By an 11-1 margin, the men's basketball coaches of the Southeastern Conference voted to alter the way the SEC Tournament will be seeded, effective this coming season.
Instead of seeding all teams 1-6 by division, teams will be seeded 1-12, with the top 4 receiving a bye. Under the old rules, Vanderbilt, which was widely believed to be the third best team overall in the SEC, was seeded as the Eastern three seed and thus did not receive a bye. If this coming season's new rules had been applied to last season's tournament, the Commodores would have enjoyed an extra day's rest at the expense of Mississippi State (which also finished with a 9-7 conference mark, but lost the head to head matchup).
This is good news for the SEC. Last year, all five of the SEC's bids went to teams from the Eastern division. It is in the SEC's best interests to protect its best teams from playing an extra game that might hurt their perceived statistical rankings (RPI, KenPom, etc.) and thus their future seed in the NCAA tournament.
The move also signals a potential departure from the current, division-based regular season format beginning in 2012-2013. The coaches wisely decided that it was too late to change how the 2011-2012 conference portion of the regular season should be scheduled, and that the league would be best served by the formation of a committee to determine the best way to proceed. While it's possible that there could be no changes to the regular season, the smart money is on the league adding a few games and making the schedule a little more flexible in which East and West teams could potentially play each other twice from season to season.
The official vote to approve the change will come tomorrow. At this point that would seem to be a formality.
Speculation is that the lone wolf who voted against the proposal was Rick Stansbury. That would seem to make the most sense.