If you haven't been following along, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl knowingly committed recruiting violations and told recruits to keep quiet about it. He then proceeded to lie to NCAA investigators when prodded about the situation. In other words, there are a lot of people out there who think he's a pretty sleazy dude. It's probably safe to say that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive is one of those people.
Today, Slive one-upped Tennessee's own self-imposed sanctions by banning Pearl from the first eight games of the SEC season. In his statement, Slive made Pearl appear lucky to avoid a full year suspension:
In the analysis I determined there may well have been enough for the entire conference season, but the fact that he owned up to what he had done, owned up to the underlying violations, I felt half of the conference season was an appropriate matter.
A little harsh, we think. Pearl's actions, especially the part about deceiving investigators, definitely warrant something more than a slap on the wrist. But a full season for a guy who currently has no contract is a tad much in our book. Mad that Pearl's tactics had dirtied up his already-murky conference, Slive simply took it upon himself to mete out a legitimate punishment. When you look at it that way, Pearl never stood a chance. Assistant coach Tony Jones will take over the helm in Pearl's absence.
Despite all of this, the Vols are currently 3-0 and ranked No. 24 in the country. The trio of Tobias Harris, Scotty Hopson and Cameron Tatum might just be enough firepower to keep these guys afloat in the SEC. Even at one of the lowest times in the history of the program, there is enough talent on the court to keep your mind off the terrible stuff for a few seconds. With that said, the resiliency of this Tennessee roster is about to be tested.