In mid-February we did a poll of Tennessee and asked a bunch of questions about sports in the state. We never got around to releasing the results but with all the speculation about Bruce Pearl's future going on right now it seems like a good time:
-We found that Pearl had a 57/15 favorability rating with those describing themselves as fans of the Vols and that 62% of the school's fans wanted him to stay as coach to only 11% who thought he should be fired. Obviously today's game was a disaster. But when we conducted this poll fans were already well aware of Pearl's indiscretions with the NCAA (he had served his suspension) and the team was already having a pretty disappointing season. I think it's safe to say that Pearl has the strong support of his fan base. Pearl's popularity with the school's fans didn't seem to be affected all that much by everything that's happened in the last year. If he gets fired that's more the AD trying to wash his hands than a reflection of a fan base that wants him to go.
-Pearl may be in pretty good standing with Tennessee fans but we found the most popular of the state's major basketball coaches with his own fans was Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings. 76% of the Commodores' backers have a favorable opinion of Stallings to only 2% with a negative one. To put into perspective how good those numbers are Roy Williams' favorability with UNC fans breaks down at 64/3 and Mike Krzyzewski's with Duke fans is 77/8. It would be hard to find a coach more popular with his own fan base than Stallings anywhere in the country. Memphis coach Josh Pastner's favorability spread is +42 at 54/12 with Tigers fans, matching Pearl's net numbers.
-Lane Kiffin may well be the most hated man in the state of Tennessee. Only 6% of voters in the state have a positive opinion of him to 56% with a negative one. Among just fans of the Volunteers his favorability is 6/71. Fans seem to think Derek Dooley has the program headed in the right direction- his numbers break down at 72% positive to 5% negative with Vols backers. Those are even better figures than former coach Phil Fulmer who won a national championship at the school has. 65% of Tennessee fans give him good marks to 12% expressing a negative opinion.
Full results of our Tennessee sports poll here