Auburn fans have been dreaming of "Bruce Pearl, Auburn basketball coach," and on Tuesday, that dream became a reality. The school officially announced the hiring of the former Tennessee coach to take over the hoops program. After bringing in Gus Malzahn for football, Sunny Golloway for baseball and Clint Myers for softball, it's the fourth straight home run hire for athletic director Jay Jacobs.
"From the moment I met Coach Pearl and heard his vision for our basketball program, it was clear he's the right man at the right time for Auburn," Jacobs said in an official release.
"Coach Pearl is a proven winner who will bring energy and excitement to our program. We have raised the bar for Auburn basketball, and I could not be more excited for our student-athletes and our future under Coach Pearl's leadership. I know he agrees with me -- it's time to win."
Jacobs made it clear after the 2012-13 basketball season that hardwood failure was no longer an option. He said at the time that Barbee needed to show him results, and after a 14-16 campaign with a 6-12 record in the SEC, plus a fourth straight first-round loss in the conference tournament, the AD decided it was time to make a move. While Pearl had long been the No. 1 target for many fans, it was hard to imagine the Tigers actually landing him. But Jacobs worked quickly and got the job done.
"I'm humbled and blessed to back in the game that I love," Pearl said in the release. "I don't know how long it will take, but it's time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy."
Believing that anything can automatically take Auburn basketball back to relevancy is difficult, but if there's a sure thing out there, Pearl is it. In 19 seasons as a head coach, he's compiled a 231-99 record overall. In six years at Tennessee, he was 145-61 with a 65-31 mark in SEC play. The Volunteers went to the NCAA Tournament in each of those seasons, and made two trips to the Sweet 16 and one Elite Eight appearance. Tennessee won the SEC regular-season title in 2007-08. At Southern Indiana, Pearl won the Division II national title in 1995.
Auburn hasn't been to the Big Dance since 2003. There's a great chance Pearl is going to be the man to end that drought.