Donovan Expects SEC to Review Scheduling

Some level of scheduling imbalance is inevitable in a conference of 12 teams, and it will be made more difficult next year with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M. The level of imbalance Billy Donovan believes his team is dealing with this season isn't easy for him to ignore. This week, the Gators start their first of back-to-back weeks with Thursday-Saturday games.

Florida will tip off Thursday against Ole Miss in Oxford at 7 p.m. They'll return to Gainesville late that night, go to class on Friday and have one day of preparation before hosting Mississippi State Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

The problem in Donovan's eyes isn't that this type of situation happens. He's upset with the frequency of it, especially when there are better ways for it to be managed with later tipoffs on Saturday. Alabama was in a similar situation last week, hosting Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. on Thursday night before playing and losing a noon game at Kentucky.

"That should never happen," Donovan said Monday morning. "It's not the Thursday-Saturday. We're okay with that. Give them an opportunity to play at 6-8 o'clock at night."

The conversation about this started three years ago when the coaches met at the SEC meetings. SEC commissioner Mike Slive addressed the coaches about the possibilities of signing the 15-year deal with ESPN that eventually came to fruition. Slive warned the coaches that they needed to be flexible understand and games might get pushed closer together during conference play.

Before the contract, the SEC played almost exclusively on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. With the additional space because of the ESPN contract, Thursday games have been added to the mix to complicate things.

The goal of the contract was for more exposure and a hope that more teams in the NCAA Tournament would come with that. However, Donovan sees it differently. He thinks that if that is still the goal, changes should be made.

"My problem with it is that if you want to get more teams in the NCAA Tournament and want to do more with the out-of-conference schedule, our league should not put teams at a disadvantage competitively," Donovan said. "There are teams in our league put at a disadvantage competitively. I don't think that's right to players or teams.

"I've heard the argument that it's like that in the NCAA Tournament where you play Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday. Great, but you know what? So does the other team you're playing against."

The interesting part comes in the way some teams have been scheduled. At the conclusion of this season, Florida will have faced four Thursday-Saturday situations between this season and last. Kentucky hasn't been forced to do that once in the last two years.

Donovan was sure the compliment the Wildcats for their success in the conference, even calling them the "measuring stick and bar for basketball in this conference," but it didn't stop him from wondering how that could happen.

"I don't know if it's a coincidence or not," Donovan said. "You'd probably have to ask the league if it's a coincidence or not. All I'm saying right now is that whether it's a coincidence or not, there needs to be balance of what everyone else is doing."

The Gators have actually been successful in Thursday-Saturday situations. They went 3-1 last season in those games, with the only loss coming at Kentucky.

NEW RANKINGS OUT: In this week's new rankings that came out on Monday, Florida came in at No. 14 in the AP Poll and No. 13 in the Coaches' Poll.


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