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Questions Raised By Accidental Web Post

So how big of a mistake was made when the SEC’s official website posted a “Missouri Joins The SEC” packet late last night?

Purty big.

Let’s run through some of the questions raised by the gigantic goof:

1.  Was it an accident or a hoax?

Clearly it was an accident.  The page was done in a fashion identical to’s coverage of Texas A&M’s entry into the league.

Also, top SEC PR man Charles Bloom tweeted the following with regards to the error at 9:22 this morning:

“Web vendor made mistake.  No agreement between SEC and Missouri.”

I don’t believe that cat will head willingly back into the bag.

2.  So who is the web vendor?

The web vendor in this case is XOS Digital.  They are a growing web company and have had a fruitful relationship — at least until now — with the SEC.

3.  Are we really to believe this information was put together by the vendor and then accidentally released?

Apparently so.  But the Q&A sessions with Chris Dortch and Tony Barnhart make it a bit harder to believe that the vendor’s only error wasn’t just posting the info early.

It was clearly the SEC’s error to have it all put together early.  (Though it’s certainly possible that the league had the page made, then had to hold it due to bigger Big 12 gripes than were expected.)

Clearly, it wasn’t XOS Digital who interviewed Dortch and Barnhart.

4.  What kind of position does this put Barnhart in?

You can bet Dortch and Barnhart weren’t happy about the release.  Barnhart — like so many of us in the media these days — wears about 10 different hats.  He’s employed in one capacity or another by CBS Sports, CSS, the SEC, and WQXI-AM 790 in Atlanta.

From reading the questions, it appears that this Q&A could have been done in an “If Missouri joins, what would you think” fashion.  Still, even if the SEC asked him to do a Q&A on a hypothetical situation, Barnhart’s sharp enough to know what that would mean.

So it’s possible that he’s now stuck in a rough spot.  What will his CBS Sports bosses say if they believe he had a scoop and sat on it?

Here’s a guy who answered some questions for the SEC, kept it under his hat — one of those 10 he wears — as was surely requested by the league, and then got burned for doing so.

5.  So what kind of trouble could this cause for Missouri’s attempt to exit the Big 12?

A lot.  Baylor president Kenneth Starr has proven to be a litigious two-face in the realignment game so far.  He reportedly threatened to sue the SEC for tortious interference in the case of Texas A&M’s Big 12 exit.  Then he and the Big 12 raided the Big East for TCU and currently look to do so again with West Virginia.

But seeing as how he had no issue with being duplicitous on the one hand, we doubt he’d have any problem being duplicitous on the other.  “To heck with the Big 12′s Big East raid, we’ve got proof of SEC-Missouri dealings!”

If nothing else, the Big 12 just got some more leverage in its negotiations with Mizzou and that exit fee could be going up.

6.  Could the SEC actually be in danger of a lawsuit this time around?

Yes and no.  Yes, there now appears to be what could be viewed as a smoking gun if a lawsuit went to court in Waco, Texas or Kansas City, Missouri.  (SEC claims that it — or XOS Digital — had just built the page in case things worked out with MU wouldn’t hold much water in a Big 12 state court.)

No, because the Big 12 and any individual party from inside that conference who might sue has done the exact same thing by raiding the Big East.  A judge with common sense would save time and money by tossing this one out.

Still, the danger level did go up for the SEC with this mistake.

7.  What must Missouri be thinking?

Since last summer, MU officials have taken a pie in the face from the Big Ten and have had to deal with a costly “the SEC is what’s left” leak from an anonymous school official.  They also had a 45-page research piece and cost/benefit analysis on SEC membership reach the press.

Now, when they appear to be buttoning things up, an enormous mistake is made on the SEC side of things.  Cursed, anyone?

8.  Could this slow the process down further?

Most definitely.  With the Big 12 now holding more leverage, it’s more likely Mizzou will wind up playing out one more year in that league (unless WVU or U of L can escape the Big East quickly).  How much more likely?  No one knows.

The Big 12 was playing harder ball than expected before this web error.  The error now gives that league a bit more power in negotiating sessions.  That’s going to equal a slow down on some scale.


This gaffe is the kind that can change lives.  For the folks at Missouri, the SEC, and the Big 12.  For the folks at XOS Digital who might lose some big business over this.  For the poor guy who hit the wrong button to send this info into cyberspace.

Sadly, we know how easy it is to type in a wrong date and see a story post at the wrong time.  We know how one key punch can release information that’s not meant to be seen yet.

So we feel for the folks at XOS Digital.  Big money situations or not, mistakes happen.  These are humans pushing the buttons.

But, boy, this mistake was a biggie.



Slive will get his legacy moment soon enough but it is poetic justice that before basking in glory, he must first endure weeks of chaos and public embarrassment as a result of his decision to fix something that was never broken.


