Bruce Pearl knows where his bread is buttered, so he jumped at the chance to pump gas for the Haslam family's Pilot Corp. Yes, it was a charity event—5 cents from every gallon of gas that Pearl pumped went to United Way. Of course, that means 95 cents went to the generous Haslams.
"In coaching, you always need to have a profession you need to fall back on if you don't win enough games, so I'm just here practicing," Pearl says in a promotional video.
Was that a joke? Increasingly under fire for breaking recruiting rules and lying to the NCAA about it, Pearl looks like he might lose his job. That's all the more reason to cozy up to Bill Haslam, the guy who soon will be the next governor and thus chairman of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.
Pearl raised eyebrows by endorsing Haslam during the GOP primary and campaigning with him. It was weird for a university sports hero to jump into politics like that. But then, we didn't know what Pearl knew. He was about to be revealed as a cheat. If the NCAA demands that the university fire Pearl or face tough punishment—say, loss of scholarships or a post-season tournament ban—Haslam can save his job.
On an Atlanta radio station this week, Pearl acknowledged his job's in jeopardy but said he believes he will survive.