MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Bruce Pearl's leash is about the longest it will ever get in college basketball, and why shouldn't it be?
Auburn hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2003. That's bad, really bad.
In fact it's the worst stretch in the Southeastern Conference.
That explains why Peal was introduced to the Auburn family in the fashion of a mosh pit.
He's the second fastest coach to ever reach 300 wins (Only Roy Williams reached that mark in fewer games). Pearl is a consistent winner and has proved that he can step into any bad situation and turn it into a positive one quickly.
First at the Division II mark where he inherited a 10-win Southern Indiana team and took them to nine-straight Division II tournaments, won four conference championships and also won a national championship.
Next up a stint at Milwaukee, a program that had never reached the NCAA tournament. Pearl changed that pretty quickly. A tournament appearance in his second season there, and he backed that up with a "Sweet Sixteen" run two years later.
New school, same result. Pearl took over a Tennessee Volunteers program that had not won more than 20 games during Buzz Peterson's four year stint. The Vols won just 14 games the season before Pearl arrived.
Immediately the culture changed. By his third season in Rocky Top, Pearl had doubled the win total of what he inherited (31 wins). Pearl's Volunteer teams went to the NCAA tournament every season and reached No. 1 in the rankings for the first time in school history.
Pearl was fired over NCAA violations and served his punishment while he was out of the coaching scene.
What a perfect situation for Auburn. They get a proven coach that is still in his prime, and they got him because most weren't willing to take a chance on him.
Good thing Auburn did. His slate has been wiped clean, with no punishments or negative effects lingering from the violations.
Now Pearl is ready to do what he's done at every school, win. Victories start on the recruiting trail and he's winning in that category.
Winning the battle for in-state five star forward Austin Wiley (Spain Park High School), who continues his families Auburn legacy. He also picked up multiple recruits from Georgia Bulldog and Georgia Tech territory. Pearl has compiled the top recruiting class in the country for 2017 and that's just the beginning. He's dominating the recruiting path for a program that hasn't won.
Imagine what he will do when they start winning some games.
Auburn could have one of the youngest teams in college basketball this year. Their roster will be loaded with freshmen and sophomores, but they will show signs of light. And then that light will brighten as the guys experience the growing pains and mesh with one another.
Bruce Pearl will have this program doing big things by the year 2020. You better believe that. After all, an NCAA tournament bid alone would be the greatest accomplishment for Auburn hoops in over a decade. The bar has been set low, but will soon be raised to one of the highest levels in the SEC.
Opinions and topics welcome. I'd love to hear from you. Email Cwalter@wsfa.com