Frankly, I'd be surprised to see Pearl go anywhere in the SEC besides back to UT.
If I understand it correctly, that cushy little VP of marketing job at a wholesaler in Knoxville was essentially a booster favor that accomplished 2 things for a guy who is certainly not qualified for the position.
First, it serves as a kind of severance package so his family can maintain the standard of living they'd grown accustomed to while he was making bank as a major DI coach.
And second, for the booster and UT's interests, it kept Pearl and his family in Knoxville; and I would not be at all surprised if it came with a condition that Pearl give UT a chance to rehire him before he listens to anyone else.
Judging from the discontent with Cuonzo, it seems like the situation is setting up to replace him with Pearl as soon as his show-cause expires.
I agree with the fans, though, they're not getting enough to keep the fans happy. The kind of system Grant runs typically has the stifling defense set up turnovers and lots of transition points, but for whatever reason, Bama can't seem to acquire scorers to make that happen the way it's designed.
I can't agree about the in-state talent, though, because just having the talent is useless if it just bolts the state for what it perceives as greener pastures anyway.
I see mention of Cousins and Bledsoe, but those were never going anywhere but UK, no matter who was coaching. They had agendas, and they went to the 1 place they were certain those plans would be welcome.
Cousins was committed to UAB before Grant was even hired at Bama, and then decommitted and committed to Cal while Cal was still at Memphis. He then followed Cal to UK; there was no way he was going anywhere else, despite the excitement swirling around the Bama program with the hiring of Grant.
Both Cousins and Bledsoe were in the 2009 class, and Grant wasn't even hired until March of 2009; so he never had a realistic chance of developing relationships with those guys as Bama's coach and keeping them home... hell, Gottfried probably had a better relationship with them than Grant at that stage of the recruiting process.