When it comes to the future of Auburn men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl, SEC personality Paul Finebaum is taking a wait-and-see approach.
During his weekly Monday morning appearance on WJOX 94.5 radio show The Roundtable, The host of the Paul Finebaum Show on SEC Network was asked about the basketball programs at Alabama and Auburn. Now that their seasons are over, which program’s momentum does he feel better about?
“I’m going to increase my position in Avery Johnson. I’m not buying any stock in Bruce Pearl’s future,” Finebaum said. “I just don’t know where it goes, because I don’t know. I don’t know what the school is thinking. I don’t know what the new athletic director is thinking.”
Pearl just finished a 26-8 campaign in his fourth season at Auburn, a year in which the Tigers won a share of the SEC title and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.
There were, however, plenty of distractions off the court. Assistant coach Chuck Person was fired after being caught up in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball. Two Auburn players – Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy – were suspended as a result of the same investigation.
The Tigers’ dream season had a nightmarish ending Sunday with an 84-53 blowout loss to Clemson. As Finebaum explained, the embarrassing exit from the NCAA Tournament certainly won’t help Pearl moving forward.
“I will say as you win and you advance in the NCAA Tournament, sometimes administrators have been known to look past whatever issues are out there," Finebaum said. "After losing by 18 or 19 in the SEC (Tournament) against Alabama and that horror show last night in San Diego (against Clemson), I don’t think that’s going to be a factor here. I think Bruce Pearl will be judged by the merits of what he did or didn’t do.
“I don’t remember when I’ve seen a more embarrassing NCAA performance than the one we saw last night.”