Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl was fired earlier this week. And while he may have trouble finding a job next season, he could land on his feet as the Iowa Hawkeyes head coach in 2012.Pearl was an assistant coach at Iowa, under Tom Davis, from 1986 to 1992. Ironically, it was at Iowa that Pearl was at the centre of another recruiting violation in which he recorded a phone conversation with a recruit that implicated Illinois in a violation. Many believe that incident kept Pearl from getting a head coaching gig at a big school for a number of years.
Meanwhile, in 2007, one year after taking the job at Tennessee, Pearl was Iowa’s top choice to replace Steve Alford. Pearl turned down Iowa and stayed with Tennessee.
Iowa has struggled to find a winning coach since the departure of Pearl’s former boss. In the 12 seasons since Davis retired, Iowa has employed three head coaches and only has three 20-win seasons and three trips to the NCAA tournament. They haven’t had a winning record since the 2006-07 season (17-14).
Iowa finished the 2010-11 season 11-20 and 4-14 in the Big 10 under first-year coach Fran McCaffery. With five years remaining on his contract, Iowa will certainly give McCaffery the 2011-12 season to show signs of improvement. But if the Hawkeyes finish near the bottom of the Big 10 again, things could change.
One problem with hiring Pearl may be money. Iowa already gave Todd Lickliter a $2.4 million buyout in 2010 when he was fired. They also paid Siena College $240K to buy out current coach Fran McCaffery’s contract. And following the 2011-12 season, Iowa will still owe McCaffery approximately $5 million.
Still, Iowa has a long history of big-time coaches that includes Lute Olsen, George Raveling and Davis. The desire to return the program to prominence may make the cost of buying out McCaffery and hiring Pearl worthwhile.
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