Simply put, when you think of 'The South', Missouri doesn't come up for most/many. I don't think Missouri is a Southern state, as most Southerners agree. However, that's cool that they're in our conference and I hope y'all enjoy a nice butt kicking ;)
With Texas A&M and Missouri now officially ticketed for the SEC (hopefully for 2012), a familiar email is finding its way anew into the MrSEC.com inbox:
“The SEC is no longer a regional league!”
Sorry. We’re not buying that. For decades the SEC prospered as a 7-state league: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky.
In 1992, the league expanded to include South Carolina and Arkansas. Carolina made sense, but Arkansas was a school some 400 miles from its nearest SEC rival (Ole Miss). If we’d had internet messageboards in ’92, you can bet folks would have yelped about the end of the SEC’s “regional” era. How could fans travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas?
Twenty years later that’s what some anti-expansioners are saying about the additions of A&M and Mizzou. “Too far away.” “Not a cultural fit.”
As for the cultural fit thing, if you’ve ever been to Fayetteville and Gainesville, you know there are some pretty big differences in terms of culture. Ditto Baton Rouge and Lexington, Starkville and Nashville.
But regarding distance, how many people do you know who travel to every road game with their favorite team? With HDTV in every household and every game on television these days, it seems to me that any and all schools outside the Top 20 are having to work harder than ever just to lure fans to home games, much less road games.
The fact of the matter is that most of the people who do travel with their teams do so just once or twice a year. There’s a reason most SEC teams are alloted just a few thousand tickets when they travel to their league rivals. How many Carolina fans trekked to Arkansas this past weekend? How many journeyed from Ole Miss to Kentucky? From Vanderbilt to Florida?
For those few who do travel, the SEC — even with Texas A&M and Missouri — is still the most regional league in the country (along with one other).
Columbia, Missouri is 292 miles on US-65 from Fayetteville. It’s 461 miles from Columbia to Lexington.
College Station, Texas is 366 miles from Baton Rouge.
Now compare those figures to the distance between new Big 12 member West Virginia and its closest league foe Iowa State — 871 miles.
Suddenly Missouri and Texas A&M don’t seem so isolated. But check the numbers below and you’ll better see how the SEC and the Big Ten — which just happen to be the two top conferences reputation-wise — have managed to expand their footprints without stretching their boundaries to ridiculous lengths:
|BCS Conference||Longest Road Trip||Distance Between Schools|
|SEC||Texas A&M-South Carolina||1072 miles|
|Big Ten||Nebraska-Penn State||1072 miles|
|Big 12||Texas Tech-West Virginia||1471 miles|
|ACC||Miami-Boston College||1504 miles|
|Big East*||Boise State-Central Florida||2617 miles|
*For the Big East, we’re using two of the newest invites as our example.
A difference of 300 miles is about four or five hours by car, mind you.
So just say you don’t like Missouri and/or Texas A&M. Say that Mizzou can’t win and nothing good ever came out of the Lonestar State. Just be honest and say you’re anti-expansion.
But please don’t talk about the SEC no longer being a regional league. Truthfully it ceased to be a regional league when Arkansas joined two decades ago, yet it still is the most tightly-knit BCS conference in the country… even with its new additions.