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The SEC Responds To Stallings’ Schedule Complaint

Earlier this week, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings made it clear that he’s not happy that East Division rival Kentucky won’t have to play a Thursday-Sunday turnaround for the second-straight year.  (Like the one Vandy faces against Alabama and MSU tonight and Saturday.)

Yesterday, we gave you our take — that ESPN and CBS will always beg to get Kentucky (especially when at home at Rupp) lined up with their best timeslots.  UK is the SEC’s flagship program and best TV draw.  If that means more Tuesday games and less Thursday games for the Cats then ESPN is likely A-OK with it… even if it means someone else will move into those Thursday slots.

Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean took Stallings’ complaint to the SEC office and got this reply from Craig Pinkerton, the league’s director of media relations:


“The SEC’s athletics directors have established a set of parameters to follow when building the men’s basketball schedule.  These parameters are in place to ensure that the schedule is as equitable as possible and enables the SEC to fulfill its contractual obligations with television.  We make our best effort to balance out the Thursday-Saturday tandem among all of the teams.  Last year we began moving some Thursday games to Tuesday to alleviate some of the issues with the quick turnaround.  Now we are playing two games Tuesday night with an ESPNU game that leads inot the ESPN Super Tuesday matchup.

We try to get every team at least one game and no more than four games on Thursday night.  The key issues is avoiding teams playing on the road for both parts of a Thursday-Saturday tandem.”


The bottom line?  Scheduling isn’t as easy as some think.  Especially with television thrown into the mix.  If Vandy was happy about its schedule, another school would be upset with its slate.  There’s no way to please everyone.  (Especially fans who will always view their schedule as the toughest and some other school’s as the easiest.)

Finally, we believe Stallings would have made a better point if he’d pointed out that Auburn, LSU and Kentucky all avoided the Thursday-Saturday turnaround.  Instead, he just mentioned UK.

 


22 comments
Dynamite fan
Dynamite fan

Boy Bama sure looked tired today I wonder why?? FYI UK has 8 weekend game in conference and half of those are vs teams on one days rest. UK benefits from the TV package too. CBS and ESPN wouldn't be hurt if they had to air other teams and not all 16 of Kentucky's conference games. We don't see Alabama every week during Football season why give UK the conference title on a platter.

dayworks
dayworks

Part 2 (BTW: I hate this commenting system): In generally fair and equal fashion, every school in the SEC benefits from the money gotten from the CBS/ESPN deal. It goes into, not only the conference's sports programs, but literally every academic and other aspect of the member institutions (at the discretion of each) as well. The arrangement provides a high level of visibility nationwide for all SEC teams and, for SEC sports fans, keeps ticket prices to a fraction (probably somewhere around 1/10th) of what they would be without the network contract(s).

All of this being said, I personally don't like the current scheduling any more than I like the "one and done" situation—which on a side note is another problem not created by Kentucky, but rather by the NBA (last time around by the owners, this time by the players union). Kentucky is just doing what it has tried to do in most of its eras—scarf up the best available talent it can get its hands on that will be able to maintain some semblance of academic responsibility—and that is nothing but what every other school is trying to do as well.

I see all of this stuff as bits and pieces of a world of collegiate sports that has shifted from being institutionally driven to one that is being driven far more by big business money and influence. Perhaps we need to consider that before we start pointing fingers at one another so much. It's the environment in which we are living and the one in which all our schools are having to adapt. For now, that's part of the bottom line. The other part is that every team the the SEC has a mandate to compete at the highest level it can possibly obtain. There's no crying in basketball. Nothing would make me happier than to see four SEC teams in the Final Four. Sorry for the long-windiness (see part 1 also). :)

Guest
Guest

I think stallings point that you are missing is that UK plays 4 times on a Saturday against a team who played Thursday night. I'm most cases UK gets 2 days of additional rest to their opponent.

