During Monday’s three-stop sojourn as part of the Big Orange Caravan, coach Bruce Pearl announced his engagement to Brandy Miller.
Miller is a Sevierville native and Sevierville was one of the three destinations on Monday, along with Greeneville and Kingsport.
“You know what, I’ve been engaged for a week but I just happened to be in her hometown this morning,” Pearl said at Allandale Mansion. “People, I’ve always tried to have a close relationship with our fans but if it endears me more to our fans in East Tennessee that I fell in love with an East Tennessee girl, so be it.”
Pearl didn’t surrender many details about the proposal. When asked how he popped the question, the coach quipped, “On one knee, like everybody else does.”
Prompted for additional details, Pearl said the proposal was between his fiancée and him.
Significant changes abound for Pearl on the professional front as well. Three new coaches have entered the Southeastern Conference — chief among them John Calipari at Kentucky. And Tyler Smith’s announced entry into the NBA draft has forced Pearl to comprise two makeshift rosters — one with the standout forward and one without. Smith, who has yet to hire an agent, could return to UT.
“I think you absolutely plan either way. And that’s why, we’re prepared either way,” Pearl said. “We’re going to be a great team with Tyler. We’ll be really good without him. We’re going to be really competitive either way.”
Either way, the roster should include Melvin Goins, a transfer from the junior-college ranks slated to push Bobby Maze for playing time at point guard.
Though Tennessee will return the lion’s share of the talent from last season’s SEC East championship team, Pearl acknowledged the Calipari-led Kentucky team will pose a major challenge.
“If Patrick Patterson and (Jodie) Meeks come back, to go along with the recruiting class that they have … they could be a top-10, top-five pick next year,” Pearl said. “We return enough guys that know how tough it is to play at Rupp, that know what the rivalry is all about, and obviously maybe know we didn’t beat them this year. Even though we finished ahead of them, we didn’t beat them. That’s something that definitely kind of gets stuck in my throat. I can’t even really say it.”
Regardless, the Vols have made significant strides in the hoops rivalry against the Wildcats.
“No team has ever finished ahead of Kentucky four straight years. Tennessee did that,” Pearl said. “If I’d have said that we could’ve done that four years ago, people would’ve laughed at us. And they should’ve. I just hope they’re enjoying that. As much as they should. I’m sure in certain parts of the state that are near that Kentucky border, they’re probably enjoying it plenty.”