Stallings won't worry about 18-game SEC schedule until he sees one

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 9:20pm

Kevin Stallings wants to hold back on talking about next year’s proposed schedule changes.

As for this season, the Vanderbilt men’s basketball coach doesn’t mind sharing his thoughts.

On Monday, a Southeastern Conference official told The Dispatch in Mississippi that with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, two more league games will be added for an 18-game conference slate.

“I haven’t seen what format they’re using ... until I see that I wouldn’t really want to speculate on my opinion on it,” Stallings said on Tuesday before practice.

Stallings has seen more than enough to vent about one aspect of this year’s schedule.

This week, the Commodores will play two games in a span of 48 hours. They’ll travel to Alabama for a 6 p.m. tip-off on Thursday, before hosting No. 18 Mississippi State at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Stallings has no issues with the Thursday night games, which are part of the SEC’s television deal with ESPN. His gripe is that teams like Kentucky don’t have any Thursday-Saturday turnarounds; yet four times this season the Wildcats will have a Saturday matchup against teams who played the preceding Thursday.

“Go figure that one out for me would you?” Stallings said as he shook his head. “We all agreed to do it. So if you have one like we have one I’m not going to complain with the one we have. To not have any and to be able to play four teams that have to do it to play you, that is not right.”

In fairness, Kentucky is not the only school that doesn’t have a quick Thursday-Saturday turnaround. Auburn and LSU also were spared.

But the Wildcats did not have to play on short rest last year either. They last played a Thursday-Saturday double on Feb. 25-27, 2010. Ole Miss, on the other hand, was given three Thursday-Saturday games this season.

“I would rather have it on Wednesdays and Saturdays so that we have the same amount of time to prepare for Mississippi State as they have for us,” Stallings said. “But we agreed to take that on. That is just part of the TV package and we can live with that. But, again, I don’t think it is right for somebody not to have any and to play four different times when their opponents have to play them on short order.

"That’s not fair and it is not equitable and something needs to be done about that.”

In regard to next season’s schedule, Larry Templeton, who is heading up the SEC’s transition team during conference expansion, told The Dispatch that the league’s athletic directors will have to approve the proposed schedule format in May. Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams could not be reached for comment.

“We’re not ready yet to announce the details of how the 18 games is going to work,” Templeton said.

Templeton doesn’t believe the conference will readopt a divisional format. Last summer, the league’s 12 coaches agreed to dissolve the East and West divisions for basketball, which went into effect this season.

“I think our coaches are adamant about the idea of eliminating divisions being better for the perception of our league,” Templeton said. “I don’t think that’s something that will be up for much discussion.”

Though Stallings, like everyone else, is unsure of what the new format would entail he didn’t oppose the 18-game schedule. He pointed to other conferences — the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all play 18 league games — as a model for the SEC.

“Most leagues are going to an 18-game schedule so I don’t think our league wants to be one that is not going to,” he said. “I’m OK with 18. It makes for a longer, harder grind but one of the most difficult things we do some times is non-conference scheduling, so it will make that a little bit easier.”