As you know, Auburn is in the Final Four, just like we all predicted back in February. Bruce Pearl’s Tigers upset Kansas, North Carolina and then your University of Kentucky Wildcats for a spot in Minneapolis, the first Final Four appearance for both the school and Pearl.
I am now rooting for our SEC brethren, but does that make me a bad person? You can be honest with me. I’m a big boy.
In most cases, I would only wish awful things upon the team that ended Kentucky’s season. In this case, though, I can’t help but pull for Pearl and a program that is there for the first time ever (against the snooze-fest that is Tony Bennett basketball at Virginia).
I know my colleague Ryan Lemond is also wearing Auburn colors this weekend. He covered Bruce Pearl at Southern Indiana many years ago, so he too is a Pearl fan. I followed Pearl back when he was at USI and have always liked his charismatic personality, even when he was coaching and barbecuing down in Knoxville from 2005-2011.
His son, Auburn assistant Steven Pearl, makes it even easier to be for Auburn after what he said to the Calipari daughters soon after Auburn knocked off UK in Kansas City. As Megan and Erin Calipari were getting some hate on Twitter, Steven Pearl tweeted to them, “Don’t listen to the outside noise. Your father is an absolute legend in this profession, one of the best to ever do it. Gracious in victory and defeat….nothing but love and respect for your family.”
Then of course there is the injury to Chuma Okeke, one of Auburn’s best players, in the Sweet 16 game. You’d have to be a real asshole to not feel bad for him in how his year was cut short with an ACL injury.
All of those things combined make me an Auburn fan in Saturday’s semifinal and then again on Monday if they take down Tony Bennett.
War Eagle! (That’s how I say it, right?)