It’s difficult to envision Auburn basketball now without its loveable, thankful and passionate leader at the helm.
In the four years prior to Auburn’s hiring of Bruce Pearl, the Tigers went 49-75 under former head coach Tony Barbee, who withered under the pressure of a Power 5 school after finding success at UTEP.
With Pearl finding a home at Auburn, a major change came to the Tigers’ program. Suddenly, the bottom dwellers of the SEC became relevant again, as top recruits began to choose The Plains as their college destination.
With time, change finally came.
In the final two years of the Barbee era, the Tigers won just nine and 14 games, respectively.
This season, Auburn won 26 games, which totaled more than the last two years combined
In Barbee’s “best” season, Auburn won just 14 games and did not sell out a single game inside Auburn Arena.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
This season, Auburn won 15 of its first 16 games. The Tigers bested Barbee’s best mark less than halfway through their season.
The Tigers also sold out seven of their 16 games inside Auburn Arena. The only SEC game that did not sell out was against Texas A&M on Feb. 7, which coincidentally was the only loss the Tigers had inside Auburn Arena this season.
Prior to Pearl’s hiring at Auburn, the Tigers’ program was widely-known as one of the most difficult jobs in all of college basketball. Sentiments such as “impossible to win” and a “worse job than a mid-major school” were thrown around by national pundits.
Pearl changed all of that, quickly becoming the face of a program on the rise.
Auburn Arena has morphed from cavernous into one of the most hostile environments in college basketball.
The Tigers, who reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003 this season, are here to stay on the national stage.
Pearl and his Auburn program have put in all of the dirty work to
The questions remain regarding the Chuck Person investigation and the FBI probe that encompasses it. For all we know, Pearl’s job, along with many others at big-name programs across the country, could be hanging by a thread right now.
No matter the fate of Pearl’s job or of the program, the perception of Auburn basketball has been altered. It remains shrouded in the potentially deadly grip of NCAA and federal law enforcement authorities, but according to Pearl, he’s done everything in his power to ensure the safety of the team going forward.
And with that fiery and inspiring attitude, Auburn might turn a corner. Given time and opportunity, Pearl could mold the core of athletics to feature equal parts success from football and basketball.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman