November 11, 2010
As arguably the nation's premier conference, many college baseball fans are interested in what's going on with the SEC. The SEC's 12 coaches met in Hoover, Ala., earlier this week to discuss a variety of topics, including the use of a pitch clock in the conference tournament, the possibility of playing games in the fall without penalty, the controversial new bats and the future location of the conference tournament.
Interestingly, the pitch clock was one of the first topics brought up by an SEC coach that we spoke with. Currently, the SEC has a visible pitch clock placed to the left of the Regions Park scoreboard in right field. However, umpires are proposing that a fourth umpire be added and that fourth umpire would keep the time -- not the pitch clock next to the scoreboard.
"The umpires are really concerned that people care a little too much about what the clock is saying out there," the coach said. "They don't really want people getting really upset in the future if a pitcher goes one second over on the clock."
By the sound of that, it seems like the pitch clock is more of a deterrent and not intended for ultra strict use.
It shouldn't come as a surprise the new BBCOR bats were a hot topic at the SEC meetings. Several SEC coaches, such as LSU's Paul Mainieri and Florida's Kevin O'Sullivan, have expressed in the past they don't believe college baseball needs new bats.
"I think some are upset with the fact they weren't given a chance to sample the bats before they actually went into practice," the coach said. "I think the NCAA feels a little duped by the bat companies at this point."
The coach added, and the NCAA has confirmed, that safety was the primary concern with the release of the new bats.
Whether coaches like them or not, the bats appear to be here to stay.
When Texas and Vanderbilt played a scrimmage earlier this fall, the games officially counted against both teams' 56-game regular season schedules in the spring.
SEC coaches want that to change.
The NCAA currently allows softball, which plays a 56-game regular season schedule, to play four games in the fall without penalty in the spring. As a result, the SEC coaches, led by South Carolina's Ray Tanner, plan to propose the same rule for baseball.
"We'd probably even be happy with having two games if it gives us games in the fall," the coach said. "We feel like we have a pretty good argument moving forward."
Arguably the most important topic on the docket, at least as the SEC is concerned, was the future location of the SEC tournament.
Some have led to believe that Memphis, Tenn., could be the location for the tournament beginning in 2012. But if the SEC coaches have their way, the tournament won't deviate far from where they had their meetings this week. They want the tournament to stay in Hoover, Ala., and be played at Regions Park.
The consensus, a coach said, was overwhelming.
"Everyone is pleased with the location of the tourney in Hoover. It's kind of been the Omaha of the SEC and it's been a consistent place with a central location," he said. "One concern, though, is some facility upgrades must be made. But in terms of how they put on the tournament, it's first-class."
The SEC and coaches have been assured the parking situation that inconvienced fans attending last year's Alabama-Auburn contest will be fixed by the time the 2011 tourney arrives.
It appears to be Hoover's to lose.