Dorm Report: Ripple effect for Auburn, Virginia Tech

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Updated: 6/03 9:54 am

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Splashy hires don't always live up to the hype when it comes to bringing in a new head coach.

Plenty of big names have taken the reins of college programs only to be sent packing soon after due to a lack of improvement.

That didn't stop two power conference programs from grabbing some of the best known names on the market this offseason, with Auburn naming Bruce Pearl head coach and Virginia Tech luring Buzz Williams away from Marquette.

For both programs, long dormant in terms of sustained basketball success, drastic changes were certainly needed. Auburn has had just two winning seasons in the last 10 years and has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2003.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech has just two NCAA Tournament invites in the last 20 years and is coming off a miserable 9-22 campaign, marking the fourth straight season its win total decreased.

Quite often trending downward becomes a slippery slope that is difficult to escape, with attention from national and regional sources failing, and the addition of high-profile recruits unlikely. That lack of talent turnover for the roster then leads to more losing seasons and begins the cycle all over again.

At the very least, Williams and Pearl are bringing some much-needed attention to Virginia Tech and Auburn, respectively.

However, the two coaches have already made more impact than just earning their respective teams some national headlines.

As Whit Babcock, who was hired as Virginia Tech's new athletic director in January, said when he hired Williams, the Hokies are getting a "proven winner."

Those were not just the words of an AD trying to sell his decision. Williams has been a head coach for seven seasons and has gone 153-86 in that time. He had a winning record in each of his six seasons with Marquette and, other than last year, had always brought the Golden Eagles to the NCAA Tournament. That included three straight Sweet 16 trips from 2011 to 2013.

That type of track record should have any Virginia Tech fan or booster salivating.

However, Williams brings much more than a resume with him to Blacksburg. Although Trevor Thompson decided to transfer out after Williams' hiring, the former Golden Eagles head coach has already made strides in putting together a strong recruiting class.

The crowning jewel of the group may be Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who picked Virginia Tech over two better-known basketball commodities in North Carolina State and Virginia. Allen, a point guard, averaged 13.4 points per game for the Terrapins a year ago. His offensive ability will be extremely helpful for a team desperate for scoring options after ranking last in the ACC in scoring a year ago (62.9 ppg) and losing leading scorer Jarell Eddie (13.3 ppg) to graduation.

Allen joins a backcourt that already includes Devin Wilson (9.2 ppg, 4.8 assists per game) and Ben Emelogu (10.5 ppg), meaning Williams will have plenty of guards to work with, a roster breakdown he succeeded with at Marquette.

It isn't all about the new people Williams has brought in, however, as he also kept Virginia Tech commits Justin Bibbs and Jalen Hudson from jumping ship after former head coach James Johnson was fired. On top of that, Williams is bringing Marquette recruits Ahmed Hill and Satchel Pierce along with him.

Just like Williams, Pearl's hiring is one that raised many eyebrows, and for Auburn, the hope is it will raise win totals in the competitive SEC.

Pearl is certainly familiar with the competition in the conference, having coached at Tennessee for six years before being fired for NCAA recruiting violations in the spring of 2011.

The negative effects of those infractions are still being felt, as Pearl is being punished with a show-cause penalty, which keeps him from recruiting until Aug. 24. Without the ability to recruit, Pearl has not been able to make the same type of impact on his roster as Williams at Virginia Tech, but Auburn is clearly willing to wait for him to begin working his magic in the future.

After all, despite the wrongdoing, which is obviously a major negative, Pearl's results as a coach speak for themselves. He went to the NCAA Tournament in all six of his seasons with Tennessee, including two SEC titles, after winning three straight Horizon League regular-season crowns at Milwaukee.

"I don't know how long it will take, but it's time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy," Pearl told AuburnTigers.com when he was hired.

For a program that hasn't tasted a winning record in five years or an NCAA Tournament appearance in 11, what's a few more months to wait for Pearl to be fully unleashed?

In the meantime, Auburn will settle with the boost in publicity it has received since Pearl came to campus.

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