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College Basketball Insider

SEC coaches surprised when league schedule doesn't match what was previously discussed

SEC basketball coaches met in Florida early last month to, among other things, determine how scheduling would be done for their new 14-team league, and everything was settled by the time the meetings concluded. The league decided each school would play every other school once per season, have a constant rival it would play twice per season, and four other schools it would also play twice per season to complete an 18-game schedule.

Not everybody was happy.

But everybody at least knew the score.

And then last week happened, and now everybody is confused.

"I got an email from the SEC office, and my four [home-and-home] opponents ... were changed," once SEC coach told CBSSports.com. "There was no discussion or phone call. I just got an email of our league schedule, and the league schedule wasn't the league schedule they told me I'd have last month. It's crazy."

To help you better understand exactly what happened, consider that Vanderbilt was supposed to have Tennessee as its constant rival and Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri and Ole Miss as its home-and-home opponents, but sources told CBSSports.com that Vanderbilt now has Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas and Auburn as its home-and-home opponents. Meantime, Ole Miss was supposed to have Mississippi State as its constant rival and Auburn, Florida, Vanderbilt and Arkansas as its home-and-home opponents, but sources told CBSSports.com that Ole Miss now has Auburn, Tennessee, Missouri and Texas A&M as its home-and-home opponents.

Sources said Georgia's schedule got harder.

Sources said Alabama's schedule got easier.

And if you're wondering why this is a big deal, it's because SEC coaches had already scheduled their non-league games based on whether they believed they had relatively easy or relatively hard league schedules assigned to them. Now everything is a mess. And though every coach who spoke to CBSSports.com said they'd deal with it if only because they have no choice, they made it clear they were bothered by the surprise email from the SEC office that came during this July evaluation period for recruiting.

"We never discussed the changes or even that there were going to be changes," one coach said. "We just got emails with new schedules, and the only explanation we got for the changes was that they were doing it for 'competitive balance.' But my question is what changed between last month and this month? I still don't know the answer to that."

The SEC is expected to publicly release all league schedules next month.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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