Showman Pearl shines in shadow of football

Sonny Smith, native of Roan Mountain, Tenn., and lifelong basketball aficionado, always figured there was a ripe opportunity for the right man back home.

The opportunity: The University of Tennessee men’s basketball program.

The man: Bruce Pearl.

“I always thought the potential for the second-best job in the SEC is at Tennessee,” said Smith, arguably the most successful coach in Auburn hoops history. “Bruce Pearl is the total package right now. He can coach them up, he can recruit them, and he can promote himself.”