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Bruce Pearl entertains on fun night for Auburn students
Oct. 30, 2014

Gus, Bruce Pearl plays to the crowd at Pearl Jam

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  And so he came out of the darkness, the last to be introduced in Auburn Arena, wearing a sweater vest, visor, glasses and holding a picture board to signal in plays.

"I just want to be like Gus!" Bruce Pearl said to cheers at his Pearl Jam on Thursday night, an event for Auburn students, and a chance for the Tigers' new basketball coach to intermingle with his new fans.

A Gus Malzahn impersonation was a good place to start. A better place to start was to get permission from the head football coach.

"There was no way I was going to do this without Coach Malzahn's blessing," Pearl smiled.

Auburn treated the students to free food, a little basketball practice, prizes, cheers, dancing and the always-entertaining Pearl, a basketball coach and master of ceremonies whose job was to keep the students enthused. 

He did, all 2,500 students who filled the lower level seats around Auburn Arena with his banter, to changing his Malzahn wardrobe to a "Fear the Jungle" t-shirt to back Malzahn again. 

Before it was over, Pearl was asking for louder cheers. When it was over, he posed for photos with all who wanted one. 

Photo Gallery

In between, he told the students that all the season tickets to Auburn Arena were sold out. And he said there should be a full house for the Tigers' exhibition game against West Alabama on Nov. 7, the night before the football team plays Texas A&M across the street.  

He played to his crowd, introducing guests. "Let's hear for the Auburn football team!" 

He also asked for the students' help.

"The most important fans that we can possibly have in this arena is the best student body in the entire country," he said. "These are your seats. We are your team. We're a little shorthanded in our first year, but you're going to make all the difference in the world for us."

When it was over, after the cheers and the music played, he said "it was a phenomenal turnout, more than I anticipated. They stayed all the way through, they were loud, they were enthusiastic. 
"With a sixth-man like this, with a home-court advantage, it will inspire our players, it could intimidate some opponents," Pearl said.

Oh, there were prizes that slowly got better, all the way to a 51-inch television. 

Oh, and there was basketball.

"We're going to keep getting better," Pearl said. "I believe this team can go to the post-season."

He then asked his players to stand on the court. He then asked the students to join them, to stand behind them, as it were, to show support.

They did.

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



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