Florida Baseball: The new SEC Tournament format is dumb

The SEC will be using a new tournament format starting in 2025
Jun 25, 2023; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators head coach Kevin O'Sullivan looks over the field before
Jun 25, 2023; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators head coach Kevin O'Sullivan looks over the field before / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

For all the success that Florida Baseball has had over the recent years, winning the conference tournament has not been something Kevin O'Sullivan and crew have prioritized. Since arriving in Gainesville in 2008, Sullivan has won the regular season SEC title six times but only won the conference tournament twice.

With Oklahoma and Texas joining the conference next season, the SEC announced their new format for the 2025 SEC Tournament.

And it is dumb.

Florida Baseball: We Can Do Better

Make no mistake about it, the current format for the SEC Tournament is also silly and convoluted. It pits the 5th through 12th seeds in a single elimination game, then there is a double elimination portion before the semifinals and finals are back to single elimination.

At least it this format if a team is one of the top four teams in the regular season they get a buffer and this format doesn't invite everyone. The 13th and 14th place teams get left home.

Wanting to include everyone for 2025, the SEC rolled out a new tournament format that resembles something we see in basketball. Under this new format, all 16 teams will be invited to Hoover, AL with the following format:

  • Tuesday - Seeds 9 through 16 will play each other in a single-elimination game
  • Wednesday - Seeds 5 through 8 will play the Tuesday winners in a single-elimination game
  • Thursday through Sunday - The remaining eight teams, including seeds 1 through 4, begin the Quarterfinal round, single elimination style

There are a couple of flaws with this format, the first being that everyone gets invited to the tournament. Beyond the fact the teams seeded 14th, 15th and 16th probably just want their season to end, there shouldn't be a pathway for these teams to claim a conference title because they "got hot" and won five games in a row against teams with far bigger ambitions.

The other flaw is that baseball isn't meant to be a single elimination sport. It is meant to be a series. We here at Hail Florida Hail think the entire NCAA Tournament should just be six rounds of a best of three series, but that is a discussion for another day.

Problems Require Solutions

So how would we format the SEC Tournament?

First we are only inviting the top eight teams to Hoover. Don't like it? Play better.

We are also moving the start date for the tournament four days earlier to that Friday.

From there, all the teams will engage in a best-of-three series on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The winners move on with Monday being off; then the semifinals will start on Tuesday with another best of three, and the finals will start the subsequent Friday with another best of three.

"But isn't that too much baseball for them to play?"

It really isn't. Florida opens their season with a three game set against St. Johns, then play North Florida that Tuesday and Wednesday, then play Columbia for another three game set.

In fact for the first month of the season that's the format the Gators will be following. Unless Florida winds up going to a game three in each series, the strain on the pitching staff won't be any greater than it is during the season.

If that is too much for one though, then invite eight teams and do group play.

But doing strictly single elimination to determine a champion goes against the spirit of the sport.