Theology influences Auburn coaching hires

Bruce Pearl ‘repented’ and that landed him at Auburn

Auburn Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl’s Twitter image.

“The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

Understanding how a known liar ended up coaching at another SEC school is a big mystery. How a known liar ended up coaching at the one SEC that puts emphasis on faith and family values is an even greater mystery. However, thanks to the Chicago Tribune and Teddy Greenstein, we have a better understanding of what drives the thinking of Auburn’s leadership.

According to Greenstein, “Jacobs said in a telephone interview that he ‘cut right to it’ and asked Pearl why he lied to the NCAA.
“As Bruce began to tell me the story, a lot of emotions came through,” Jacobs said. “I knew he was remorseful — and that the toughest challenge would be getting him to forgive himself. I knew he had repented. He talked about the harm it had done to college basketball, the University of Tennessee and to his family. He didn’t talk about himself.”


Jacobs viewed Pearl’s conduct almost like it was…a sin. How old fashioned.

And it is hard to criticize Jacobs for doing three things here. First, he hired a great basketball coach. Second, before he hired the coach he asked direct questions. Third, he used his core beliefs to examine the potential hire and evaluate the decision. It showed very good leadership.

It is clear that Jay Jacobs’ theology influenced his coaching hires. He has a core set of values and judges everything according to that. It might be an old fashioned standard of right and wrong and justice and judgment and God and sin, but it is a standard that has led Auburn to some strong rounds of success.

All you have to do is look at the recent coaching records and you’ll see it. Gene Chizik believed it was a God Thing that led his Auburn Tigers to a national championship. Chizik’s successor at Auburn, Gus Malzahn hasn’t done too bad either getting into the national championship game against FSU last season.

While theology might not guide Alabama’s coaching decisions, one hopes the University of Alabama’s leadership team can muster the same level of leadership in handling the coaching issues involved in Alabama’s basketball program.

In the meantime, check out Greenstein’s story on Auburn and Bruce Pearl. There are many interesting elements—including Pearl’s revelation that he is a conservative Republican.