Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News recently conducted an interesting little Q&A with former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer. In it, he asked Kramer a question that many SEC fans have been tossing back and forth the past few weeks — Does Missouri fit in the SEC?
“How do you know whether someone fits or doesn’t fit? I think part of that comes in time. Did Arkansas and South Carolina fit when we took them? Today, we think of them as strong, traditional members of the Southeastern Conference. Was that the case when they came in? Probably not in the minds of a lot of people.”
As we noted in an earlier post this morning, in 1992 there were fewer messageboards and talk radio shows for those people to share their doubts. And if those things had existed, Arkansas and South Carolina would have faced some of the same obstacles that are currently being hurled against Missouri.
For all the talk of Missouri being out of place geographically, have you looked at Fayetteville, Arkansas’ placement on a map? The UA campus is closer to the states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri than it is to any current SEC state.
From 1925 through 1991, the Razorbacks had competed in a conference made up of 100% Texas-based rivals. The Hogs had lived in a culture of Stetson hats and cowboy boots.
Yet Arkansas has won a national crown in basketball since entering the SEC. One could argue that the Razorback football program is currently headed for heights unmatched since the Frank Broyles era.
Regarding the chatter that Missouri won’t be able to raise funds and therefore won’t be able to compete in the SEC, think back to the University of South Carolina circa 1992. The independent Gamecocks had been to just eight bowl games in the program’s history (and they’d lost them all).
But since joining the SEC with their smallish athletic budget, the Cocks have doubled their number of bowl appearances, winning four. Last season they became the first East Division team not named Florida, Georgia or Tennessee to reach Atlanta. One could argue that the current era of football has had more highlights than any other in school history. And the athletic budget had risen in 2009-10 to be one of the 13 largest budgets in the country.
Is Missouri a fit with the SEC? As Kramer says, time will tell. But the arguments being used against the Tigers now are the same ones that would have been used in 1992 had fans and media had as many outlets to share their views.