Immediately after I lauded Coach Bruce Pearl’s then-#11 Tennessee Volunteers for defeating then-#3 Pittsburgh, Tablet Magazine’s official team went into a tailspin, achieving a 2-4 record over the rest of December, including a three-game losing streak, to mid-major teams. As this blogpost notes, it was not exactly where the Vols, who reached the Elite Eight in last year’s NCAA Tournament, wanted to be upon entering January and their conference schedule, the first eight games of which Pearl will be barred from coaching due to NCAA violations.
The blogpost above wonders why he still has a job; I won’t repeat my sermon about how big-time NCAA competition is inherently and irredeemably corrupt, and that the only thing notable about Pearl’s transgressions was that he got caught and that he was genuinely contrite. Nor will I spend much time reminding you that he is a spectacular coach and all-around mensch. I merely want to note that last night, playing their final out-of-conference game, the Vols demolished the in-state rival #22 Memphis Tigers (coached by Josh Pastner, also a Member of the Tribe), 104-84. They, in other words, are back.
Finally, a thank-you to the above blogpost for reminding me that Tennessee’s program in the 1970s was the site of the “Ernie and Bernie Show”—Ernie as in Ernie Grunfeld, as in one of the players you can select in our Choose Your All-Time Jewish-American Starting Five game. Go Vols, indeed!