While every other conference in the country can steal, swipe and abscond with schools from other leagues, the SEC continues to live in fear of Baylor president Kenneth Starr.
Word leaked out today — via a booster who talked to an MU official and then talked to The Kansas City Star — that the SEC had extended an invitation to Missouri.
We believe that makes sense for the following reasons:
1. The SEC reportedly ix-nayed WVU’s application and it wouldn’t have done so if it didn’t have other, firm options on the table.
2. Missouri is a good business fit with the SEC as we have attempted to explain for the past 16 months.
But now the SEC is denying that an invitation was ever sent. Associate commissioner Charles Bloom has now stated that “The SEC has not extended an invitation to any school beyond Texas A&M since it extended invitations to Arkansas and South Carolina.”
As was the case with Texas A&M, the SEC does not want to appear to be breaking up other conferences (nevermind that the ACC, the Big Ten and the Pac-12 have all raided rival leagues in the past 14 months). The folks in the SEC aren’t happy that this story got out as it did.
That does not, however, threaten the deal. Mike Slive knows that leaks happen (they just never happen from inside the SEC).
One other note on all of this, the initial story came courtesy of a Missouri booster. It should surprise no one that it’s spun in a pro-Missouri way.
Paraphrase: “The SEC has invited us and they’ll wait for our Big 12 decision.”
Paraphrase: “The SEC wanted us last year but we weren’t interested.”
Etc, etc, etc.
Our take? The SEC has an under the table agreement with MU officials that if the Big 12 implodes, explodes or any other kind of plodes, the Tigers will join Slive’s band of 14.
But it’s highly doubtful that the SEC has extended an “official” invitation to Missouri or anyone else. That’s not done until the process is complete so both parties can save face should something go wrong.
Here’s one last concern on all of this, though. The SEC is darn good at closing ranks and keeping quiet. Georgia AD Greg McGarity said yesterday that Slive met with the leagues ADs in a regularly scheduled get-together a few weeks ago and he would not talk expansion with them. He told them to trust him and trust their presidents. That’s how you control leaks.
Well Missouri has already sprung a leak in its dealings with the SEC. More worrisome — Mizzou totally misplayed things last year with regards to the Big Ten. Tiger brass made no bones about the fact that they wanted out of the Big 12 and into the Big Ten. When the invite didn’t come, they were left with a full omelette on their face.
This isn’t a dealbreaker by any means, but one has to wonder if Missouri is capable of playing high-stakes poker alongside its potential new leaguemates.