Are Saturday foes Pearl and Tyndall two peas in a pod?

By Steve Williams

The telecast of Tennessee shooting down South Carolina in Columbia last week looked good to fans of the Vols, but the news in the streamer running beneath the screen cut into the excitement and again raised questions about the future of head coach Donnie Tyndall and the men’s basketball program.

That part is not looking good.

Southern Mississippi announced Tuesday (Jan. 20) that it was self-imposing a postseason ban for this season as the NCAA investigates the Golden Eagles’ basketball program, the streamer stated.

The school also acknowledged the investigation is on the 2012-13 and 2013-14 basketball seasons when Tyndall was the head coach.

Nobody knows what’s going to happen, but something could happen at anytime.

Tyndall, meanwhile, looks like a man without a worry in the world. He’s smiling and tweeting for big turnouts and handing out free pizza to fans and winning games at a surprising rate.

“All I can say is I’ve cooperated 100 percent and if I need to, I will continue to do that,” Tyndall said after the 66-62 victory at South Carolina. “That’s all I can say on that matter.”

His Vols, 12-5 and winners of eight of their past nine outings, headed into this past weekend’s home game against Texas A&M in second place in the SEC standings with a 4-1 conference mark that included three road wins. Not bad for a team that was a preseason pick to finish 13th out of 14 teams.

It appears Tyndall can compartmentalize as good as he can coach. And his players are having fun proving everybody wrong on the court.

If things were different and Tyndall’s Vols were where they had been predicted to be – on the other end of the SEC standings – UT fans would be eager to see Donnie fired and a new coach brought aboard. And Athletic Director Dave Hart would quickly be showing dirty Donnie the door.

My guess is Tyndall is guilty of NCAA violations, but he may have one chance to keep his job.

He needs to come clean and hope his current success gets him a second chance to coach Tennessee.

Coaches are human. Many cheat. But they can change.

I thought UTdid the right thing in firing former head coach Bruce Pearl after the 2011 season. But I would have supported a decision to bring Pearl back after he served the 3-year NCAA show cause. I believe in giving people second chances after they serve their time, if you will.

Auburn must have felt that way, too. The Tigers were quick to hire Pearl.

This coming Saturday, Coach Pearl returns to Thompson-Boling Arena. Hart and UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek may have kept him from coaching again at Tennessee, but they couldn’t keep him out of the SEC.

Bruce deserves a warm reception. He brought Vol Nation plenty of good times, for a while anyway. A No. 2 seeding in the 2006 NCAA bracket his first season on the job. A No. 1 ranking in the nation and the school’s first outright SEC championship in 41 years in 2008. The Vols’ first-ever Elite Eight appearance in 2010 and six straight trips to the Big Dance.

Day-to-day Donnie will be on the other side of TBA for the noon matchup. He’s Tennessee’s coach at this time and deserves Vol Nation’s full support.

I hope I’m wrong about Tyndall. He looks like he could be as good a coach as Pearl.

Only time will tell if he gets to stay here long enough and show it.

 

 

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