With rumors swirling around his future and the future of the program, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl is ready to get on the court in tomorrow night’s season opener vs. Norfolk State.
“If a coach doesn’t tell you that he doesn’t have butterflies before the opening tip, he’s either being inaccurate or he needs to find another line of work,” Pearl said. “While I’m excited about the tip, I’m also anxious about it.”
Pearl said although he was disappointed in his team’s display in the exhibition loss to Barry University, Auburn’s fourth-year head coach has worked hard to correct his team’s mistakes this week.
"The Barry game absolutely was a complete blueprint of what we did wrong and how we did it wrong a year ago,” Pearl said. “Most of the games that we lost our leads, it followed script: We couldn't get stops in the second half and put so much pressure on our offense every time down that we had to score. And we scored almost every time down, but down at the other end we just didn't do the job. I was surprised by it and really disappointed in it.”
Although aware of the reports about his future being in jeopardy, Pearl did not comment on the ongoing investigation.
“As I have said from the very beginning, I cannot comment,” Pearl said. “This is an ongoing investigation, and we are working through the process.
“I get up every day and go to work and do the very best I can with what I got. I try not to listen to whatever the distractions are. We’re focused on what’s ahead.”
Auburn sophomore Mustapha Heron said the team is also aware of the reports, but is not focused on them.
“I take it with a grain of salt, I try to do everything I can to be a leader on the team, so just trying to keep the guys right and ready to go tomorrow,” Heron said. “We’re focused on the first game, home opener, focused on going to Charleston next week and winning some games. So, we’re just focused on what we can control.”
Pearl said there was no update on the eligibility status of sophomores Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley. The sophomore standouts are able to practice, but not compete.
Auburn will tipoff its season vs. Norfolk State Friday night at 7 p.m. CT inside Auburn Arena. The game can be seen on SEC Network+.