Rankings don't interest Pearl

Bruce Pearl's philosophy could be summed up in seven words: The rankings don't matter. The standings do.

Like Tennessee's fans, Tennessee's head basketball coach is acutely aware that his team is ranked No. 4 nationally. Deep down, he's surely proud of this fact. Still, seeing the Vols near the top of the national rankings with a 23-2 overall record isn't nearly as important to him as seeing them perched atop the conference standings with a 10-1 SEC record.

Asked recently how it feels to carry a top-five national ranking, Pearl shrugged.

"I honestly don't look at that," he said. "I am talking to my team about trying to win a championship."

Pearl insists that he does not discuss Tennessee's lofty national ranking with his players, adding that he has no plans to do so.

"Those guys have heard nothing about a national ranking from me … not one word," he said. "But they know where they are in the standings. And they know who we play next. I don't mind focusing on that."

Pearl preaches "The Process" – the need to keep improving from week to week. Where you are today is not as important as where you are next week and the week after. Being one of America's best teams at mid-season is no big deal. Being one of America's best teams at season's end, however, is a very big deal.

"As far as the ranking, right now it just doesn't mean anything," Pearl said. "I'll talk about the seeding for the NCAA Tournament later on because that's important. But the only ranking that means anything is at the end."

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