Bruce Pearl crushes Skip Bayless in Vandy-Tennessee debate

Jeff Eisenberg
April 15, 2010

ESPN's Skip Bayless may be one of the smarmiest personalities on TV today, but his schtick of spouting ridiculous opinions for the sake of being contrary made for a lively segment with Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl on Wednesday.

Since Bayless is a proud Vanderbilt alum and Pearl has never turned down a chance to promote Tennessee basketball on national TV, the two engaged in a spirited debate during Wednesday's "First Take" on ESPN2. Pearl wasn't afraid to provide some future bulletin board material when defending the merits of his program over Vanderbilt.

"Head to head against them, we have a winning record," Pearl said. "They've beaten us at our place one time, we beat them at their place a couple times. Over the last three or four years we've won seven NCAA tournament games; over the last three years Vanderbilt hasn't won a game.

"We average 20,000 (attendance), they average about 12. We play on a court where the benches are actually on the sidelines, not in the end zone. . . . I think our program is ahead of Vanderbilt's."

As is his custom, Bayless got more absurd as he got louder, countering that Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings does more with less talent than Pearl and "would never stoop to painting his chest gold and sitting in the student section."

Responded Pearl, "Kevin Stallings does a phenomenal job, but I'm telling you right now, if there's a Tennessee kid with a chance to go to Tennessee or Vanderbilt, he's going to Tennessee."