So after weeks of frittering around and not announcing what everyone knew was going to happen, Missouri finally made it official today. They’ll be departing the Big XII, which they’ve been a part of since it was the Big 6, for the Southeast Conference.
It’s easy to understand what lured Missouri away from a rivalry with Kansas that dates back to the Civil War. The smell of money is powerful, and Mizzou thinks it can make more from the television contracts in the SEC than in the Big XII.
But understanding what tempted the Tigers is different from it making sense. MU will make more money, but how much of it will be reinvested in traveling? Prior to Colorado leaving for the PAC-12 this season, Boulder was the farthest trip from Columbia MO they had to make for games as part of their regular schedule. Now, they’ll be traveling to Athens GA, Gainesville FL, Columbia SC, and other locations that are not the short bus trips to Lawrence, Manhattan, Ames, and Norman.
Arkansas left the Southwest Conference in 1991 for the SEC. They have yet to develop a rivalry of any stature close to the one they had with Texas. Maybe they and Mizzou can put one together. But can it equal the intensity and history of MU-KU? Of course not.
And then there’s this little tidbit: since the Big XII was formed in 1996, Missouri has fewer conference chanmpionships across all sports than any other school in the league. Now they’ll be joining the toughest conference in the nation. What’s that going to do to their won-lost percentage? An expanded Big XII would have put MU back in the weaker North Division, which would have increased their opportunities for national rankings and a good bowl bid in football. In the SEC, they’ll be lucky to be bowl-eligible from year to year.
But despite all this, it makes sense for Missouri to join the SEC on one critical front. Missouri was part of the Confederate States of America. Now they can rejoin their brother states from the Civil War. Perhaps now the South can rise again.
So congrats, Missouri. You’re back in the South, where you belong. Good luck to you.
You’re gonna need it.