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Someone identified as Mr. Jason Robinson of Kentucky was the 36,069th – and final – entry on the Bring Back Bruce petition before it became moot.

All you zealots can give it a rest now. It's over. The Bring Back Bruce movement – whose sole goal was the return of Bruce Pearl as Tennessee's basketball coach — has been rendered null and void by his hiring at Auburn.

Never mind that Pearl was not coming back to UT. In the weeks before his firing as Vols coach on March 22, 2011, he burned too many bridges. Those who trumpet Pearl's successes conveniently forget his failings. Besides, when you get fired and placed on a three-year show-cause penalty for lying to NCAA investigators, you can't go back to the scene of the crime.

Of course, logic was never part of this argument. The Pearl promoters came off like petulant children, screaming at the top of their lungs that they wanted Bruce back in orange and wouldn't stop crying until it happened. Among other things, they used the Bring Back Bruce petition as proof of a supposed groundswell of support.

This just in: On-line petitions aren't worth the paper they're not printed on.

Now, a former UT coach is the new Auburn coach. Moving forward, Pearl's hiring has an impact on a number of fronts.

For Pearl, this is a challenge even more daunting than the one he faced at Tennessee in the spring of 2005. Auburn hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2003, the longest current drought in the SEC. Even with a new arena, the Tigers averaged only 5,823 in home attendance this season, next-to-last in the conference.

For Auburn, it is a risk/reward gamble that Pearl has learned from his mistakes and will make Tigers basketball relevant again.

For SEC basketball, it is a needed shot in the arm. Regardless of his base of operations, Pearl is good for business. He's a salesman. He's colorful. He is a strong recruiter and coaches an exciting style. He is a proven winner.

For UT, it means … nothing. Those who think this changes the evaluation of Cuonzo Martin are off base. Those charged with making the decision on Martin's future as Vols coach never factored Pearl into the equation. Martin's status was not affected in the least by the events of Tuesday.

But why Auburn? Is it a move of desperation or does Pearl see potential at Auburn that no one else does?

It may be a little bit of both.

Look, this wasn't a rash decision on Pearl's part. As an analyst for ESPN, he has had his pulse on the comings and goings of college basketball for the last couple of years. He knew which jobs likely were coming open. He – or someone representing him – was able to gauge whether those colleges would consider hiring him. Odds are, he even took the temperature of the decision-makers at UT.

Sounds like Pearl didn't get the answers he had hoped to get. Such is the stigma of NCAA sanctions. Of the eight other basketball coaches that have received show-cause penalties, only Todd Bozeman has returned to a Division I head coaching position. Bozeman, late of California, now is at Morgan State.

Auburn, however, was willing to take the plunge with Pearl just six days after Tony Barbee was fired as Tigers coach. Pearl was hired on his 54th birthday.

Clearly, Auburn is prepared to accept the scrutiny that comes with hiring Pearl. In fact, the school is uniquely qualified to do exactly that.

It has been reported that Dave Didion, assistant athletic director of compliance at Auburn, signed off on the pursuit and hiring of Pearl. Didion previously worked as director of enforcement for the NCAA and was involved in the case that led to the heavy sanctions against Pearl.

So Auburn has taken the Pearl plunge. And the Tigers did it without so much as one on-line petition.

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