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SEC Has Decided to Invest In College Basketball

After years of not-so-benign neglect, the SEC has decided to take some of that extra media money and see if they can buy their way into March Madness.

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Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

What to do with all that money?

That is the questions SEC programs are facing as they gaze at the glorious amount of media rights money that is being distributed throughout the league.

Turns out the SEC Network is a little ahead of schedule, so teams are expected to collect over $5 million each this summer from their share of the profits.

The league has tier 1 deals with ESPN and CBS and with the SEC network at least one sports marketing firm is estimating that each team in the league will collect $35-$40 million in media rights during the 2017-18 school year.

That revenue stream will be there year in and year out, and you can add revenue from the college football playoff and other bowl games annually.

So what to do with some of that money?

How about using some of it to prime the pump of March Madness?

As John Calipari and Kentucky look to become the first college basketball team to go 40-0 this weekend at the Final Four, other programs are trying to buy their way into the game.

Greg Marshall-Alabama for $3 million?

That's the rumor of the day. Marshall is currently playing Texas against Alabama, as Tide AD Bill Battle flew to Wichita to publicly state their love for Marshall. Obviously Alabama has decided that they are ready to upgrade basketball -- they even called in ace recruiter Nick Saban to try and convince Marshall that Tuscaloosa is a great place to raise a family.

Bruce Pearl-Auburn, $2 million a year

Last year, Auburn brought Bruce Pearl back into the league. Auburn has been to the NCAA tournament just 8 times, with the last coming in 2003. Pearl got Tennessee into the NCAA tournament in each of his six year in Knoxville, including two Sweet 16's and an Elite 8.  Pearl went 15-20 his first season at Auburn.

Ben Howland-Mississippi State $2 million+ a year

Mississippi State fired Rick Ray and less than 48 hours hired Ben Howland to take his place. Howland took UCLA to three straight Final Fours, but didn't get out of the first weekend of play over the next 5 years. Mississippi State had a nice run during the 2000's, including one Final Four appearance, but the Bulldogs have only appeared in the tournament 10 times and haven't been back since 2009.

Rick Barnes-Tennessee, $2 million+ a year

Mississippi State may have set the land-speed record in hiring Howland, but it didn't last long, as Barnes jump from one UT to the other in record time. Suffice it to say that readers of this blog are well aware of Barnes' record (and shortcomings) at Texas, but he is a great hire for the Vols who are working on their 4th coach in 6 years.

Barnes has been to the NCAA tournament 22 times during his coaching career, or two more appearances than Tennessee has made during the history of the program.

It didn't take long for the Vols to welcome Rick.

This trio (along with whomever Alabama hires) joins the two coaches with hardware - Callipari ($5.5 million a year) and Florida's Billy Donovan ($4 million), to give the SEC six coaches in the Top 20 highest paid category.

The league is finally approaching college basketball with the same tactic that they have used in football.

"You Need to Spend Money in Order to Make Money."