Guest
Guest

Ummmm...simple question...if the league is so concerned with fairness in scheduling, why is Kentucky's lone Thursday game followed by a Sunday game???

dayworks
dayworks

Really now, is this going to be the thing people go to now when UK kicks the crap out of their basketball teams on national television, or will this be but a mere part of a much larger package of whining yet to be determined? :D

Mattox
Mattox

Kentucky's schedule is ridiculously backloaded because of TV. If Stallings had UK (x2), UF (x2) & @ Mississippi State in a span of 26 days like Kentucky does, he'd be thowing a GD fit. It seems like he's always whining about something. Perhaps he should focus his energy toward something more productive, like say not embarrassing the league and actually win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Dynamite fan
Dynamite fan

@Mattox

FYI Vandy Plays UK twice and UF twice in the month of Feb. How is making the NCAA tourney embarassing the league?? He has won games in the dance BTW. Not making the tourney Players not attending classes or getting degrees or Being placed on Probation is more embarassing than losing in the 1st round.

Mattox
Mattox

Obviously UK has Vandy (x2) as opposed to playing themselves, but if the situation were reversed what I posted above would be the Vandy equivalent to UK's Feb-March SEC slate.

SEC fan
SEC fan

John's response: It doesn't matter if it is fair 'cause TV pays the bill and therefore, gets to make the schedule however it pleases and besides it is only unfair if it isn't your team that gets the advantage. Otherwise, if you point out the unfairness, you are just a whiner unless you are Alabama complaining about open dates of your opponents before football games, in which case it is OK and the SEC will correct the problem ASAP.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Vols fan...

Uh, no. I thought Bama fans whined too much, too. And your summary of my views was laughably simplistic and incorrect.

John

SEC fan
SEC fan

Yes, there IS a way to please everyone and it is very simple. Every team has the SAME number of Thurs.-Sat. turnaround games regardless of whether it pleases the TV networks or not. The SEC addressed Alabama's complaints (whether you agreed with them or not) and they should do so with this issue as well. I will agree that my summary of your views was laughable but it wasn't incorrect.

dayworks
dayworks

@SEC fan I didn't say I didn't know how UK complained about it, I just said I didn't have handy web links for it. Todd Lee (the President of the University of Kentucky), Mitch Barnhardt (UK's Athletics Director) and John Calipari (UK's Men's Basketball Head Coach) all complained about the scheduling issues. Go look it up for yourself. Anyway, you are welcome for allowing me to set you straight this time. Hopefully you'll pay a little more attention to league activities in the future and I won't need to do it again.

SEC fan
SEC fan

@SEC fan

I read both of your posts. You don't like the unfair scheduling either and neither does Kentucky ? Really? And they have complained about it on three levels but you aren't sure how? Really? and you will forgive me for not knowing this and I must have a hole in my head to not understand this? Oh, OK. Got it now thanks for setting me straight, dayworks.

dayworks
dayworks

@SEC fan Hey Vols fan, you need to read the rest of my post. Unfortunately, it is way up there somewhere. (I very much dislike this commenting system. Wordpress still trying to be a true content management system and people buying into it. LOL!)

I am being objective about this matter. I don't like the manner SEC scheduling is being handled one bit. Even Kentucky has, on three levels, (it's true, but I apologize for not having link references for you) expressed disdain for it, for the exact same reasons you and others are crying out about.

I'll forgive you for not knowing about that this time, but you need to find some peg that will fit with some hole in your head whereby you may come to understand, it's not a matter of whether Kentucky would complain about such scheduling if they were in the backseat. They already have all the while being in the driver's seat.

SEC fan
SEC fan

UK "stays out of it" because the current system gives them an advantage (if you disagree, you are not being objective) but if it were the opposite scenario, you better believe you would be hearing LOTS more about this issue. Just stating the obvious.

dayworks
dayworks

Part 1 (phooey on character limits): While it can be argued that the current SEC scheduling gives Kentucky and a few of the other teams some competitive advantage over others, I think the degree of of any potential advantage given (in the form of rest) is being exaggerated by some here. Frankly, last Saturday when Kentucky beat Tennessee in Thompson-Bowling, I would bet that, given perhaps a drink of water and a five minute rest, the Vols would have been perfectly happy to go right back at the Wildcats again for a chance to even the score.

