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Bruce Pearl: Life After Coaching

1:31 AM, Nov 14, 2012   |    comments
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It's been a year and a half since Bruce Pearl was fired from the Tennessee basketball team.

Pearl was caught lying to the NCAA during an investigation into a recruiting visit.

"It's ok. I'm the former men's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, and that's how I remember it. And I hope more and more people as time goes on remember it for what it was, not just how it ended."

Pearl is now the Vice President of Marketing for H.T. Hackney.

"The best thing about going to work for Hackney is that I have 30 warehouses, 22 states, 400 salesmen. It's sort of my new team. We compete. We put stuff in grocery stores."

While Pearl isn't marketing his new team by painting his chest, he still approaches it with the same enthusiam.

"I do what I did in coaching. I get up early. I work hard. I try to do the best I can, and I try to lead by example."

More than a year removed from the sport, Pearl's getting back in the game. Not on the sidelines, but in the studio. Pearl is an analyst for ESPN. He made his debut just this past Friday.

"I think preparation is the hardest part. You know I can prepare my team against my opponent. But now I have to know the top 25. I've got to know the top six conferences.

"Here's the thing: When I left the game, I always knew how we did. When I lost, sometimes I thought we did well. Sometimes when we won I knew we didn't do very well. So after I do a broadcast I'm not sure whether I won or not." 

But he admits, being near the sport he coached for 28 years is a bit bittersweet.

"That's been the hardest part. Hackney has been an unbelievably safe place in my heart, because I could get away from basketball because I miss it. So now that I'm back in it, it's really been very troubling. It's been hard on my heart. It just has."

But ultimately, if he wanted to coach, he could. Pearl had an offer from the Texas Legends. The deal would have made him the highest paid coach in the NBA D-League.

He chose family over career.

"You know I've not looked back on that decision with one single regret. Because coaching was something that I did and maybe that's where God wanted me, but it didn't identify me. I want other things to be able to identify me other than the fact that I could coach basketball."

In talking to him, you can see he's still got the coaching bug in him. Afterall, his voicemail still says "This is Coach Bruce Pearl".

"It says Coach Bruce Pearl because I changed it to Bruce Pearl and my mother called me back and she was very teary, and she said, 'You are Coach Bruce Pearl, you get that back on your voicemail because that's what you've done for your whole life.'"

But whether coaching is still in his future, that's a play he's yet to call.

'I don't know if coaching is in my future for sure. But I do know you have to continue to move forward. I'm blessed to be the VP of a $4 billion company. There's so much more blessing going on and I'm grateful."

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