Pearl Anxious To Get Back On Recruiting Trail

Auburn's Bruce Pearl talks about the end of his show-cause and his first order of business when it ends Aug. 23.

Auburn, Ala.--For three years Coach Bruce Pearl has been under a show-case order from the NCAA, but the light is at the end of the tunnel and it’s an exciting time for the Auburn basketball Tigers and their new head coach. With the final day of the penalty coming on Aug. 23, Pearl said for him it will be business as usual once things get back to normal.

“Yeah, we’re going to work,” Pearl said. “We are going to work. My coaching staff, they told me they’re tired of carrying me. That is what they’ve been telling me. Recruiting has gone pretty well without me. They may not want me back, I may mess this up."

Pearl's sanctions are left over from his previous job at the University of Tennessee, but Auburn hired him this spring despite that issue, which the Tigers have been working around with assistant Tony Jones coordinating the recruiting efforts.

“There are limitations to what I can do in recruiting and we followed those limitations and been really compliant,” said Pearl, whose sanctions will end at 12:01 a.m. on August 24th. “It will be a fun night," he said. "My coaching staff will all be with me when midnight strikes and I have got a lot of calls to make. I have got a lot of catching up to do, but I will be grateful when it’s behind me.”

While the inability to take part in the recruiting process has been an issue, it was far from the only tough part about the show-cause order. Perhaps the most difficult was not being able to talk to old friends and coaching acquaintances because of their connections to recruits in high school or on the AAU circuit.

“I've got a ton of catching up to do,” Pearl said. “There are a lot of calls to a lot of friends who are in coaching--AAU coaches or people I’ve known that I’ve not been able to reach out to. Maybe they’re associated with a prospect.

"I would get a phone call from a dear friend whom I’ve known for 20 years and he’s happy that I’m back in coaching and I can’t return that call because he’s an AAU coach or he’s a high school coach. I have to have my assistant coaches make that call.

“There are a lot of people I need thank, a lot of people have been supportive," he added. "We’ve got some players on our roster right now, people in that recruiting process, I’ve not been able to talk to. That is probably going to be my focus as much as anything. As far as how much we do with texting and the Internet and social media and all that stuff? That’ll be part of the regular plan.”

Catching up with old friends will be important, but Pearl points out the first order of business will be to get back on the court to watch prospects and try to catch up as quickly as possible on the recruiting trail. That starts early with an Elite Camp on Aug. 24 at Auburn Arena. While it’s just the first step back on the recruiting trail for the veteran coach, he said that he can’t wait to be back in gyms and arenas across the country trying to find future Tigers.

“Most coaching staffs work it this way--the assistant coaches go out, they scout, they evaluate, they narrow it down,” Pearl said. “Then they bring the head coach in and say, 'Look at this guy, look at that guy.' The way I’ve always done it is I’m always out there from the time the gym opens up to the time the gym closes. I love to find them. I love to look at them and I love to look at them a lot.

“I can’t look at a player once or twice," he said. "I want to watch them five or six times. I like to do the evaluating. I want to make the decisions. It’s kind of like (Bill) Parcells when he was a head coach. He wanted to also be able to factor in the ingredients.

"In college coaching there isn’t a general and head coach. I am the general manager. I am the head coach. I’ve got to make these decisions based on what I see--based on his interaction with his coach, based on what he does in winning or losing. What’s his body language? I’ve got to figure out if I want to coach that guy.”

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