During a recent trip to Charlotte for SEC Tipoff 2015, Scout.com caught up with several college basketball analysts to get their takes on the upcoming season in the Southeastern Conference.
Included in the panel: Joe Dean Jr., SEC Network basketball analyst and athletics director at Birmingham-Southern; Sean Farnham, ESPN college basketball analyst; and Seth Greenberg, ESPN college basketball analyst.
TODAY’S TOPIC: Impact of the SEC Network
“I think it’s huge. You talk about recruiting your geographic footprint first and foremost. Well now you’re in every living room in your geographic footprint, 24-7. That’s a great recruiting tool. It’s a tool that coaches can point to that makes the league unique. The SEC Network isn’t a football network, it’s the SEC Network. I think that helps in a lot of ways eliminate the biggest thing that they face in recruiting. Maybe not Kentucky and Florida, but the rest of the league.
“Football is a vehicle. If you’re coaching in this conference, football is a great vehicle. You talk about branding your university and branding your athletic department and showing that it can be done. If I’m Mississippi State, I’m saying we can find 60 football guys to come and compete at the highest level. Sixty really talented guys feel Mississippi State is the right place. Can we find eight basketball guys that feel that way? You’ve got to take the success that football’s had and say ‘Wait a second, how do we translate that to basketball?’ That’s recruiting.”
“Well you’re in 100 million homes. That kind of helps right away. You look at it scheduling-wise, I think Mark Fox over at Georgia told me the other day they have more nationally televised games than the Hawks. So when you’re talking about everybody in this conference now getting maximum exposure on a consistent basis, when you go and recruit a kid you’re not telling him, ‘Hey, you’re going to get a regional network here and you’ll see about 15 games there and four games on ESPN and two on ESPNU.’ You can literally say we have 27 games on nationally televised platforms, whether it’s the SEC Network or ESPN platforms. That opens up the door for recruiting and for growth in this conference as far as expanding and educating people on the brand of basketball that is played in the SEC.”
Joe Dean Jr.
“It starts with the fact that the SEC Network is in 97 percent of the homes in this country, so it’s a nationwide network. Obviously we used to have the regional syndicated network, which has now gone away and transformed into the SEC Network. So just the coverage in and of itself is through the roof, and the SEC brand has become such a strong national brand, mainly because of the strength of football. We all understand that, but it filters down to all the other sports. And really, when you look across the board in the SEC, the success of all the sports from baseball to women’s basketball to gymnastics to softball to track and field to volleyball and on and on, it’s a national powerhouse conference.
“Men’s basketball is the one sport that’s lagging behind. We all that love the sport and love SEC basketball have got to do our part to lift it back up and get it back to its rightful place as one of the top conferences in the country. I see that happening. Bruce Pearl coming back into the league is a big shot in the arm. Commissioner Mike Slive and (associate commissioner over basketball) Mark Whitworth have made a concerted effort to raise the profile, improve scheduling, do more marketing. Certainly the SEC Network is a big part of that.”