GAINESVILLE — Add Florida's Billy Donovan to the growing list of SEC coaches who want league officials to take a serious look at how conference schedules are devised.
The SEC's lucrative television package with ESPN means more exposure than ever for basketball, but at what cost? Some league coaches believe there must be a better balance when scheduling teams now that the SEC consistently plays Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday matchups.
Donovan said SEC coaches agreed that some scheduling sacrifices were necessary by all the teams to help facilitate the TV deal, but some say teams are being put at a disadvantage.
"Everybody's dealing with a different set of elements to try and get those games," Donovan said. "My problem with it is that if you want to get more teams into the NCAA Tournament, and you want to do more with your non-conference schedule, our league should not be putting teams at a disadvantage, competitively.
"Just using as an example: Alabama has to play a game at 9 on Thursday night, and then at noon on Saturday. That should never happen. The Thursday-Saturday, we're okay with that. But there's got to be some level of consideration taken into the fact that these guys just played at 9 p.m., then they've got to go to school on Friday, then leave Friday and play at noon — pretty much wake up, eat and play the game. Give them an opportunity and play the game at 6, 7 or 8 at night."
For the record, the Gators are 12-1 in games with that scenario, and Donovan said he's speaking for all SEC teams, not just UF. Not surprisingly, it isn't an issue that's high on the players' radar.
"It's not as tough as maybe what the coaches worry about," sophomore G Scottie Wilbekin said. "I like playing a lot of games."
Sophomore C Patric Young, who has been dealing with tendinitis in his ankle for several weeks, said he played as many as six games a day as an AAU player, but because of the level of competition, the Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday games can be an issue.
"It's different in AAU because in AAU the games are a little bit shorter and the defense isn't as good," Young said. "… But here there's so much more. It really affects our legs a lot more, so that's why it's really important to take care of your body more on this level."
ORR SETTLES LEGAL ISSUES: Florida DT Leon Orr has settled his legal issues from an arrest on marijuana-related charges this month. According to Alachua County Court records, Orr, who has no prior criminal record, agreed to deferred prosecution in the case. Orr will pay $50 for the cost of prosecution of the case and either a $150 fine or 121/2 hours of community service. Orr, a former Gulf standout, was given a notice to appear on Jan. 10 for possession of marijuana under 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanor charges.
TWO MORE COMMIT: Florida's list of oral commitments for the 2012 football recruiting class increased to 20 on Monday with the oral commitment of DE Alex McCalister. McCalister, a 6-foot-7, 212-pounder from Clemmons, N.C., was part of a group that made official visits this past weekend. His decision came down to UF, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. On Sunday, DE Bryan Cox of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, son of the former NFL linebacker, committed to the Gators.
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] Read her blog at http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gators/.