When it comes to college football, the SEC is considered the best conference because it has won more championships than any other conference over the past 20 years. When it comes to basketball, the conference is firmly in the shadows of the ACC and Big East. According to most college basketball predictions, an ACC or Big East team is favored to win the championship again next season. If that happens, it will be the fifth consecutive year an ACC team or Big East (and former Big East) school won the championship.
Even though SEC member Kentucky won the championship in 2012 and was the runner up in 2014, the SEC hasn’t been getting a lot of recognition as a college basketball powerhouse. A lot of it is due to the fact that Kentucky is the only team in the conference that is considered a legitimate contender because head coach John Calipari usually has one of the best recruiting classes ever since he got to Lexington.
The SEC is serious about improving the way it is perceived when it comes to college basketball, and the conference showed how serious it was by hiring former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese as a special advisor to the commissioner for men’s basketball.
Tranghese is now charged with turning the SEC’s basketball fortunes around. According to reports, Tranghese spoke with coaches and commissioners from SEC schools this week at the league meetings, drawing praise for his plans to the league’s basketball teams close the gap on their football teams.
Last season, the SEC had three teams invited to the NCAA tournament, making it the third time in the past four years that the conference only had three teams in the tournament. By comparison, the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12 all seven teams in the tournament this year.
The disparity in the amount of bids received by the SEC and the other major conferences shows that the SEC is not considered a top basketball conference. Tranghese believes the conference is capable of doing more than it has in the past.
Tranghese has some plans to build the SEC’s college basketball reputation, and it starts with scheduling games against some of the best teams in the top conferences. Tranghese also wants teams to figure out how to start winning their important non-conference matchups and he wants the coaches to work together to expand the conference’s brand.
Some of the ways Tranghese wants the coaches to work together include embracing late games on television instead of complaining about them. Tranghese also expects the coaches to use football as a recruiting tool to help teams attract better talent to the conference.
As an example, Tranghese said that if he were recruiting a player to come to an SEC school, he would make sure to invite the prospect to visit during a weekend where there is a conference rivalry game like Alabama vs. Tennessee being played.
Tranghese believes that SEC schools need to use all the tools they have to their advantage when it comes to recruiting, so if being part of a big rivalry game is one of the tools that a team has, the team needs to use it to its advantage.