Bruce Pearl scheduling game most coaches wouldn't cost Auburn basketball early-season ranking

Bruce Pearl's ambitious scheduling cost his Auburn basketball an early-season ranking, says one analyst.

Dec 17, 2023; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Auburn Tigers head coach Bruce Pearl talks to a game official
Dec 17, 2023; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Bruce Pearl talks to a game official / John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
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CBS Sports' Gary Parrish believes Bruce Pearl's ambitious decision to schedule App State in an early-season non-conference road matchup likely cost the head coach's Auburn basketball program an early-season ranking despite blowing out Bronny James and USC on December 17, 91-75, at the Neville Arena.

"The Tigers beat Bronny James and the Trojans 91-75 on Sunday to improve to 8-2 on the season," Parrish prefaced before saying, "If not for Auburn coach Bruce Pearl scheduling a game at Appalachian State earlier this month that most high-major coaches would never schedule, Auburn would likely already be in the AP poll. But Pearl did schedule that game, and his Tigers lost it, so AP voters have largely ignored them.
Which is understandable."

Regarding the Tigers not being ranked in December, well, that doesn't matter. College basketball regular season rankings only matter come Selection Sunday, and they still might not match up one-to-one with the final bracket.

Auburn basketball fans showed Bronny James respect in unique way

The atmosphere at the Neville Arena for USC was a bit more than a typical non-conference game in December. Kyle Korver was in town, Savannah James was in attendance to see her son, and the crowd responded to Pearl's request to bring an Animal House type energy to the arena.

As AL.com's Joseph Goodman noted, the amplified boos of a Neville Arena that was packed to the gills all the way up to standing room only was a sign of respect to the son of the "king."

"People in Auburn who were maybe hoping to see LeBron James on Sunday instead booed his son when he stepped out onto the court," Goodman prefaced before saying, "Well done, Jungle.

"Fans are going to be fans, and at Auburn the rowdy basketball crowd has a reputation to maintain. The boos for Bronny James were more of a proper welcome to Neville Arena than a sign of disrespect."

The event was a spectacle, and another game, like the App State matchup, that took some hutzpah to schedule on Pearl's part.