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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Will SEC coaches pull the trigger on basketball changes?

There is real movement towards realignment to the structure of SEC men’s basketball. At least that’s if you believe Mark Fox and Billy Donovan.

The league is debating here whether to get rid of its division format, go to 18 games and change its schedule. And unlike last year, when tournament re-seeding was voted down, Fox expects there to be action.

“If I would have to guess, I would guess there’s a lot of momentum for change,” Fox said.

The Georgia head coach said he supports change.

“I think we have to look very hard at going away from being in divisions,” he said. “For the health of our league, I think we have to look at it.”

It’s unknown if there are enough votes among the 12 coaches to make that drastic a change. And even if they are, logistics then have to be worked out: Who would each team play every year, how would they rotate the schedule, and how would the tournament be seeded.

The schedule could be a really thorny issue, considering one team – Kentucky – brings in a lot of revenue wherever they play.

Donovan, the Florida head coach, had perhaps the day’s most interesting idea: Instead of seeding the SEC tournament by record, do it by RPI ranks. It would help encourage teams to schedule better, Donovan mused.

Donovan also referred so off-handedly to the schedule going to 18 games that it made you think it was almost a certainty. But he may have been misunderstood.

Re-seeding the SEC tournament still seems the most likely change to come out of these meetings. The vote last year against doing so was 6-6, but as Fox pointed out, “some of the coaches have changed.”

“It’s something we’ve talked about for a couple years,” Donovan said. “I don’t know if anybody feels that we’ve got it solved, here’s the solution to this.”

It’s still very possible that nothing much tangible will be passed. Coaches may prove resistant to change when they get in their meetings and have to pull the trigger on realignment.

But heading in, it does seem like the appetite is there to at least discuss big changes.

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