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Dead on Arrival

The reality of a given situation does not always present itself immediately. Our sundry of senses do not automatically keep up with one another, and some of us simply lack any notion of sense altogether. Take a dead body, for instance. Sure, you can look at it and instantly process the grimness at hand, but it may not fully register until you feel the cold, stiff, lifeless figure. If not, the waft of decomposition will surely drive the point home.

Which brings us to SEC basketball, which for years has been rotting in a shallow grave but this season’s exhumation has produced particularly grotesque conclusions. Here, we have 14 large, cash-heavy universities, each with its own gymnasium complete with seats, a roof, a wooden floor, goals, uniforms both home and away…everything a basketball team would need to play basketball. They even have rosters of Division I scholarship athletes, some of which are good enough to play professionally! And yet, reality: 12 of these teams are not good enough to compete in the NCAA Tournament.


It’s not unusual for the SEC to be laden with bad basketball, hell, it’s almost like a celebrated nick-nack. Football is the religion here, basketball merely an offseason syndicate. Half empty arenas have become part of the charm but belies the fact that historically, the league is right there with the other big dogs in final fours, national champs and NBA talent.

Top heavy? Sure. We know Kentucky and Florida are always competitive while Georgia is always bad,  Auburn worse, not to mention South Carolina and I guess Texas A&M. But now that the middling mainstays like Vandy, Tennessee, Arkansas, Miss. St., Alabama, even Missouri have all plunged to the depths of desolation, it’s fair to question if this thing can ever be revived.


“It’s a down year,” they say…and have said every year for the past decade. Looking ahead, is there any reason to think the level of play will improve next season? You think Anthony Grant is finally going to get over the hump and start reeling off wins with his patented ‘hoisted three at the end of the shot-clock offense’? Or Frank Haith is suddenly going to wake up with a clue? Or that Mike Anderson will actually recruit basketball players? You think Georgia is going to make a slam dunk hire, or even care to? Of course not, and that’s why the SEC will continue to be a bottom level mid-major league sans the crammed student sections and basketball skill. A sloppy rec-league with its own network and Joe Dean, Jr. on the mic. A bunch of flight attendants on Jimmy’s Jet.


Let’s do some inventory. Currently, there are two good teams in the league with two great/proven coaches: Donovan, Calipari.

After that, you have 3 pretty good coaches who have enjoyed some level of relative success: Andy Kennedy, Kevin Stallings, Frank Martin. (Stallings has proven capable of pulling in talent and winning regular season games. Martin won at K-State and willingly inherited a shit-show, but is also a lunatic and will never win anything of significance in Columbia. Kennedy has done admirable work at a dead end gig.)

The rest are either unproven or proven to be awful, and you’d have to expect several will get canned. Barbee for sure, Mark Fox likely, Grant and Cuanzo should but it’s probably 50/50, Haith and Anderson are both awful but somehow safe and whoever coaches Miss St, LSU and A&M, well I guess “they just need time to implement whatever it is they implement.”


Name the last time an SEC team not named UK or Florida won a game of significance? 

The SEC needs action. It needs excitement. It needs bastards. It needs bombast. It needs Bruce Pearl.


[vomits blood into a Tervis]

How do you get people to look at you when you are a nobody? You yell really loudly and/or you con them. That’s what Pearl does better than anyone else in coaching, and that’s what this league needs. Just someone else to awaken a listless fanbase and make people care for a few months. Pearl should absolutely be at the top of the list for every SEC school making a hire.


Can this rotting corpse of a league be saved? I honestly don’t know. I hope so, and so should you, fellow Catfan. Not just for entertainment’s sake but for the opportunity to beat a quality opponent. Remember those from back in the day?

SEC fans—outside of Kentucky and Arkansas—have never cared about basketball but it hasn’t stopped Tennessee, Alabama, LSU and Florida from periods of success. A bombastic salesman who can nurture talent like Pearl will pay off for one school but that leaves about a dozen others still searching for an answer. Or, pretending to, anyway.

