoid any impropriety and this has cost Auburn some recruits they might otherwise have landed.
All of that ended tonight, and it ended in a big way. Horace Spencer, a 4* power forward according to 247sports stated his intentions to walk into the Auburn basketball offices as soon as the show-cause ended so that he could speak with Pearl.
Auburn fans have shown that they will show up in droves to support winning basketball. Long-suffering fans of the Tigers' basketball program can remember the days of Charles Barkley and current Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person when the team made some NCAA runs. They remember 1999 and the excitement around the program and a packed and loud Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Auburn fans have been hungering for new reason to cheer for the basketball Tigers in beautiful Auburn Arena. Bruce Pearl, without having coached a game, has already given fans excitement they've been longing for.
They showed up at the airport to cheer his arrival. His initial press conference was a huge success and ticket sales for Auburn basketball have sky-rocketed. Tonight, as his show-cause ended, Auburn students showed up in force to cheer on their basketball coach as he is finally unleashed to fully do what he loves: recruit and coach basketball.
Coach Pearl with students pic.twitter.com/Qdz82JFXhV— College and Magnolia (@CollegeAndMag) August 24, 2014
Coach Pearl arrives and speaks to students:
Coach Pearl gave a tearful greeting to the students who assembled to meet him upon his arrival to Auburn Arena saying "I'm grateful. I'm humbled and blessed to be your coach. We're going to have a lot of fun. I'm sorry about being emotional, but you know, it's what I've always done my whole life is coach and teach, and I think that's what God wants me to do." He joked about his NCAA infractions and seemed genuinely humbled and excited to be at Auburn, shaking the hand of every person gathered to greet him with tears in his eyes.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vMUmdI1PpwQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Coach Pearl celebrates the end of the show-cause with the basketball team:
Who knows how things will go on the court when the first basketball is tipped? Bruce Pearl's track record indicates that it will likely go much better than the most recent seasons. What's amazing is the level of enthusiasm that has sprung up around basketball at a school known best for its football prowess. And one week away from the start of Gus Malzahn's second season as head football coach at Auburn, students are going crazy for basketball. After the doldrums of the 2012 football season and the Tony Barbee era in basketball, the turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable. It's an exciting time to be an Auburn fan.