Pearl one aide short

You know your basketball program is hot when prospective recruits are calling in hopes of joining it. You know it's REALLY hot when prospective assistants are calling in hopes of signing on.

That's what's happening at Tennessee. Even before Scott Edgar's departure from the Vol staff to become head coach at Southeast Missouri State became official, roughly a dozen coaches from other schools telephoned UT head man Bruce Pearl volunteering to become Volunteers.

The early favorite to fill the void created by Edgar's departure is Tom Schuberth, associate coach at Central Florida. Pearl interviewed him last March before ultimately hiring Edgar. Schuberth previously assisted at the University of Memphis, giving him ties to the state's most fertile recruiting ground. Schuberth also served on staffs at UAB and Southeast Missouri State before joining the Central Florida staff.

Tony Jones, associate head coach at Tennessee, told The Knoxville News-Sentinel the Vols will take their time finding a replacement for Edgar.

"There's no rush,'' Jones said. "Bruce will make a well-informed decision. He'll talk it over with the staff, but obviously he'll make the final decision. It will be based on coaching background, loyalty traits, enthusiasm and a willingness to fit into an already cohesive unit.''

Edgar, 50, beat out former Ole Miss head man Rod Barnes and former Missouri assistant Jay Spoonhour for the top job at SE Missouri State.

"It's a blessing to be a head coach again,'' Edgar told the Southeastern Missourian newspaper. "I consider this program a sleeping giant. We can be regionally dominant and nationally competitive. I wanted to be a head coach again but only if it was the right place and a good fit.''

In a news release, SE Missouri athletics director Don Kaverman said: "It was clear after reviewing the credentials of all the finalists, that there was one individual, Scott Edgar, who surfaced as the outstanding candidate among the three finalists. We are delighted that Coach Edgar has accepted the position.''

Edgar's duties at UT included a lot of recruiting, preparing the scout team in practice and preparing scouting reports on opponents. He was an integral part of the Vols' 22-8 season that included an SEC East title and a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

At Southeast Missouri, Edgar will be returning to the Ohio Valley Conference. He was coach at Murray State from 1991-1995, leading the Racers to a 79-40 record that included a sparkling 56-16 OVC mark. Murray made two trips to the NCAA tournament and one to the NIT in his four seasons.

Post script: In case you're wondering, it was Southwest Missouri State -- not Southeast Missouri State -- that hammered Jerry Green's heavily favored Vols 81-51 in the 1999 NCAA Tournament round of 32.

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