Bruce Pearl works phones with Charles Barkley and beyond

Aug. 24, 2014

BrucePearl
Bruce Pearl has entered a new era, for him, at Auburn

By Charles Goldberg
AuburnTigers.com
AUBURN, Ala. Bruce Pearl didn't need an alarm to know when he could finally start recruiting for Auburn.

Charles Barkley, some distance away, simply reminded him at the very first minute he could.

"The very first call I got at 12:01 was from Charles Barkley," said the Auburn basketball coach. "You talk about incredible and special, and why should I be surprised? He was just very sensitive to what we’ve gone through and glad it was over for us."

Pearl couldn't recruit his first five months as Auburn coach as he served out a show-cause penalty handed down by the NCAA. But he can now, as of 12:01 a.m. Sunday, and Pearl seized the moment as soon as he hung up with Barkley. Pearl called and texted and generally worked the phones, talking to recruits and coaches and old friends.

He also talked to students who were at Auburn Arena late Saturday night for an impromptu show of support for their new coach.

"'It's midnight. What are you doing here?'" Pearl remembered thinking.

"It was really cool. I was grateful for them being there. I walked in and the players were there. That's when I kind of lost it a little bit. That's when I got a little emotional because I was shocked. Those are the kinds of things that you kind of go through in different experiences with the players. They showed me a lot of love. We’ve been trying to show them some love, so it was good."

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Pearl said he went to bed at 3:15 a.m. Sunday was an Auburn elite camp for prospects.

"It's a great way to introduce students to our campus," Pearl said.

And the program, Pearl said, continues to build as he returns to recruiting. He noticed that when the Auburn students showed their support.

"It speaks to Auburn," he said. "It looked to me that most of the students were there recognized that I had been out for a while and understood it was difficult and they were there just to sort of support me like our coaching staff and out players. It wasn’t a fan thing. But it seemed like they knew me, they knew my circumstance, they wanted to show me support. That doesn’t happen everywhere; it happens at Auburn."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: