Nothing routine about Pearl?

Based on his dynamic personality, his incredibly hectic schedule and his zany antics on and off the court, University of Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl seems to have a life that is anything but routine.

Truth be told, however, the Vol skipper believes very strongly in routine. He has a ritual he follows zealously each time his Tennessee team is preparing to take the floor.

Pearl arrives so far in advance of tip-off that few of Thompson-Boling Arena's 24,000 seats are occupied. In fact, the arena is somewhat empty.

"The first thing I'll do is probably go out on the floor," Pearl explained on a recent episode of SEC TV. "Some of the players are always there ... the assistant coaches are always there. I usually go by and see some of the students that have gotten there early, thank them for getting there early and getting in the front row."

After a few moments spent chatting with students, Pearl retires to the dressing room to begin final preparations for the impending tip-off.

"After that, I'll go back into the locker room and put the game plan up on the board," Pearl said. "It'll take me about 20 minutes to put what my thoughts are about the way we attack this opponent up on the board, so that I'll have a reference I can reference when I visit the team before they come in about 35 minutes before tip-off."

Pearl has not varied his routine in his first two years at the Vol helm. No wonder. Assuming a program that went 14-17 in 2005, he posted records of 22-8 in 2006 and 24-11 in 2007.

That's the kind of routine Vol fans can live with.

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