Vandy, Tennessee coaches will miss twice-a-year guarantee with UK

jtipton@herald-leader.comJune 25, 2012 

Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings reacted to a call that went Kentucky's way.

LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

Southeastern Conference expansion came at a price. Vanderbilt and Tennessee can no longer count on playing Kentucky twice each regular season.

"That will be one of the disappointments to the new scheduling format," Vandy Coach Kevin Stallings said on a SEC teleconference Monday. "But I don't think there was any way to satisfy everyone."

Adding Missouri and Texas A&M gives the SEC 14 teams. With a double round-robin schedule unfeasible, the league went from 16 to 18 games. Each team was given a permanent opponent to play on a home-and-home basis each season. UK got Florida, which gives the league a marquee rivalry.

Tennessee, which has played Kentucky more than any other opponent (214 times), lobbied to be the permanent opponent, Coach Cuonzo Martin said.

"It's a case where you try to do what's best for the league," Martin said of accepting the SEC's decision to make Florida Kentucky's permanent opponent. "That's the most important thing."

The new SEC scheduling format does not rule out home-and-home matchups between Kentucky and other league opponents in a given season. Besides the permanent opponent, four other opponents will be played home-and-home on a rotating basis. That leaves eight other league opponents to be played once in any given season.

Stallings saw a bright side to playing John Calipari's Kentucky teams once.

"If John's teams continue to be as good as the one was this year, I won't miss playing them twice a year," he said.

Eight hours

The SEC coaches welcomed the NCAA permitting teams to workout as many as eight hours per week in July.

With his team in what he called a "huge year of transition," Stallings welcomed the extra practice time.

So did new South Carolina Coach Frank Martin, who called it a "home run of a rule."

Transfers

With the NCAA considering action to try to limit transfers, the SEC coaches sounded resigned to the idea of players moving from school to school.

"We're creating a culture allowing them to run from their problems," Auburn Coach Tony Barbee said of the players. "It used to be, 'Let me fight through.' Now, they just run from it."

Frank Martin noted how frequently players transfer, but he questioned if there was a problem that needed a legislative response.

"My comment on transfers is too many people making too big a deal on transfers on the Division I level," the South Carolina coach said. "Kids are transferring three, four times in high school. It's not like they're going to get to college and all of a sudden have an epiphany, and do things differently.

"It's the culture that's been created.

"If something's not going right and a young man is not happy, it's going to be hard for everyone to coexist."

A transfer would be "healthy for the young man and the program," Martin said.

Texting

The NCAA relaxed its limits on how often coaches can text message prospects, a development this year that the SEC coaches applauded.

Florida Coach Billy Donovan suggested that increased communication can help coaches and players get to know each other better, thus perhaps reducing impulses to transfer.

Barbee added a you-can't-eat-just-one observation. "The only negative to unlimited is if you don't have a phone in hand calling or texting (a prospect), somebody else will," he said.

Welcoming gesture

When Mississippi State hired Rick Ray as coach earlier this off-season, he received a note from Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson. The two got acquainted earlier in their coaching careers.

"Be at ease," Anderson said of the note's message. "If you need somebody to talk to, I'm right over here."

Ray noted how he worked at Northern Illinois with a sports information person who later worked with Anderson at Missouri.

"People have the perception that coaches hate each other," Ray said. "For the most part, all coaches have good relationships. So I'm not surprised at all to get a nice note like that from Mike Anderson."

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