Things came crashing down for the Auburn basketball program on Sunday evening, and now no one is quite sure what happens next for Bruce Pearl. Not even Paul Finebaum.
On the morning after an embarrassing 84-53 NCAA Tournament loss to Clemson ended the Tigers season in the Round of 32, the sometimes polarizing SEC Network personality gave an honest take on what he expects next for Pearl and the Auburn basketball program.
Finebaum was asked to speculate on the three-year stock outlook of Pearl at Auburn and Avery Johnson at Alabama during an interview with WJOX-FM in Birmingham, and Tigers fans may cringe at his reply.
After saying he’d increase his fictitious position in Johnson’s stock with the Crimson Tide, he was not nearly as kind to Pearl, who has seen Auburn’s most successful basketball season in recent memory somewhat spoiled by the cloud of an FBI investigation that led to the indictment of former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person.
“I’m not buying any stock in Bruce Pearl’s future,” Finebaum said on Monday morning. “I just don’t know where it goes from here. Because I don’t know. I don’t know what the school is thinking, I don’t know what the new athletic director is thinking.
“I will say as you win and as you advance in the NCAA Tournament sometimes administrators have been known to look past whatever issues are out there, but after losing by 18 to Alabama in the SEC Tournament and that horror show last night in San Diego, I don’t think that’s going to be a factor here. I think Bruce Pearl will be judged by the merits of what he did didn’t do.”
“Having said that, and I don’t want to rain on Auburn’s parade because it was the best Auburn season in a million years, but I don’t remember when I’ve seen a more embarrassing NCAA performance than the one we saw last night.”
Following the loss on Sunday evening, Pearl expressed optimism that he’d be retained for next season in spite of the FBI and NCAA troubles.
“I’m Auburn’s basketball coach,” Pearl said Sunday, per SEC Country’s Justin Ferguson. “I’m blessed and happy to be Auburn’s basketball coach. I want to stay at Auburn. And I’ve got to say, all season long, I feel very good about the position we’re in, the process we’ve gone through, and my anticipation is that I’ll be Auburn’s basketball coach.”
But even Pearl acknowledged that “there are going to have to be some decisions made” now that the Tigers’ tourney run has come to an end.
You can listen to Finebaum’s entire interview with WJOX-FM here:
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