When you move into a new neighborhood, what are you gonna say other than, “Hey, this place is nice?” No one wants to look like they made a bad move. No one wants to insult the new neighbors.
Still, considering the shabby state that the Big 12 was in when Missouri chose to depart it, it’s easy to believe Tiger athletic director Mike Alden when he suggests his school’s new league has better esprit de corps than its old one… which he did yesterday at his first SEC Meetings in Destin.
“These schools, they don’t talk about just living in the moment; they talk about what’s good for the league a decade from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now,” he said. ”I’m not used to that… I don’t say that negatively — that’s a fact.
According to The Kansas City Star, Alden also commented on “how willing the leaders of the SEC’s power schools were to side with issues that might not be in their own individual interest, but were in the best interest of the league as a whole.” Mizzou’s AD even tossed out some specific bouquets to a few of the Tigers’ new rivals.
“We’ve heard that from Florida, we’ve heard that from Alabama, we’ve heard that from Georgia, we’ve heard that from Kentucky,” Alden said. “Now that doesn’t mean Alabama isn’t going to try to beat your brains out when you play, but when they’re in that meeting and they’re saying ‘We’re willing to take less than maybe we’ll be able to earn on our own because it’s good for the league,’ it’s (something that’s) been built over time… It’s about the reality of those very successful, longtime institutions being prepared to say look, we’re only as strong as our weakest link, our least-resourced institution in our league. The Big Ten has the same model. Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan talk the same way they do in the SEC, and I think that’s a culture, (one) that’s been built.”
Alden found time to salute SEC commissioner Mike Slive, as well, while speaking with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. ”In my opinion, it comes from Mike Slive; I think he’s one of the great leaders in college sport, maybe all of sport,” said Alden. ”And nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s looking to.”
Alden revealed that A&M and Mizzou officials will travel to Atlanta next week for “a celebration” of their membership in the SEC. He also told The Post-Dispatch that last week, Arkansas AD Jeff Long and several members of his staff attended a Tiger athletics retreat, “sharing best practices.”
It’s no wonder that Alden would point to the all-for-one, one-for-all attitudes of the SEC and the Big Ten. The two leagues are the most stable in college athletics these days and that’s not expected to change in the future. That stability is built on an arms-locked philosophy.
Clearly, that’s a philosophy that did not exist in the old Big 12. Whether the new Big 12 can create a new spirit of unity to match the SEC’s and Big Ten’s remains to be seen. But Missouri and Alden won’t have to worry about that any longer. They’ve already found their happy place.