As Tennessee nears its home and season finale this Sunday against Kentucky, new details have emerged regarding the subject of meetings between Vol head coach Bruce Pearl and the NCAA during and since his violation-induced suspension earlier this season. The SEC suspended Pearl for the first eight games of the conference slate, and he still awaits official punishment from the sport’s governing body. However, the newly discovered interviews shed light on an entirely new layer of the saga.
The interviews seem to indicate that Pearl was an active lobbyist over the duration of his suspension, constantly communicating his desire to have personal input on the level of punishment he would receive. According to an NCAA official who spoke to KSR on the condition of anonymity, Pearl asked the NCAA to “…just fire me. Please. I don’t even know if you can do that, but do it anyway. Just don’t make me coach those guys anymore. They suck.” Given the unorthodox nature of a coach asking the NCAA to step outside its usual punishment procedure and terminate him immediately, compliance officers from the head offices of college athletics began meeting with Coach Pearl to discuss the reasoning behind wanting to be, what the coach termed, “put out of my misery.”
Pearl was more than willing to open up about his desire to leave the school that he has led since 2005, and most of the disconnect centered around the players on this year’s Tennessee roster. The NCAA official said that Pearl expressed a personal distaste for almost every player on the team, with his son, Steven, not escaping the coach’s ire. “The worst,” was how Pearl described his oldest known legitimate male offspring, and it seems to be the younger Pearl’s devotion to off-the-court activities that had his father upset.
The coach lamented his son’s only being photographed once in an act of public indecency, stating his disappointment that Steven had not put the necessary amount of time into what the NCAA called “the pursuit of potential ex-wives.” The officials pressed Pearl on the fact that his son had, indeed, “gotten a lapdance from that one decent looking chick,” but Pearl quickly countered that he had “already hit that” himself and that the skank in question “told me she loved me, but you don’t see me bragging about it. I’m out pounding the pavement looking for her mom.” Pearl bristled when reminded that he would have to see his son at home anyway, but added that he would insist Steven be retained by the school and stress that he be “allowed to stay as long as he wants.”
The antics of several other Vol players contributed to Pearl’s request that the NCAA remove him from his job. Renaldo Woolridge, known to almost no one by his rap name, ‘Swiperboy,’ was named specifically as one of the most frustrating Vols. Despite the player’s own suspension, stemming from being allowed to use a local bar to film what he should have known would be a failed rap video, Pearl said that Woolridge’s negative effect on the team has not subsided. Instead, the coach described, the young rapper still comes to practice and “just stands on the sidelines, rhyming words and waving his hands around,” adding that the completely talentless guard is “as bad as you would expect.”
Pearl noted that he’s tried to have Woolridge removed from team facilities, but most of the players actually like his performances, as tracks such as “Coulda Been a D-League Baller” have resonated with a team full of players that share similar aspirations of basketball greatness. Leading scorer Scotty Hopson isn’t a fan of the musical stylings, though, and said as much when asked about the content of Pearl’s interviews. “Yeah I’m not really feeling the whole ‘D-League’ thing. I have my sights set higher. I’ll be playing in The League. The French Third Division League. You know, real professional stuff.”
Still, Hopson’s starry ambitions didn’t keep him off of Pearl’s list of complaints. “That f—— flat-top. I mean Yahweh help me that thing is ridiculous.” The me-first nature of Hopson’s questionable hair choice appears to be the driving force behind Pearl’s disdain for the style and player. “Making yourself look stupid just to get some attention is not a good idea. And this is coming from someone who once took his shirt off and painted his chest orange on national television.” A photo of Pearl in the body paint, moobs mercifully redacted, was included with the NCAA documents.
Even players who chose a more selfless approach contributed to Pearl’s desire to leave. Center Brian Williams’ inability to control his weight was particularly troubling to his coach, although Williams insists that the weight gain was a result of honoring a commitment to a departed teammate. “When Tyler Smith decided to hold the gun, and all the weed, and my hand, he told me that he was going down but he wanted me to make something of myself, so I did.” Williams continued, “I made myself really, really fat.” Although the senior big man accepted Pearl’s request that he wear a proper support garment under his jersey in order to corral his heft, apparently it didn’t serve to alleviate the problems. Pearl added that now, when Williams takes his jersey off in the locker room, “it’s like staring at the sun. But without the benefit of eventual blindness.”
Pearl’s anger over having such insufferable chumps as players wasn’t the only striking information to come out of the interviews, however. It seems that even the offense for which Pearl is awaiting punishment was a part of the plan to escape his life sentence as Tennessee’s coach. “I set myself up,” Pearl admitted, saying that he organized the barbecue in question knowing that it was a clear violation. He had hoped the NCAA would levy its punishment sooner, though, and questioned the governing body’s performance in the matter. He openly wondered “how it took like six months for them to get me. I had recruits over to my house, took pictures, had someone post them on Facebook and then just flat-out lied about it. Of course I was trying to get myself fired. I’m sleazy, and borderline creepy, but not stupid.”
It’s unclear how these new releases will affect the case moving forward, but for now, Pearl can only await his fate at the hands of the NCAA. He reiterated his desire for a proper resolution to the matter in a statement released concerning the interviews. “I said when this news first surfaced that the University of Tennessee and I are committed to compliance and discipline. That commitment has not wavered, and I will continue to encourage the powers that be to levy the strictest of punishments on me. Seriously guys. Just do it already. I don’t want to go back.”