Missouri’s flirtation with the SEC is just that, a flirtation. They know full well they’ll never be able to compete in that league and are just using them to get the conference they really want to look at them: the B1G Ten. Check out the lede to this article from the always-fantastic CBS Sports college football section:
ST. LOUIS — A Missouri official says the school hopes to join the SEC but would have preferred an offer from the Big Ten.
The person, who is familiar with the discussions involving conference affiliation, spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the school has not commented publicly about its intentions.
Missouri hoped to join the Big Ten in 2010 but the league instead chose Nebraska from the Big 12. The university official says the Big Ten remains Missouri’s top choice but that conference “has no interest.”
Okay, it’s not the lede so much as most of the article, but it makes it pretty obvious what’s going on there. Of course the Big Ten is the hotter conference to join. It’s more academically prestigious, it has its own network, and Mizzou’s football team will be mediocre but at least they wouldn’t be getting their asses kicked weekly like they would be in the SEC.
Apparently, Missouri had wanted to join the Big Ten even last year, but they were passed over for Nebraska–an obvious choice, by the way–and have been looking for a way out ever since.
This newest development with the SEC and the Big XII has evoked something of an outpouring of emotion from several areas, just not the ones Mizzou seems to be hoping to get it from. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is conspicuously silent on the matter and for good reason. He really covets Notre Dame, so any false moves toward anyone else, like the much-less-hot Missouri for instance, could screw that up.
Mizzou’s decision to give the newly-fraternal Big XII the double bird last night after the conference’s members agreed to share all television revenue came as something of a shock since the Tigers were one of the athletic departments who stood to lose a little face (and a lot of money) if the conference melted down and the music stopped without them having somewhere to sit down.
This whole debacle even caused ESPN’s Ted Miller to float the idea of Mizzou to the Pac-12. I love this for several reasons, most of all because it would finally top TCU to the Big East as the least geographically sensible realignment move of the last few years. It also, obviously, makes the least sense for Missouri since no recruits they could possibly pursue would care at all about playing in Arizona or Utah every year.
Missouri has a sneaky-good connection to a fairly large television market (St. Louis, Kansas City) and has a natural rivalry with Illinois that is always a big game. Not as big as Mizzou/Kansas, of course, but still. And it’s not like Missouri has any power or huge financial interest in staying in the Big XII. It’s always had a thrown-together feeling, especially with the wild differences in sanity between the Big XII North and South/Texas divisions. Most of the time, it didn’t really feel like the Tigers shared a conference with Texas, Texas A&M, et al. Just Kansas, Colorado, and a few other crap football schools.
You have to hand it to the Tigers for the way they’ve put themselves in the center of the realignment debate right after everyone thought things had settled down. Only downside is now they really do have to leave because the Big XII is going to treat them like crap if they try to come back. The “we’re on a break” thing won’t fly.