Bruce Pearl Admits Return to Rocky Top will be Difficult
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Auburn coach Bruce Pearl doesn’t bother pretending that his return to Tennessee is just another game.
Pearl, who led Tennessee to six straight NCAA tournament appearances from 2006-11, is coming back to Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday to coach against his former team for the first time since his 2011 firing.
Pearl acknowledges that "it’ll be difficult" to control his emotions in the moments before the opening tip.
Pearl returns to Knoxville three months after former Vols football coach Lane Kiffin came back to Tennessee as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. But Pearl figures to get a much warmer reception.
Although he was fired amid an NCAA investigation that landed Tennessee’s program on probation, Pearl remains so popular in Knoxville that fans circulated an online petition last season to bring him back.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)