Contrary to what Tommy Hicks suggests, it’s not tradition that keeps the SEC from going down the same division-dropping road in football that it has in basketball. It’s the overall postseason format for each sport which is responsible for that.
In basketball, the SEC tourney is just a means to an end, the end being March Madness. It’s the culmination of the seeding-delivery system which the regular season has become. It’s most important function is to support the RPI of its highest rated teams.
Football, however, doesn’t share those goals because of the single-game winner-take-all BCS title game. (The current format for participation in the SECCG also generates the added benefit of virtually assuring that there will be two SEC teams in BCS games every year.)
Put it this way: if D-1 football ever adopts an extended playoff, you’ll see the SEC ditch tradition shortly afterwards for the same reason it’s done so with basketball.