SEC down but Bright future ahead

February 17th, 2009

With all the talk this year that the SEC is down I still have to believe they will get five teams into the big dance. However, I would be oblivious to the fact, if I didn't think the SEC is having a substandard year as compared to years in the past. The media outlets are (to use the proverbial saying) "kicking them while their down" this year but I say let the talking heads have their "hoopla" and ballyhoo and continually show the SEC disrespect because it's about to change and it starts next year.

Next year begins the ESPN/SEC 2.25 billion dollar TV deal that gives ESPN the rights for every basketball/football game not held by CBS for the next 15 years. The deal will effectively triple the number of nationally televised SEC basketball games and make them the most hyped conference on the four letter network. All national programming on ESPN will be branded as the "SEC on ESPN". You may ask why is this important? Recruiting my friend, no other conference will be so branded on television. Imagine Kentucky and Florida being pushed as intense as Duke and North Carolina. New recruits want to be in the national spotlight now the SEC has given them an ample opportunity.

Besides the new TV contract influx of new coaches, young recruits, and Florida having to rebuild after championship success has lead to the SEC being the lowest rank of the power house conferences. Billy Gillispie will be entering his third season at Kentucky and with a couple big name recruits (Orton, Hood) to go along with Meeks and Patterson we may be looking at a top 5 team. One would have to believe Donovan and Johnson will have the Gators and Tigers much improved going into next year. Pearl has done wonders with recruiting at Tennessee and should have them back near the top coming off a disappointing year they are currently having. Kevin Stallings brought Vanderbilt a great recruiting class this year and by the time they are sophomores they will be in the upper echelon of the SEC.

With the coaching vacancies of Georgia and Alabama there is opportunity to bring in some top notch talent to facilitate their rebuilding.

All the power conferences have a down year once in awhile. The SEC has been taking their licks this year but I feel they have some instrumental pieces that will have them back to the zenith of college basketball. After all the more tools you have in your tool shed the more stuff you can build. ESPN has given the SEC a rather large tool so let's watch and see what they create with it.