Better way to run a tournament


Being at the SEC Tournament reminds me of why I like the event … and why it is also one of the most flawed things in sports.

Consider that Florida played two games and both were against teams from the East. I like the way basketball does it better in matching up East vs. West in the first round.

But the real issue is what happened Wednesday night. Or rather on Thursday morning.
Because the first three games ran long ” as almost all tournament games do ” the Kentucky-Alabama game started at 11:45 p.m. Eastern. It ended at 2:49 a.m.

That’s ridiculous. When coaches or athletic directors or school presidents talk about the welfare of the “student-athletes” I think about the games I have seen at this tournament that went until the wee hours of the morning.

There are lot of worn faces in the press box today. Just imagine how the players from Alabama feel. They got to bed around 4 in the morning and had a scheduled game at 1 p.m. today.

Whether the league does anything to adjust remains to be seen but there have been late games before and the format has stayed the same.

Two suggestions:

1. Start at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. The earlier start will mean an earlier finish.

2. I know this is radical but how about single elimination with all 12 teams. It would allow you to have only three games the first two days. Coaches hate this idea but someone has to explain to me why basketball teams can travel to Atlanta or Nashville or wherever and go home if they lose a tournament game but baseball can’t.

The truth is that there is no perfect way to play a baseball tournament. The ACC way is almost silly, a round robin that can involve a team playing that has no chance to move on but can knock you off. If nothing else, this format gets teams ready for next week’s regionals.

But during the Kentucky-Alabama game, the scoreboard operator fell asleep. No kidding. Is that really what the conference wants?