SDS Mailbag: Ideal Final Four locations, creating the perfect SEC team and how the Playoff has hurt the Pac-12
Leap Day is tomorrow, and that always reminds me of “Parks & Recreation,” where Jerry Gergich was born on Feb. 29. So, when he’s 64 years old, he’s technically celebrating his 16th birthday.
That’s a great episode and worth a watch on Saturday. Leap Day is a really weird concept when you think about it.
We don’t have time to think too much about it, though. Let’s dive into your questions for this week’s Mailbag!
If you could pick 1 city to host the Final Four every year, what city would you pick?
I’m partial to Missouri cities, since I went to college there. Kansas City would be an awesome annual location for the Final Four. It’s crazy that KC hasn’t hosted the Final Four since 1988, although I guess I sort of understand it.
These days, the NCAA likes to play the Final Four in football stadiums, and they aren’t going to be playing basketball in April in Arrowhead Stadium anytime soon.
Therefore, if I could pick 1 city to host the Final Four every year, I’d go with St. Louis. There’s a dome that is only used for a few events each year and I’m sure the XFL’s BattleHawks wouldn’t mind sharing the dome for a weekend.
St. Louis is centrally located, too. Plus, in a way, it’s better than Kansas City because it’s farther away from the Kansas Jayhawks. They don’t need the built-in advantage of having the Final Four in Kansas City every year.
If I had to pick a non-Missouri city, I’d go with Indianapolis.
If you had to build a team of the best SEC players, who would you pick? Let’s say 5 starters and a sixth man.
There are a number of great players in the league to pick from, but here are the guys I’d want on my All-Star team:
- Guard: Ashton Hagans, Kentucky — I don’t need much scoring from the point guard position with all these other guys on the roster. What I do need is a distributor, and Hagans leads the SEC with 6.5 assists per game. He’s also the best defender in the league, so this is a no-brainer.
- Guard: Mason Jones, Arkansas — We have to find a place for the SEC’s leading scorer. Jones has no problem putting a team on his back offensively, as we saw when Isaiah Joe was out. No, that didn’t translate to any wins at Arkansas, but with this all-star cast around him, that won’t be a problem.
- Guard: Anthony Edwards, Georgia — The superstar freshman doesn’t play for a great team, but I think he’d shine with the right supporting cast around him. He and Jones would form a dynamic scoring duo in the backcourt, and Hagans would do a great job making sure each guy got enough touches. Edwards against defenses that couldn’t help off their man to stop him would be super fun to watch.
- Forward: Reggie Perry, Mississippi State — Perry is the SEC’s leading rebounder, averaging 9.9 per game. He’s also scoring 17.4 points and dishing out 2.4 assists per game. He can do it all and that earns him a spot in the frontcourt for this squad.
- Forward: Nick Richards, Kentucky — Among qualifying players, Richards has the best field goal percentage in the SEC and it isn’t even close. He makes 65.8% of his shots. The second-place player, Florida’s Keyontae Johnson, makes 54.5% of his attempts. Richards is also second in the SEC with 2.2 blocks per game. He makes a big impact on both ends of the floor.
- Sixth Man: Isaac Okoro, Auburn — Okoro is super versatile and can guard anyone on the court. He’s also no slouch offensively and is one of the most energetic players in the SEC.
I’d feel pretty confident in that squad going up against any other group of 6 players in the nation.
How are you going to spend your Leap Day this year?
Well, I plan on spending Leap Day watching other people leap. By that, I mean there’s a full slate of SEC basketball games on that day, including No. 15 Auburn at No. 8 Kentucky. If Kentucky wins that game, the Wildcats will all but lock up the SEC regular season title.
Texas A&M-LSU will also be fun to watch, as will Florida-Tennessee and South Carolina-Alabama. This is the second-to-last Saturday in the regular season, so we’d better make the most of it!
I also have a birthday dinner to go to, but it better be somewhere with a TV so I don’t miss any basketball.
Ducks fan here who really enjoys SEC football and this great site. Football going national with the BCS and the Playoff has materially benefited the SEC and hurt CFB west of the Mississippi. The Big 12 and Pac-12 are a combined Playoff 1-6. Today, the Pac-12 cannot convince many of the best Left Coast high school players to stay “home.” And Steve Sarkisian staying at Alabama as an assistant instead of taking the head job at Colorado, as well as Mike Leach leaving for Mississippi State, also speaks to the demise of Pac-12 football. Considering the money flowing to B1G and SEC teams and with the ACC having its own ESPN-owned network, is there any way CFB west of the Mississippi can return to national relevancy, or are we looking at a Power 2, augmented from time to time by a school willing to pay $9 million plus to its head coach? Is it a good thing for CFB for the game to disappear out west? And does any SEC fan care or should they care?
This is, by far, the longest question I’ve ever had to answer in the Mailbag, but I think Jon’s question is absolutely worthwhile. To answer the last question first, no. SEC fans absolutely do not care and should not care about anything outside of the SEC. The SEC can print its own money when it comes to football, and the current setup absolutely benefits the conference.
As for the second-to-last question, no. It is not good that football west of the Mississippi River is taking this big of a hit. But, for the Pac-12 especially, that’s a situation that has everything to do with TV deals. You’ve seen the stories about the Pac-12 considering 9 a.m. local time kickoffs just to get into that lucrative noon Eastern time slot. The late-night “Pac-12 After Dark” time slot isn’t as lucrative, money-wise. East Coast teams are always going to have the benefit of better TV slots.
I don’t think the Big 12 is affected by this situation as much, but it does have a big impact on the Pac-12. Here’s the solution — allow players to be paid. California schools and Oregon (with Phil Knight and Nike’s deep pockets) could absolutely compete if players were allowed a salary.
Chris Petersen, who coached Washington last year, was only the 17th highest-paid coach in the country, behind even Charlie Strong at USF. That needs to change, but it won’t change until the Pac-12 Network makes more money. Right now, almost no one can watch the Pac-12 Network, which hurts the conference as a whole. Meanwhile, the Big 12 is hurt by the Longhorn Network, which benefits only 1 of the conference’s 10 teams.
It is a complex issue, but until other conferences find the success that the Big Ten Network and SEC Network have found, they’ll continue to lag behind. It’s as simple as that.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.