Is Barbee practicing his stand-up routine or is he visiting some alternative universe? Next we'll hear some coach claiming that the ACC is the best football conference in America.
Somebody do a little research and find out just what Auburn hoops coach Tony Barbee has been smoking. The hot-seat-strapped coach made the following mind-boggling statement yesterday at SEC Media Days:
“The SEC is the best basketball league in the country, period. Look at the national titles we’ve won since, I think you’re talking the modern game, ’97. We’ve won the most national titles as a league over any league. I think that speaks for itself. Look at the pros that this league puts out. I think all of those things speak for itself.”
Well, I’m sure I speak for many when I say Barbee is attempting to sell that which cannot be sold. First, his math is wrong as the ACC has collected five national crowns to the SEC’s four since 1997. Second, he’s basically talking about two schools — Kentucky and Florida — when trying to push SEC strength in “the modern game.” (Does anyone believe the modern era of college basketball began in 1997?)
There’s a common argument from folks outside the SEC that goes like this: The rest of the Southeastern Conference can’t take credit for the football national championships won by a few SEC schools. The trouble is, the SEC has been uber-deep in football. Since the dawn of the BCS era in 1998, five different league members (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU and Tennessee) have won national crowns. That’s more than one-third of the current SEC members. And that’s nine BCS titles in 15 years overall. That is what it means to be “the best league in the country, period.”
But in basketball, Kentucky has won three titles since 1996 and Florida has won two. No other SEC team has claimed first prize. Check the NBA’s rosters and you’ll find they’re dotted with — you guessed it — ex-Wildcats and ex-Gators. The SEC has had no true depth on a national scale.
Look, here’s hoping the SEC can kick things up a notch on the hardwood this winter. But to even try to present the Southeastern Conference as the nation’s best in basketball is pure folly. It’s foolish. It’s crazy.
And it may just be the talk of a man desperately trying to convince his own fanbase (and boss) that his rebuilding efforts have taken longer than expected because of the level of tough competition he’s faced within his own league. Unfortunately for Barbee, here’s guessing Auburn AD Jay Jacobs won’t buy that spin anymore than yours truly.
You can see Barbee’s comments from SEC Media Days right here on our Overtime page.