It is CBS and ESPN who are responsible (or irresponsible—if you prefer) for all of this conference basketball schedule tampering, not UK or the SEC. UK stays out of it and lets the SEC try its best to clean up the mess left in the wake of the network demands. To CBS and ESPN, it's just business and it's simple. They are trying to max-out Super Tuesday, primetime weekend and other vehicle revenues. They have to do that in order to not only make a decent profit on their endeavor, but also live up to contractual obligations to the Southeastern Conference—which of course involves them paying out ungodly amount of money to the conference every year.

We should remember, that it was the SEC that both came up with and worked this current deal out with CBS and ESPN in the first place and that it was considered such a stunningly successful coup (i.e., brilliant business model) that it inspired every other major collegiate sports conference to try something comparable (up to and including starting their own TV networks). We should remember too, that the basis the deal had far more to do with football than it did with basketball. Where's Kentucky in that scenario?

SEC fan
SEC fan

Thanks for admitting that the current setup DOES give Ky a competitive advantage, but I think that to say that it is "OK because TV networks give the conference lots of money" is pretty weak. Isn't the tail wagging the dog? I am pretty sure that if you are honest, you will admit that you would not be content to say "it is what it is" if the opposite were true and TV dictated a schedule that put KY at a competitive disadvantage. In fact, I am fairly certain that the Wildcat howls would echo from Lexington to Birmingham. What if TV said it would prefer to have KY have 1 more away SEC game and 1 less SEC home game each year? Would you say that "that's just the way it is" and since CBS/ESPN pay so much money, that we should either accept it or give the money back? I believe if you look at it and say what is fair for ALL of our teams, the answer is obvious and should not be ignored for financial reasons.

Mattox
Mattox

@SEC fan No. I am suggesting that when you take hundreds of millions of dollars from a TV network, then you cede some level of scheduling control to said network. It is a competitive advantage for UK to not have that Thursday/Saturday combo, but that's part of it when you're cashing the kind of checks from CBS/ESPN that the SEC does. Your original post was; "Every team has the SAME number of Thurs.-Sat. turnaround games regardless of whether it pleases the TV networks or not." Well that's not how it works at this level. I'm sure if as a league we wanted to give them back their truck loads of cash and rescind the TV contract, that everyone could then have the same schedule. However, I have a hunch you would have trouble getting support from any SEC Athletic Department for that approach.

SEC fan
SEC fan

@Mattox@SEC fan May not be a fair comparison because while having your football game televised carries some advantages with recruiting, having to play a tough basketball game on Sat. noon after returning from playing another tough basketball road game (getting back at 3am on Fri. and having noon tipoff on Sat.) might be a bigger disadvantage than not having your football game televised. So, nice try, but not sure the explanation is comparable. Surely, you aren't suggesting that since Kentucky is such an important basketball power, it shouldn't have to play Thurs-Sat. turnaround games while the rest of the teams in the league should?

Mattox
Mattox

@SEC fan The TV networks fall into the set of "everyone". In football, not every team gets the same number of CBS games. CBS wants to show Bama, LSU, Florida, Auburn, Georgia or Tennessee when they're rolling because they're national brands. In college basketball, fair or not, the SEC only has one team that's truly a national brand; Kentucky. It is a little different issue with basketball, because games are played on several different days as opposed to just Saturday and the occasional Thursday, but Kentucky getting the most Tuesday night basketball games is the equivalent of Bama & LSU getting more CBS and primetime ESPN games. There's no completely "fair" way to do it if you're going to take hundreds of millions of dollars from TV networks. You are going to have to play by their rules to some extent. They made an investment in your product and they want to maximize that investment. The greatest return on that investment when it comes to basketball is Kentucky.

Clockwatcher
Clockwatcher

...but did Auburn and LSU avoid the thur-sat turn around last year? I think the main issue is this is 2 years in a row UK gets off the hook.

This is the SEC not the Big 12. One team's TV ratings should not effect scheduling.

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