DESTIN, Fla. - The SEC appears to be closing in on formats for scheduling and the SEC tournament, according to coaches who emerged from their meeting here at the Hilton.
This would be the schedule for the the SEC tournament:
- The top four teams would get a bye to the first two rounds, rather than the first round, as is now the case.
- Teams seeded No. 5 through No. 10 would also get byes in the first round.
- In the first round, the No. 11 seed would play the No. 14, and the No. 12 would play No. 13. And then the tournament would start as it has in the past.
Now, the proposed schedule format, which would be in effect for the next three years, and then be re-visited:
- Each team would have ONE permanent rival, which it would play home-and-home over the next three years. Florida's Billy Donovan said his team would play Kentucky each year. That would mean Georgia wouldn't get its first choice of Florida twice each year. Georgia head coach Mark Fox wouldn't say whether his team's permanent opponent would be. Fox still wants it to be Florida, but it may be out of his hands.
- The four other schools that SEC teams play twice a year would rotate over the next three years. That way, over the next three years, each team would play every other team twice a year at least once.
But Donovan and Fox said the SEC is also studying a "tiering" model: Basically, the top teams would play each other twice, the bottom teams would play each other twice. The idea there would be to help the top teams' RPI rating, and the bottom teams' won-loss record.
"It's a way of making the schedule a little easier for the lower teams, and maybe the top teams duke it out," Fox said. "Probably in theory everybody ends up bunched together."
It may seem a radical approach, but the Big East has tried it. And Fox isn't opposed.
"I think there's some merit in looking to see what's the best thing," he said. "But I think we need to study it."
But to repeat, this all appears to be a three-year plan.
"I think they're looking at this model as being a three-year model," Donovan said.
Fox seemed exasperated by all the work involved in trying to make the 14-team schedules work.