You can stop laughing now because this is no joke. Thanks to one unimaginable run to the finals in 1991, Houston fashioned a 5-5 SEC Tournament record and a .500 winning percentage in the event. Thanks to first-game losses in 2006 and 2007, Pearl has a .000 winning percentage heading into this year's event.
Overall, Pearl boasts a 74-22 record in three years at UT, good for an imposing 77.1 winning percentage. Conversely, Houston posted a 65-90 record in five years at the Vol helm, which works out to a 41.9 success rate. Obviously, that makes their respective records in SEC Tournament play even more baffling.
Don DeVoe was the first-year head man at UT when the league tourney was resumed in 1979 after a 26-year hiatus, and he promptly won it on his initial try. The SEC was a 10-team league in those days, however, and – thanks to a first-round bye – Tennessee had to win just two games to claim the title. DeVoe did not reach the finals again during his 11-year tenure.
Houston followed DeVoe and fared surprisingly well in the league tourney. After a 9-21 regular season in 1990-91, Houston's Vols beat Ole Miss (94-85), top-seeded Mississippi State (87-70) and Georgia (85-65) before bowing to Alabama (88-69) in the finals. Tennessee has not reached the SEC title game in the 16 years since.
Kevin O'Neill has the worst record among modern-era Vol coaches who have participated in at least three SEC Tournaments. He lost his tourney debut 55-43 to Alabama at the 1995 event in Atlanta, beat Bama 77-65 and lost 74-63 to Georgia in '96 at New Orleans, then resigned one day after losing 67-54 to Auburn in the '97 event at Memphis.
Jerry Green was successful in regular-season play, posting four consecutive 20-win seasons, but was downright lame in postseason play. After beating LSU 73-62 in his first SEC tourney test at the 1998 event in Atlanta, Green lost four of his next five outings to finish with a 2-4 tournament mark.
Whereas Green could win in the regular season but not in the postseason, successor Buzz Peterson never found the winning formula in either situation. He went just 61-59 in regular-season play and 2-4 in the SEC tourney, including an 84-49 humiliation at the hands of Alabama at the 2004 event in Atlanta. Peterson was fired two days after dropping a 76-62 decision to Kentucky at the 2005 league tournament, also held in Atlanta.
Despite incredible success during the regular season, Pearl has yet to leave Atlanta with a W. His 2006 team lost 79-71 to South Carolina and his 2007 squad suffered a 76-67 overtime setback to LSU. Coincidentally, Pearl's Friday foe in this year's tourney will be the winner of Thursday's game between South Carolina and LSU.
What follows is the winning percentage and record for each Tennessee coach since the SEC Tournament was revived in 1979:
.500 - Wade Houston ...... 5 wins, 5 losses
.474 - Don DeVoe ...... 9 wins, 10 losses
.333 - Buzz Peterson ...... 2 wins, 4 losses
.333 - Jerry Green ...... 2 win, 4 losses
.250 - Kevin O'Neill ......1 win, 3 losses
.000 - Bruce Pearl ...... 0 wins, 2 losses