S-E-C!  S-E-C!  S-E-C!

Article written by John Dubya

The Twitter: @Johnawilk

27 Comments for Dead on Arrival

  1. joey
    8:38 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    Pretty good pose except for one mistake, when you mention good proven coaches in this league, you must put Mike Anderson on that list. He took UAB to the sweet 16, he also took Missouri to the elite eight by beating one of Cal’s best Memphis teams led by Tyreke Evans in 08. So, even though it has not showed yet at Arkansas, it was a great hire by the Hogs. Everything else though was spot on, SEC basketball just does not care enough. No way should Barbee, Grant, and Fox should still have sec coaching jobs, and if the those schools cared about hoops, then they wouldnt.

  2. Blue Jesus
    8:55 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    I think it’s not recognized enough, but the what Bruce Pearl did hurt to get himself fired hurt the whole league in a serious way, and really set it back. Cuonzo Martin seems like a good guy, but he hasn’t proven yet that he can take Tennessee to the next level. Mike Anderson is probably the next best coach in the league, but Arkansas hasn’t taken the next step. LSU has the talent to be up there, but they can’t seem to get it together. Grant at Alabama did big things at VCU and seemed like a great hire, and yet they haven’t stepped up. Mark Fox is the same way. Vandy might get back to being a decent/good squad, but probably not for another couple of years. If Mizzou hadn’t joined the league, we’d be even more of a joke league for basketball, and they’re currently an NIT team.

    I know with all our history in this league there’s no way we’d leave unless the SEC collapsed like the Big East (which can’t happen because of football), but I really wish we were an ACC school. Football could contend, and basketball would be exciting every week. UK, Duke, UNC, U of L and Syracuse are good every year. Florida State, Virginia, Miami, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Pitt, NC State, and Maryland have all had good teams within the last decade.

  3. brain
    9:01 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    Has to start with better coaches and that;s not easy at FB schools.

  4. Delk for 3
    9:06 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    Your statement that the conference has 12 teams not going to the tournament isn’t fair or probably even true. There are still about four teams on the bubble, and more than likely two of those teams will find their way in the dance. I personally don’t think the SEC is as bad as people want to think. The conference’s teams lost a lot of really close games in key non-conference matchups. For instance, LSU lost a VERY CLOSE game on a neutral floor vs. Memphis. Ole Miss lost a one possession game to K-State and an overtime loss to Oregon. South Carolina is the worst in the SEC and they were a tenth of a second away from beating Baylor. Mizzou has struggled in the SEC, but only lost once in the non-conference. Tennessee played Wichita St. competitively and whipped up on tourney bound teams in Xavier and Virginia. Sure, the SEC isn’t great but this idea that they are so weak is just not true.

    • Baylor is 9th in the Big 12.
      9:47 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

      And coming close to beating the other borderline top 25 teams you list isn’t that impressive.;

    • M
      9:58 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

      Also Missouri beat UCLA and a West Virginia team that just destroyed Iowa State. I think the conference was worse last season, and is a little better this season. 2 years ago, the conference was actually solid. There were some bad losses, but a lot of good wins. Also, the Big 10 and Big 12 have 1 championship since 1990 (when I started getting in to college bball). The SEC has 6.

    • S Diddy
      12:39 pm February 14, 2014 Permalink

      I question your math. Michigan St. (Big 10) won it in 2000 & Kansas (Big 12) won it in 2008. Article was dead-on right, SEC basketball sans UK & Florida is garbage. Cal will act like it’s the 1980’s ACC but it’s really just us wading through garbage every year, being truly tested only when we play Florida twice & go to Vande.

  5. Catdiddy
    9:11 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    Nick nack ?

  6. Yep
    9:14 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    Bruce Pearl is hanging around Knoxville for a reason. It looks as though Martin is not going to be the guy for them, and I’ll guarantee you Pearl will be making his case when the time comes. If Tennessee doesn’t hire him back they’re crazy. He’s a better coach than Calipari any day of the week.

