Proving that expansion can be cumbersome — especially if you’re averse to doing what’s simply for the best of the league instead of what’s best for individual schools — the Southeastern Conference is reportedly considering a return to divisional play in basketball even though that option was said to have been ruled out months ago.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, the league brought one 18-game scheduling format to Destin for the league’s coaches to discuss. Okay. But far more ominous is this: “The SEC voted last year to eliminate divisions but that seems to be back in consideration with two new schools joining the conference.”
Mike Slive, however, said that he’d not heard of a 19-game proposal that would lead to each school playing its division foes home and away while playing the seven teams from the opposite division once each. Here’s hoping it stays that way, but the commish told The Macon Telegraph that more proposals could be looked at later in the week.
There’s a simple solution here, people, and we floated it months ago — 18 games, nine at home, nine on the road, four permanent home and away opponents (based on traditional rivalries and geography), one rotating home and away opponent, and eight games against the league’s remaining teams. We called it the 4-1-8 plan back in January. Such a plan would work and it would answer issues like those brought up yesterday by Georgia coach Mark Fox:
“The issue we’re having is nobody’s ever had a 14-team league. So we really don’t know the answer. So what’s the best way to do it.
Cal (Kentucky’s John Calipari) talked about that. It’s a real challenge. It’s brand new territory.
I think that Georgia, obviously, has a great rivalry with Florida,” he said. “It covers all sports. It’s not just basketball; it’s the school’s rival. It’s very natural. Football has a game every with Auburn that’s played every year. I think we have natural rivals for schools. It’s determined sport by sport. But will that fit in our model? Hopefully.”
Yes, hopefully the SEC will base future scheduling as much on tradition as on anything else. Will league leaders be wise enough to do that — and not let this project by hijacked by coaches and ADs who are each looking for the easiest schedule for themselves — well, I’m not real confident in that.