The AP posted a pretty interesting article yesterday about the SEC’s new initiatives to clean up their conference (thanks to the Duke Basketball Report for finding this). The article is based largely on an interview with South Carolina basketball coach Dave Odom. Of course, Odom used to coach in the ACC at Wake Forest, so he has a pretty good view of the reputation of the SEC both from within and without.
Coach Odom has some pretty good quotes in there. In the first one, he mentions that an unnamed coach from another conference said “there were only four teams in the SEC he would play,” because the others cheated. Four legit out of twelve? Sounds like the SEC has already cleaned things up a bit!
Who would the four be? The DBR thinks it’s probably Vandy, Kentucky, USC (why else would Odom bring it up?) and either Georgia or Tennessee. Given that Georgia was coached recently by the unctuous Harrick clan, I think you can throw them out. I’m not too sure about Tennessee either, but I’ll give Buzz Peterson the benefit of the doubt. Obviously, Kentucky has a long an illustrious history of being lax with the rules (they’re even on probation in football now), but I think Tubby’s probably keeping things pretty clean right now.
Odom also says that he was fully aware of the “SEC way” when he coached at Wake:
When Odom was coaching in the Atlantic Coast Conference, he was amazed at all the rule-breaking that seemed to prevail in the SEC. Coaches talked openly about paying for players and bragged that they had their own system of checks, balances and avoiding the NCAA.
“I’d say, ‘How in the heck do you get by with that stuff,” Odom recalled. “They’d say, ‘Hey, local rules prevail. We take care of our own.”
That’s just good stuff. You don’t often hear coaches being so candid. What’s great is the idea that the SEC is going to fix this simply by having coaches turn one another in. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll happen. When Coach A is cheating and he suspects Coach Donovan, oops, I mean Coach B, is cheating, why would he turn him in? Coach B would just turn around and tattle on Coach A. When eight out of twelve programs are likely corrupt, they aren’t going to just clean themselves up.
Oh, I almost forgot my favorite joke from the article:
Fulmer said. “We want to have the reputation around the country that the SEC is not only a great conference academically and athletically, but we do things the right way.”
Ha! Great academic conference? That’s a good one.
Oh well, enough of bashing our southern neighbors. I think it’s great that they are finally making some sort of an effort to clean things up. Hopefully it comes from an actual desire to change and not just a plan to get some good press.