Two weeks ago, on the heels of LSU topping Alabama in the Game of the Century, the SEC announced that Missouri would be joining the conference.
Since then… silence. Rumors of negotiations and lawsuits have pretty much gone on the hush-hush. Thankfully, the focus — for two weeks at least — has gone back to what’s happening on the field rather than what’s been happening off it.
Only that might be changing.
Yesterday, CBSSports.com reported that West Virginia officials have assured the Big 12 that their school will play in the Big 12 in 2012 despite back-and-forth lawsuits between the school and the Big East. The Big East — WVU’s current home — is trying to hold the school to its contractually obligated 27-month waiting period.
Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas told CBS’ Dennis Dodd, “There’s ways to do it (exit the Big East), and West Virginia is prepared to do it.”
Meanwhile, Missouri is still trying to extricate itself from the Big 12. The quicker WVU officially becomes a Big 12 school, the sooner Mizzou can enter the SEC.
Neinas is reportedly still upset that MU went from being a “loyal member” of the Big 12 to an SEC school in 45 days. (Just as TCU went from being a loyal member of the Big East to a Big 12 school over the course of a weekend, perhaps.)
“If an institution wishes to depart the conference, that’s their prerogative,” Neinas said. “But I’m not very happy about the way Missouri handled it… I don’t think Missouri is going to get any sportsmanship awards from the Big 12 Conference this year.”
According to Neinas, MU chancellor Brady Deaton “basically reaffirmed” Missouri would have “a long-standing commitment to the Big 12 conference” on September 22nd.
Neinas also said that he tried to get all six BCS conference commissioners to meet and put a moratorium on further expansion before Missouri was officially welcomed into the SEC. In his words, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said his league “could probably work” with 13 teams in 2012. But Missouri had no interest in reversing field.
“The ball was in Missouri’s court and they said, ‘No thanks.’”
What’s frustrating in all of this is the childishness involved. The Big 12 has grabbed two schools from the Big East with no bit of worry for what its actions might do to that league. Over the past two years, schools have been “loyal” to a league one minute and gone the next. Missouri’s case is nothing new.
The Big 12 is simply trying to bleed MU for as much money as possible in terms of an exit fee. This is all just posturing. Right down to Neinas’ mention of the word, “lawsuit.”
Neinas wants to see the 45-page document that Missouri officials used to help determine whether to move to the SEC or not. The Associated Press got a copy of the report and posted excerpts a month ago. But Mizzou won’t show the full document to Neinas.
“I believe it’s very difficult to go to court and not see the other side’s brief,” Neinas harrumphed.
Perhaps if the adults in the Big 12 and SEC and Big East could start acting like adults — especially since the Big 12 knows WVU will slide right into Missouri’s old slot next summer — we could get our football season back for good.
But don’t get your hopes up. WVU’s athletic director Oliver Luck is tossing spitballs back at the Big East on his way out the door. “We were fortunate to get out. We got out when the ship was seriously going down. I mean, only the tip of the sail was showing.”
Did I say adults? Clearly that was just wishful thinking on my part.