College Sports

Film study for Auburn’s Bruce Pearl while he was out of coaching included “The Help”

Auburn Tigers practice for Sweet 16 game against North Carolina

Watch the Auburn Tigers take the court Thursday morning, March 28, 2019 at the Sprint Center to practice for their NCAA Midwest Regional Sweet 16 game against North Carolina on Friday.
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Watch the Auburn Tigers take the court Thursday morning, March 28, 2019 at the Sprint Center to practice for their NCAA Midwest Regional Sweet 16 game against North Carolina on Friday.

When Bruce Pearl talks about The Help, he’s not referring to defense.

The 2011 movie “The Help,” about an aspiring white author who writes a book during the 1960s civil rights movement about black maids’ point of view working for white families, was on Pearl’s mind Thursday.

Pearl was out of coaching that year, having been fired at Tennessee for NCAA violations, and he said watching that movie starring Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone, reminded him of what he missed about coaching: fighting for a cause.

“That movie came out when I was not in coaching,” Pearl said. “And what was going on in Mississippi with the maids, that was a fight I was fighting for many years back in the ‘70s and ‘80s when I was a young coach. There was a lot more segregation, there was a lot more racism, antisemitism. It still exists but worse then.

“Really worked to fight that fight and to see opportunity and equality change. And I missed those aspects of working with our student athletes and helping them realize their goals and dreams.”

Fifth-seeded Auburn meets top-seeded North Carolina on Friday in the Midwest Regional semifinal at the Sprint Center.

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