It appears that the SEC misled Mizzou. The SEC & Mizzou benefit from the move, but it appears that Mizzou will pay a heavy price. Texas recruiting is what has allowed the program to step-up. If Mizzou does not play there, then the kids will stay away. Also Arkansas benefits most w/. the new arrangement. Arkansas has been competing w/ Mizzou for kids in Texas. Playing in the west gives Arkansas an advantage and in addition it allows them to recruit Missouri. Only the hogs benefit from the new rival.
Last weekend, South Carolina president Harris Pastides said that the SEC’s ADs “were in favor of a change for Arkansas to be Missouri’s permanent opponent and for us to get Texas A&M.” After eyeballing the results of an online fan poll the prez gave a thumbs-up to that proposal.
On Monday afternoon, Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin took to Twitter to apparently verify the new A&M-USC union:
“Just had a great conversation with the South Carolina president about our permanent SEC rivalry. Will make this very special! #SEC #WHOOP”
So end of story, right? A&M draws Carolina and Mizzou picks up Arkansas and the rest of the league’s permanent rivals stay intact. Well, not according to the folks in Columbia. The one to the West.
The Kansas City Star reported last night that when football coach Gary Pinkel was asked about Missouri’s loss of A&M and gain of Arkansas, he said he had no idea where the process stood:
“I talked to (athletic director) Mike Alden and never in any meeting he’s been in has it even been discussed.”
Hmmm. Best guesses:
1. If Carolina and A&M’s presidents are flapping their gums about a new partnership, it’s hard to believe that marriage isn’t on the way. (Then again, Pastides announced last fall that the SEC would be going to a nine-game schedule ASAP and that did not occur.)
If Alden has not been present for any meeting in which these moves were discussed then it means either a) he wasn’t present in Nashville last week — and we believe he was — or b) there’s some backdoor dealing going on in the SEC… and Mizzou’s future is being impacted by other voters. Part of the one-for-all, all-for-one SEC mindset requires the occasional self-sacrifice from league members. And losing Texas would be a sacrifice for MU.
Which brings us to possibility…
2. It could be that Alden is delaying — until things are finalized — telling Pinkel that he’s about to lose his strongest tie to the recruiting base he’s milked to rebuild the Tigers. If Pinkel had a vote, you can bet he’d pick keeping Texas A&M on the table. With a Lone Star pipeline built and new yearly battles with Georgia and Florida, Mizzou might have some work to do, but no one in the league would boast better ties to the SEC’s three best recruiting zones.
Perhaps rival SEC ADs aren’t in favor of giving that kind of aid to a conference newbie.
If the Carolina-A&M marriage comes to pass, then it will be the Gamecocks who’ll have the best recruiting ties in the league with guaranteed games every other year in Georgia, Florida and Texas.
(And, yes, we realize getting prospects out of those states and into other more distant schools is easier said than done.)
But there’s also possibility…
3. Pinkel is simply keeping his mouth shut and playing it coy. It’s not his fight, why talk about it?
Either way, it’s odd that A&M and USC officials went public with talk of their new rivalry earlier this week, yet Missouri’s coach said yesterday he’d been told there had been no discussions on that topic whatsoever.
UPDATE — The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has provided Pinkel’s full comment on the matter when asked about losing A&M for Arkansas:
“I have no idea. I talked to Mike (Alden), and every meeting he’s ever been in, it’s never even been discussed. That’s what he said to me. And at the head coaches meeting, that wasn’t even discussed.”
As we suspected, Pinkel admitted to not wanting to get into the matter: “Since I don’t have any control over it, it doesn’t really matter.”
Meanwhile, The Post-Dispatch reports that a Mizzou spokesperson said he’d heard nothing official of the switch. Ditto an Arkansas spokesperson.
UPDATE #2 – Asked about the comments made by Pastides and Loftin, SEC commissioner Mike Slive said:
”I’ll wait until our league makes a final decision before I make such pronouncements.”