You can count Charles Barkley among the many people impressed by how good Alabama and USC look in the NCAA Tournament right now. But the Auburn alum had some insight into being a basketball player at a “football school” that makes him extra impressed.
During Saturday’s coverage of the NCAA Tournament, Barkley acknowledged how difficult a job coaches like Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, Alabama’s Nate Oats and USC’s Andy Enfield have to succeed at schools where football is the dominant sport. He recalled how while he was at Auburn, the basketball team would rarely get talked about when anything was happening with the football team.
“One reason I admire Bruce Pearl and coach Oats at Alabama and Andy, when you’re at a school where basketball doesn’t matter, it’s very difficult,” Barkley said, via 247Sports. “I love Auburn, but we’re like between spring football, regular season and offseason football before they talk about basketball. It’s tough in those situations.”
Pearl, Oats and Enfield have all enjoyed some tremendous success in recent years. Just two years ago, Pearl had the Tigers in the Final Four. Oats and Enfield are current in the middle of their own NCAA Tournament runs.
— 247Sports (@247Sports) March 21, 2021
Auburn is certainly a lot better off now than they were when Charles Barkley was their feature player. It took until his senior season in 1984 for the Tigers to reach their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
The task has remained difficult for Auburn in the decades since Barkley left. Since 2000 they have just four NCAA Tournament appearances.
Alabama and USC have just two conference tournament titles between them in the past 25 years.
But the groundwork is there for all three of those football schools to have powerful basketball programs for years to come.