Somehow over the holiday weekend, I missed the fact that SEC basketball is expanding the number of permanent home and home opponents to three, but I did. Blame it on the holiday or the fact that I am still shell-shocked from my neighbors shooting fireworks every night from July 1-7. But yes, the number of permanent home and home opponents will increase to three in the 2015-16 season.
Expansion led the SEC to abandon divisional play and concoct an unbalanced schedule that included only one opponent that would be played on a home-and-home basis each season. Kentucky’s permanent opponent was Florida.
Other SEC opponents would be played home-and-home on a rotating basis. This happened to mean that Kentucky did not play at Tennessee last season for the first time since 1952-53 (UK did not schedule games that season). Other than the World War II season of 1943-44, UK had played in Knoxville every other season since 1922.
Attention-getting history aside, with SEC basketball reduced to just three NCAA Tournament bids for a second straight year, league officials took notice.
On top of that, Georgia’s home attendance (6,126) suffered from not having teams like Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee or Auburn come to Athens last season.
“None of the teams our fans will traditionally come out to see,” Georgia Coach Mark Fox said.
No coincidence, the SEC decided to move to three permanent home-and-home opponents beginning in 2015-16.
And as Jerry Tipton tells us, SEC teams are stumbling over themselves to get Kentucky added as one of their home and home opponents because well, Kentucky is Kentucky.
Tennessee AD Dave Hart listed Kentucky as one of his choices despite the tongue in cheek protestations of new coach Donnie Tyndall.
“I say this tongue in cheek,” Tyndall said. “Coach Hart listed them. I did not.
“Our A.D. (Dave Hart) wants Kentucky in here for ticket sales and revenue. And I get that. Coach Tyndall, with only four returning players and Coach (John) Calipari having nine McDonald’s All-Americans, I did not.”