Monday, April 2, 2012

Bruce Pearl and Jimmy Collins call a truce

After a decades long grudge, former Illinois basketball assistant Jimmy Collins has forgiven former Tennessee head basketball coach, Bruce Pearl.

I wouldn't exactly call Collins forgiving Pearl but he did accept Pearl's apology when the two ran into each other in New Orleans Friday night.

If you don't know the story I'll give a cliff notes version of it. Pearl was an assistant at Iowa back in 1989 and Collins was an assistant at Illinois. Both schools were in a heated recruiting battle over the services of Chicago native Deon Thomas.

Pearl secretly recorded a conversation where Collins alledgedly offered thomas $80,000 and a Chevy Blazer. Illinois was hit with probation, Pearl and Collins were never on good terms, and Pearl eventually climbed the coaching ladder to Tennessee while Collins could only land the top job at Illinois-Chicago. Collins never bit his tongue when asked how he felt about Pearl and held a serious grudge against him. 

Eventually Pearl was done in at Tennessee for his own recruiting troubles and lying to NCAA investigators in a classic case of what goes around comes around.

Now it seems the two have made amends this past weekend.

"I saw Jimmy just before dinner about 7 p.m. on Friday; I put my hand out, and he shook it," Pearl, the former Tennessee men's basketball coach, said Sunday. "I told him I'm really sorry about what we all went through, and that Deon Thomas was a victim and there were a lot of victims.

"My apology was it was unfortunate it happened, and it hurt people, ultimately, including me."

" ... I looked up, he was walking toward me," Collins told "When he got to me, he started to apologize for what had happened. He made it clear that he was young and didn't understand things. He ended up saying he really felt bad because he knew Deon Thomas got hurt.

"The truth of the matter was it was fine. It was a guy who had gone through some changes, and as he's gotten older, he realized some things were wrong, and he apologized for it."

"I let it go; there's nothing I can do with what happened then," he said. "I'm not going around with a lot of hate in my heart. I'm not going to hold a grudge all your life."

I can see why Collins was cold as ice to Pearl, but it was the unspoken oath that Pearl broke that caused the rift between the two. Maybe after what Pearl went through at the end of his Tennessee tenure he could see what he did wrong. At least he reached out to Collins and wanted to make it right.

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