It's kind of like the box of Super Bowl Champion XX.... hats and shirts they have ready for each team at the Super Bowl. One set goes to the champions and the other to a bunch of poor people in Nicaragua. In this case one of the boxes got opened early and someone started wearing them around for the world to see.

Old Sarge
Old Sarge

Could it have been a calculated mistake? Could it have been the catalyst for the WVU announcement?

Interested Observer
Interested Observer

A little hyperbole on your part John. This really isn't that big of a deal.

Given Kenneth Starr's actions, I can see why you're very reactionary to something like this, but I doubt even Starr thinks this is a big deal.

His saber-rattling a few months ago was just to jockey for Baylor to remain in a BCS conference. It looks like the Big 12 is going to survive (for now). Thus, Starr's saber-rattling ends.

He's no longer a threat, and probably not even interested in what the SEC's doing now. He's already gotten what he wants (UT and OU staying put). He couldn't care less what the SEC does.


I tend to agree. While not the typical SEC precision execution, given that the Big 12 has once (TCU) and is about to a second time (WVU, at least as of now) taken members of another league WHICH HAD NOT FORMALLY WITHDRAWN FROM THEIR CURRENT CONFERENCE. Don't see how they can complain about that against MU/SEC. It's America and anyone can sue anyone else for anything, shouldin't be a big issue.

I think the various powers have collectively seen the past few days in particular as very embarrasing, and my guess is there are multiple behind the scenes conversations taking place to work all this out more globally and avoid lawsuits. WVU to Big 12 for 2010, MU to SEC for 2012, and - probably, but not for sure, Louisville we'll take care of you later; chill for a while. I'm betting the TV networks are 'helping out' as well. MU might have to pay more than they otherwise would, but then again, remember that legally speaking they're doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time period as TAMU under the Big 12 bylaws. They should be treated the same. Negotiations underway.

Announcement probably Monday, if not sooner, hopefully.


Question: Why are the rules so much different for the SEC than the other conferences? It seems as if every other conference Big 12 included has the freedom to "Raid at Will" but the SEC has to tread softly to avoid lawsuits and the appearance of conference destroyers. Whats interesting in all this is that of all of these conferences, the SEC is the only conference that doesn't have a buyout clause. But then again I havent heard any talk of LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, or Florida leaving the SEC. In fact I havent read any reports of Olemiss, Mississippi State or Vandy jumping ship either.

Mizzou fan in Texas
Mizzou fan in Texas

The Rolling Stones "Under My Thumb" is being played a little softer in Austin, TX today...


Concerning the article - Meh, I don’t see this as amounting to anything significant. Chancellor Deaton alluded to talks with SEC officials so the possibility was already officially out for public consumption. Also, you could just argue that it’s good business sense to have these stories prepared and ready to go in the event they’re needed. As a parallel comparison, major media outlets often have obituary stories poised to publish for when high profile figures buy the farm.

As far as we know, the SEC could have another practically identical page stored somewhere announcing West Virginia or Virginia Tech joining the conference. The Big XII probably have a couple – One saying Mizzou is leaving and one that they’re staying.


Mizzou fan here can anyone tell me why you can not by a conference flag for the SEC. Would like it for the game against Texas in two weeks. Pac12 and B1G have them but can't find one for the SEC


ESPN reporting that WVU joining the Big XII has been formally announced. Here’s hoping this clears up a few obstacles for Mizzou.


I would say it's a lot hyperbole with a good dose of spin and propoganda. There is a significant difference between A&M and Mizzou being raided by the SEC and the Big 12 raiding the Big East. Namely, a Big 12TV contract with Fox with a large payout and requirements as to the number and type of members in the conference. Big East doesn't have a TV contract in place, so there are no damages associated with voiding such a contract like in the Big 12.


The truth is that the SEC gets threated more because it flinched when threatened the last time. The ACC has shown it does nto care about the threat of lawsuits, its going to do what it will and take lawsuits as they come. By backing down before the SEC will now always be threatened with legal action, cause the other side knows it will work to get the conference to back off, at least for a good while.



All valid points. But if you're dealing with someone who's looking for a reason to sue -- Kenneth Starr, for example -- then this gaffe gives them something tangible to take into court.

Would it be thrown out? Probably -- as we stated in the piece -- unless it's filed in Waco, Kansas City or some other scorned Big 12 town.

But it could slow the negotiation process by a day, a week, or longer. At some point, there's got to be a drop-dead date for conferences to add and subtract new members. SEC officials have said that deadline is fast approaching. So armed with new leverage might the Big 12 be able to stall until Mizzou can't leave for 2012? It's possible.

All that said, this looks to be a bigger deal for XOS Digital.

Thanks as always for reading,


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