Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

COURTURE; Some Basketball Coaches Sit on Sideline of Fashion

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

COURTURE; Some Basketball Coaches Sit on Sideline of Fashion

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE -- Bruce Pearl never will be featured on the cover of GQ magazine.

He probably couldn't get a spot in a Kmart ad, either.

But that's OK with the Tennessee men's basketball coach. He's comfortable with his courtside look during games.

"I'm not much of a fashion king," said Pearl, a salt-and-pepper-haired 42-year-old from Boston. "I could probably make an Armani look bad."

Pearl's self-deprecation comes from his knowing violation of two of the most important fashion rules:

Never let them see you sweat.

And never wear a color that can be found on a road-side barricade.

Pearl has trouble with both, and that suddenly has made coaches' wardrobes a talked-about topic around the Southeastern Conference. In addition to wins, losses and NCAA Tournament berths, fans, coaches and media members are discussing suits, fabrics and color combinations.

The chatter began Feb. 1, when Pearl wore a bright orange suit jacket for Tennessee's home game against Vanderbilt. The garish garment is a tribute to former Volunteers basketball coach Ray Mears, who used to wear a similar jacket during his tenure in Knoxville during the 1960s and 1970s.

The flamboyant Mears established Vanderbilt and Kentucky as Tennessee's biggest basketball rivals, so Pearl decided to wear an orange jacket, which he received from athletic director Mike Hamilton, each time the Vols play those schools. Pearl pairs it with an orange-and-white striped tie, a white collared shirt and black pants.

Whew.

"Mike Hamilton had one [orange jacket], and we thought I could use it for an occasional booster function -- or if I was ever going to get a job as a sanitation worker or an orange barrel out on the highway," Pearl joked. "I'd like to wear it for everybody, but I don't think my wife would accept that as an option."

She might after what happened Wednesday night in Gainesville. Pearl sweated through his olive green pants and suit jacket during Tennessee's 76-72 victory over Florida. Pearl's pants were drenched from the knees down, and the shoulders, arms and back of his jacket were soaked, too.

"It was just awful," Pearl said. "I took it off in the locker room, and one of the team managers actually broke out some sweat pants, and I changed [for the flight home]. You could have wrung it out, and you would have gotten a glass of water."

Still, there's a chance to salvage the green suit, Pearl said.

"I sweat sweet," he joked. "It's not a stinky sweat at all. My son sweats stinky, but I don't."

Believe it or not, Pearl actually is a trend-setter in the SEC -- but not with his sweating. Pearl's orange jacket inspired Alabama's Mark Gottfried to try something similar.

Thankfully, Alabama's colors are crimson and white, so the crimson jacket that Gottfried wore during the Crimson Tide's victory over Tennessee last Saturday wasn't as hard on the eyes. …

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