Until recently, Bruce Pearl was an up-and-coming star on the collegiate coaching ranks. After leading the unheralded University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to the Sweet 16, he took over the University of Tennessee in 2005 and quickly turned the program around. Pearl led the Volunteers to five straight NCAA tournaments, one Elite 8, and numerous high rankings.
And in 2009, Pearl coached Team USA at the World Maccabiah Games. So that's nice.
But his 2010-11 season was an absolute disaster. Sure, his team still made the tournament (only to get blown out in the opener), but Pearl was fired soon after.
And why would such a successful coach be fired? Well, because he didn't play by the NCAA rulebook. Pearl was cited for illegally contacting recruits, was suspended and forced to coach the entire season with no salary. And it was all rather ironic, because two decades ago, while an assistant at the University of Iowa, Pearl acted as a whistle-blower on a rival college's recruiting violations.
So much for being that up-and-comer...
(Editor's update: Pearl has since rebuilt Auburn into a powerhouse, including a Final Four trip. And those recruiting violations? Let's just say NCAA absurdity knows no bounds... Maybe Tennessee should have kept him?)