Does anyone know why the SEC is bad? I am sure some will blame football, but the South's love affair with football hasn't hurt the SEC in baseball. College athletics are not like high school, where overlapping sports share players.
The SEC basketball teams get their players and the SEC football teams have their own players.
Others will say that the SEC athletic administrations are not committed to winning basketball. But is that true? Where is the evidence? Let's look at facilities.
Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt and South Carolina have new or legendary arenas. Many other schools have been recently renovated their arenas. Most schools in the SEC now have separate practice facilities for basketball as well.
Is the problem that SEC schools don't invest in coaches? Everyone knows Calipari and Donovan are elite coaches. Frank Martin, Mike Anderson and Andy Kennedy all had success in other power conferences. In addition, the coaching salaries are comparable to the other conferences.
The region is not short on quality basketball players.
Yet, the SEC recruiting classes outside of Kentucky and Florida are consistently ranked outside of the top 20. I don't know why that is such a problem considering the success the SEC is having overall as a conference, but I have a theory.
The SEC coaches are guilty of bad scheduling. As a result, recruits don't see the SEC playing elite competition in front of excited crowds like they did when LSU was playing Georgetown in the Superdome or Arkansas was playing UNLV and Tark the Shark.
SEC coaches are trying so hard to get to 20 wins by scheduling 12 automatic wins out of conference that they rarely play against quality opponents. The SEC football coaches and baseball coaches can get away with this because the conference schedule is so brutal and interesting.
The same is not true in basketball.
Instead, maybe the SEC basketball coaches need to push their programs beyond mediocrity in scheduling. Schedule interesting games and see if that draws the interest of fans and recruits. Another result of improved scheduling may be that the selection committee will give SEC teams the benefit of the doubt come selection time.
I don’t know who has the answer to what will turn around the SEC in basketball, and it may not be me.
What I am sure of is that what has been happening in recent history is not working, and there is no excuse for these results in a conference like the SEC.