Bruce Pearl gives emotional interview after Auburn wins SEC Tournament

Bruce Pearl Delivers Heartfelt Interview Following Auburn’s Triumph in SEC Tournament

Before Bruce Pearl took the helm as Auburn’s basketball coach in 2014, he was already known for wearing his heart on his sleeve, openly expressing his emotions in any situation.

As Auburn clinched the SEC Tournament championship on a Sunday, Pearl freely displayed his emotions. During the final moments of Auburn’s 86-67 win over Florida for the conference title at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, ESPN’s cameras captured an emotional Pearl on the sidelines.

In a post-game interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith, Pearl shared the deeper significance of the victory, following the passing of his father, Bernie, in August at the age of 88. Pearl described his late father as his greatest supporter.

Pearl expressed his gratitude, saying, “Auburn really showed up today. I have to thank my father. I’m just so proud of the players. We played incredibly well. Florida was a formidable opponent. That’s the reason for my emotions. I wish he could have been here to see this.”

Bernie Pearl had a strong connection to the Auburn program. Despite his Boston roots, Bruce Pearl mentioned that his father had inquired whether Auburn fans would mind if he were buried in a Tigers jersey, despite never attending the school.

“He was a devoted man,” Pearl said in an interview with Auburn’s athletics website after his father’s passing. “He was thankful to Auburn for giving our family the chance to lead this basketball program. He never missed a game, whether watching or listening.”

The SEC Tournament title marks only the third in Auburn’s history, with the previous one in 2019 leading to the team’s first-ever Final Four appearance. This victory brought Auburn’s season record to 27-7, making it the fourth most wins in a single season for the team. Under Pearl’s guidance, Auburn has seen five of its six most successful seasons.

As Pearl reflected on the achievement, the statistics were secondary to him. He thought about his players, his father, and the values his father instilled in him.

“My dad was a hard worker,” Pearl said. “He worked six days a week and dedicated the seventh to prayer. We didn’t have much, but it was enough. I always thought my dad was the best. I wish every kid could have that. It’s one of the reasons I push these guys so hard. My dad set high standards for me, and I do the same for them.”