I hope whichever yearly cross-divisional games TAMU and Mizzou end up playing make sense and are relevant. As a Razorback fan, I understand how difficult changing conferences really is. We got paired with South Carolina. Obviously it was the easiest thing to do since both teams were new to the league, but that game has meant nothing to each other for 2 decades. It is like the entire conference forgets we are members that week. There is no history there and no social/economic ties between the two states. By making logical cross-divisional rivalries for new members, it will only increase interest in the SEC and make the league stronger. Plus, it will allow fans from new schools to not feel alienated for so long in a new conference.
Last summer, when rumors swirled that the SEC was talking to Oklahoma and Texas A&M, many fans bemoaned the fact that the SEC might just become too tough to survive. This fall, as rumors have heated up that Missouri will fill the slot once set aside for OU, many fans are bemoaning the fact that the SEC might be adding a team that they perceive to be a cupcake.
Mike Slive just can’t win. (Aside from his bank account, of course.)
Well, it looks like those people who feel Mizzou isn’t good enough, isn’t Southern enough, or just isn’t something enough had better grab their crying towels ’cause all signs point to a Missouri-SEC marriage. Soon.
1. The New York Times reported late last night that “a university official with direct knowledge of the situation” called MU’s decision to apply for SEC membership “inevitable and imminent.” The source said that Missouri expects “no problems” when it comes to gathering enough votes to enter the league.
That likely means that Missouri will be slotted in the SEC’s East Division. Alabama — and it’s believed Tennessee — would not okay a Missouri application unless their Third Saturday in October rivalry were saved. Either Bama — and Tennessee? and others? — will be outvoted or the league has assured everyone that Mizzou will go East. Originally, it looked as though Auburn would move to the East and Missouri would stay in a more natural West alignment.
Reports from the Show-Me State have said that Missouri has no real preference in the matter, which we find surprising. It would make sense for Missouri to land in the West in order to fire up a new rivalry with Arkansas and to keep a Big 12 rivalry alive with Texas A&M… which would also allow the Tigers to continue to recruit the state of Texas heavily. The Tigers’ football success in recent years has been fueled by a Gary Pinkel-created Lonestar State pipeline. If the Tigers land in the East, they will have to recruit Florida and Georgia more often. (We assume that Arkansas would be made the Tigers’ permanent cross-divisional rival.)
Surprisingly, a quick look at the map shows that Missouri really isn’t that much farther from East Division schools than it is from those in the West.
2. Orangebloods.com – the Rivals site covering Texas — reported Monday that three sources “close to the situation” have told that site that the Tigers are ready to depart the Big 12 for the SEC. Orangebloods’ sources have said that MU may try to join the SEC for 2012-2013 rather than wait an extra year as interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas suggested last week.
Neinas’ comments regarding a 2013-14 departure for Mizzou were viewed by this site as nothing more than posturing. If the Tigers go, the Big 12 will try to hit them with a sizable exit fee. The best way to drive that penalty up is to claim that Missouri is somehow doing more damage to the league by leaving with such short notice. Of course, the Tigers are likely to announce their plans only about a month after Texas A&M announced their own exit. (Ironically, if Missouri announces a move on Thursday, it will have been 16 days from the time the school granted chancellor Brady Deaton the power to look around to the day MU makes an announcement of departure. A&M also took 16 days to complete that exact same route.)
If Missouri joins the SEC — and we expect it will — we believe the Tigers will do so next summer along with Texas A&M.
3. We mentioned Thursday above because The Kansas City Star reported last night that that day may be D-Day for the Tigers. Yesterday, the school’s board of curators released an agenda calling for a closed executive session at 3:35pm on Thursday.
4. On person not interested in all this expansion talk is Nick Saban. Asked Monday about the possible end of the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry, Saban didn’t hold back. ”Now we’re worrying about playing Missouri rather than Tennessee some time down the road. I could give a s— about all that, excuse my French. I mean, come on, let’s talk about (this week’s) game. What year are we talking about when we’re not gonna play Tennessee — 2025? I’m just hoping I can still go to the lake then, still walk around and go on a pontoon boat ride.”
The Birmingham News has video of the exchange right here.