10. Bruce Pearl lies about a barbecue, is suspended, then fired.
As you can see, the Tennessee Vols athletic program really started to suffer from curses during the 2010-2011 academic year. Lane Kiffin’s departure was the only bad luck thing that happened the first year after Tennessee football fired Fulmer.
This year, we’ve broken down two unlucky football losses. Then there’s the Bruce Pearl fiasco. And it started in the middle of the 2010 football season but dates back to before that. Pearl committed a secondary violation in 2008 by hosting a recruit at his house for a barbecue. It’s no longer a violation, and the recruit didn’t even commit.
Nonetheless, Pearl lied about it. He then got caught and had to apologize publicly in 2010. That was the first straw. But then the SEC stepped in and suspended him for eight games. On top of that, nobody knew how the NCAA would react.
All of this resulted in too many distractions for what should have been a national title-caliber team. As a result, they stumbled through SEC play and fell to a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite a promising start. Then, Mike Hamilton all but said Pearl was fired right before Tennessee’s first tournament game.
Tennessee lost that game by nearly 30 points. Pearl was fired the following Monday. The most successful coach in the history of the program was forced out due to everybody’s overreaction to a secondary violation that’s not even a violation anymore. It also led to another issue for the Tennessee Vols, which we go to next.