    • MRob
      9:59 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

      What’s Cal’s record against Pearl? Yep!

  7. Double A Ron Craft Beer & BBQ
    9:29 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    2 words: Can’t wait!

  8. pfife
    9:31 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    The SEC has intervals. I remember in the 1996 NCAA tournament for instance that Mississippi State beat UCONN in Rupp to go to the final 4.

    • Rockfield, KY
      8:29 am February 14, 2014 Permalink

      LSU had that two year run with Shaq and Chris Jackson, back to back SEC POY’s in 05 and 06 and then another in 09, and the Final Four in 06. They have a good basketball tradition, just no results lately even though they’ve still had a lot of talent.

  9. The SEC is a football conference. Always has been and always will be.
    9:59 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    Along the same lines, the ACC is a basketball conference, even if FSU occasionally pulls a football title.

  10. John calipari
    10:17 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    Yes please bring Bruce back so boring without him

    • beavis
      8:02 am February 14, 2014 Permalink

      Why just Pearl? Lets bring back Lane Kiffin also. Then we could argue about which university had the two sleaziest coaches in college athletics. Still think Louisville gets the edge.

  11. Dr Suess
    11:13 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    I would disagree on a couple of points. As pointed out in another post, Mike Anderson does have a good history of coaching success at 2 other schools. I don’t think the overall coaching is that bad as far as X’s and O”s go but the recruiting is very, very bad. At least half the teams have no more than one guy that could make the UK or UF top 7 rotation. The only coach that really lacks any X and O ability is Andy Kennedy. His teams usually play without any intelligence at all. However, his talent is 3-4 in the league,

  12. BNClay
    11:30 pm February 13, 2014 Permalink

    I would like to have pearl back in the league, he is fun to root for or against. But even if he gets a job I don’t see him getting another Lofton, Chism, type pair that could put a team in the top 10.

  13. Chris Mercer
    7:58 am February 14, 2014 Permalink

    I disagree on some level. Some of the SEC schools don’t know prosperity when they see it. For instance, look at Alabama’s record under Gottfried vs. Grant. And Gottfried was fired, and hired by an ACC School?

  14. Chris Mercer
    7:59 am February 14, 2014 Permalink

    Or for that matter Auburn’s under Lebo. Vs. Barbee. Or South Carolina Horn Vs. Martin.

    • Rockfield, KY
      8:30 am February 14, 2014 Permalink

      Auburn should bring back Cliff Ellis, cheater or not.

  15. KevinM
    9:47 am February 14, 2014 Permalink

    Pearl is a liar and his career should be in public office. There’s nowhere else you can go and lie to the country’s face and have people just slop it up and call you a hero.

    Pearl doesn’t deserve a chance to teach young people anymore than Petrino. UNC might be able to find a slot for him.

  16. Old White Man in Barbershop
    11:15 am February 14, 2014 Permalink

    About LSU coach, “He beat Kentucky’s azz.”

  17. Indiana Cat
    11:18 am February 14, 2014 Permalink

    Let’s be serious, Pearl had a cookout at his house and then lied to cover it up. Who doesn’t lie every once in a while. He is a great coach and we was great for the SEC. I would love to see him and his orange blazer back at the helm for the Vols. There is no reason the SEC should be only a football conference. The Big 10 has great football and basketball teams, why can’t we?

    • STEVE!
      1:32 pm February 14, 2014 Permalink

      Pearl and UT were hit with 10 major NCAA violations. The barbeque is the only one mentioned because it was so ridiculous. He was hit with a 3-Year Show Cause by the NCAA. That’s about as serious as it gets. If UT brought him back, they would be spitting in the NCAA’s face.

    • BNClay
      6:35 pm February 14, 2014 Permalink

      As Charles Barkley once said … this is the SEC if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying.

  18. Indiana Cat
    11:20 am February 14, 2014 Permalink

    *he was great