Auburn basketball's coaching search is still less than a week old, but the Tigers may be getting closer to making a hire. And if reports are true, it could be a big one: Former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl appears to be on the verge of getting the job.
Pearl and Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs met Monday night, according to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, and is giving the job serious consideration. A source told CBS Sports' Gary Parish that the job is Pearl's "if he wants it." Assistant athletic director Dave Didion, who the lead investigator in the coach's NCAA case three years ago, has passed off on making the hire, per Joel A. Erickson of al.com.
Add it all up, and it sounds like Auburn really is on the verge of making a home run -- nay, grand slam -- hire.
All the reports and the fast timing of everything involved in this search make perfect sense. Pearl is a guy who's been out of a job since 2011, so once Jacobs decided he was ready to end the Tony Barbee era, he was likely able to immediately gauge the ex-Vol's interest. With interest obviously there. the AD relieved Barbee of his duties shortly after the Tigers' loss in the first round of the SEC Tournament, quickly making the job available for someone who might already be available to take it, not a coach who is still competing.
After the firing, some pundits asked, "Why not do the decent thing and wait until the next day or two to get rid of Barbee?" The reason: Jacobs had his man in mind, a man who would be the No. 1 target of every coaching search in the country, and he wanted to get the jump on reeling him in.
Nothing is a done deal, and anything that is "on the verge of happening" could still fall apart. But, the possibility of hiring Pearl looks a lot more realistic than it did a couple of weeks ago.