Pearl's aiming high

Bruce Pearl's knack for recruiting assistants is almost as impressive as his knack for recruiting players.

Upon taking the Tennessee basketball job last March, Pearl managed to pry Scott Edgar away from the Alabama Birmingham staff. Edgar, who had been a head coach at both Murray State and Duquesne, helped the 2005-06 Vols go 22-8 and win the SEC Eastern Division.

Now that Edgar has left the UT staff to become head man at Southeast Missouri State, Pearl seems intent on hiring another former head coach to fill the vacancy. The top candidates appear to be Rod Barnes and Bob Sundvold.

Barnes spent the past eight seasons running the show at Ole Miss, his alma mater. Sundvold, who is head coach and general manager of the ABA's Kansas City Knights, previously served as head man at Missouri-Kansas City and Central Missouri State.

Another coach believed to be in the running for the Vol vacancy is Damon Archibald, who was associate head coach at Iowa State until the Cyclone staff was relieved of its duties last month.

Barnes appears to be the front-runner for the Tennessee staff position. His Ole Miss teams were characterized by salty defense, and that was a problem area for the 2005-06 Vols. Barnes led the 2000-01 Rebels to a 27-8 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. That achievement earned him Naismith Coach of the Year recognition.

After four consecutive losing seasons, however, Barnes recently was forced out on the heels of a 14-16 mark in 2005-06. One of the losses was an 86-72 setback to Tennessee Feb. 4 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Sundvold has compiled a 125-108 record as a head coach. He spent 14 years on Norm Stewart's staff at Missouri, helping the Tigers win six Big Eight titles and make nine NCAA Tournament appearances.

Archibald has an interesting background. He was recruiting coordinator at Fresno State under Jerry Tarkanian from 1997-99. He also coached one year at Pepperdine and four years at Southern Cal before joining the Iowa State staff.

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