Everyone knows that the SEC is going to look different this season. Gone are the Kentucky starters. In are Missouri and Texas A&M. But that's not what I'm referencing here.
It's the coaches.
There are 14 schools in the SEC. Billy Donovan is the conference elder, having coached at Florida for 16 seasons. Kevin Stallings has been right there most of that time too. He's been at Vanderbilt for 13 years. Can you name the third longest tenured SEC coach?
It's Andy Kennedy at Ole Miss. He's a "veteran" of six SEC seasons.
After that there are thirteen coaches with a combined experience of fifteen seasons.
So, what does that mean for the SEC? First, the SEC is a football conference, and basketball is (mostly) taken pretty lightly. And second, it shows. Every year Ken Pomeroy ranks the conferences, measuring their total strength – that is, how they are from top to bottom. Obviously the SEC has Kentucky and Florida, and Vanderbilt and Tennessee are on the next tier. But overall, the SEC has gone five straight seasons never finishing better than the 4th best conference according to Pomeroy. Hence the vast number of inexperienced coaches.
But now several Big East teams have jumped ship, and the SEC has brought in two good teams from the Big 12 who were subsequently replaced with weaker teams. So it's obvious that the Big Ten and the ACC are going to remain elite. But not so much for the rest of the conferences. With smart hires, and a transfer of some of that football cash to the basketball programs, the SEC has the potential to join the upper echelon. But will they? Or will it continue to be Kentucky, Florida, and everyone else.
Here's the list:
|Ole Miss||Andy Kennedy||6|
|Texas A&M||Billy Kennedy||1|
|Mississippi State||Rick Ray||0|
|South Carolina||Frank Martin||0|