The news about University of Missouri’s entrance into the SEC was a shock to no one by the time an official public announcement was made November 6, declaring the Tigers the 14th member of the Southeastern Conference after Texas A&M became the 13th member weeks prior.
Weeks of speculation about Missouri leaving for the SEC were confirmed only to have the Big East try to block West Virginia from leaving for the newly reformed Big 12 due to a 27-month notification period written within the league’s bylaws. Confusion over conference realignment still ensued.
Looking back a couple of questions have been left unanswered and perhaps none more important than did Missouri trade one unstable situation in a premiere conference for a role as an afterthought in another premiere conference?
Everyone knows that conference realignment is all about financial decisions. TV contracts and Neilson Ratings have sold out student athletes and 100 year old rivalries for the almighty dollar. Regardless of the thousands of miles that may separate one campus from another and the financial toll moms and dads may have to endure to see their children play college sports albeit football or gymnastics, the money train has left the station and Missouri is another academic institution that made a financial decision based on their bottom line not for those individuals that support or the students athletes that compete for the university.
From the outside peering in, Missouri along with Texas A&M may have made the best monetary decision for their university but at what costs to the athletic programs, primarily their football program?
The SEC has welcomed Missouri not because of their play on the football field but because of their campus’ proximity toSt. LouisandKansas Cityand the TV market value both cities represent. As a former Missouri resident I can share with those outside of the immediate area that St. Louisis a professional sports town and by and large could care less about Mizzou football.
The heart of downtown Kansas City is a 40 mile trip from Lawrence, Kansas, making Kansas City a melting pot of Kansas City Chiefs and Royals fans, Kansas Jayhawk fans, and Missouri Tiger fans.
The question begging to be asked is what did the SEC really gain by adding Missouri to their conference other than market share? Also, what kindness has the SEC given Missouri, other than split revenue, with their welcoming?
Missouricut ties with the Big 12 and every form the Big 12 has embodied dating back to 1907, including their days in the Big Eight. As a warm welcome the SEC put the Tigers in the SEC East. What logic does this serve? The SEC in so many words said, “Thanks for joining our conference. We like things the way they are right now so you are going to have to go sit over in the corner and take whatever scraps we give to you.”
Logic would dictate that Missouri be in the SEC West moving Alabama and Auburn over to the SEC East with the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri, two schools west of the Mississippi River. Still the SEC has said Missouri will start off in the East.
Missouri’s new SEC East rivals will have to be University of Kentucky, Vanderbilt University, and University of Tennessee as Missouri’s boot heel barely touches both bordering states making this a fierce rivalry all SEC fans and national media outlets will want to cover.
UK is about 470 miles from Columbia, Missouri, Nashville is about 435 miles, and Knoxville is about 610 miles away. Seems difficult to set up recruiting battles and new rivalries when your closest counterpart is at least seven hours away much less the 1,000 plus miles between Columbia and Gainesville. Good luck to the women’s softball team for either school that has to take a bus ride between the two campuses.
The SEC has said that the conference alignment with Missouri in the East may only be a temporary solution. That’s reminiscent of a parent telling their child “we’ll get that toy for you next time we come back”. Translation, it ain’t ever going to happen.
Does SEC commissioner Michael Slive really expect the Tiger fan base to travel to South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and/or Tennessee a couple of times per season? The clear message from the rest of the conference to Missouri is “thanks for giving us the 21st and 31st biggest television markets in the U.S. good luck the rest of the way you are on your own”.
When Missouri officially joins the SEC July 1, 2012, the West division will consist of Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M. The East alignment will be Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Missouri.
The SEC has seemingly forgotten thatMissourirecruitsTexasheavily. One would think that having Texas A&M guaranteed on the schedule every year would work inMissouri’s favor in recruiting battles along state lines or within a day’s drive of a parent seeing their child play.
Did the SEC also forget that Missouri shares a border withArkansas? The Tigers’ campus is only 300 miles away fromArkansas’ campus. Seems like a new natural rivalry without needing much media hype. Sorry Razorback and Tiger fans, the SEC does not want to put Alabama and Auburn in the same division with Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.
After Florida and Tennessee’s play over the past two years in football it would behoove the SEC to put Alabama and Auburn in the East division.
Jokes and financials aside, does the SEC or the University of Missouri ever expect the Tigers to be competitive in the SEC with the current alignment? Why would the SEC allow Missouri to join the conference and promise revenue sharing to a team that may not be able to pull their own football weight because the divisional alignment prohibits the Tigers from being competitive on and off the field?
Why hasMissouri’s Chancellor Brady J Deaton traded one bad situation for the Tigers athletic program for another?