How good is Auburn now?

New Auburn coach Bruce Pearl's three-year NCAA show-cause penalty ended last week. AP Photo/Butch Dill

Usually when we're asked what's about to happen in sports, we have to shrug our shoulders and say it's anyone's guess. But every once in a while, history has the courtesy to repeat itself more or less precisely. In theory that should make forecasting a much more straightforward exercise. Repeat: "in theory."

Which brings me to new Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. For the second time in just nine years, Pearl is taking the helm at a previously moribund SEC program. (This is getting to be a habit with him.) In 2005-06 he took over a Tennessee team coming off a 6-10 season in conference play.

Pearl promptly set to work stiffening what had previously been a lackluster Volunteers defense. Thanks to the new coach's pressing style, UT forced way more turnovers and allowed fewer points. That first season the Volunteers went 12-4 in conference play and entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed.

Now Pearl is the newly installed head coach at Auburn, which is coming off a 6-12 campaign in SEC play. And he's already off to a somewhat stunning run in recruiting. But that won't help much in 2014-15. So can we expect to see a Tennessee-variety turnaround from the Tigers this season? Probably not. But that doesn't mean we won't see improvement.