Financial implications aside, one of the pulls of the SEC is undoubtedly its prestige. Right or wrong, many college football minds consider it the best league, year in and year out.
Below are Missouri's season results over the past five years, not including this one (with conference record in parentheses):
2010 - 10-3 (6-2)
2009 - 8-5 (4-4)
2008 - 10-4 (5-4)
2007 - 12-2 (7-2)
2006 - 8-5 (4-4)
Most of those records are boosted with three or four patty cakes at the beginning of every season. This year's schedule, which was better than most years, included games against Miami of Ohio and Western Illinois. For a program that has hovered just below the top tier of the Big 12 over the past several years, head coach Gary Pinkel and athletic director Michael Alden may anticipate an unspoken boost in respect and recruiting with a move to the SEC. But is it realistic to think the win total could increase at all if the Tigers were playing the likes of Florida, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn every year?
If the SEC is the best football conference, it is so in a much different way than the Big East has been the best basketball conference recently. Whereas the Big East often boasts the most teams in the NCAA Tournament, the SEC wins national championships. Since the existence of Bowl Championship Series, the National Champion has come out of the SEC 7 times. The next highest number is 2, by the Big 12. In the last decade, Florida and LSU won 2 national titles each, while Alabama and Auburn each garnered 1.
So would playing in the SEC increase the possibility of Missouri winning a national championship? This is highly unlikely. They have struggled enough with the Big 12's best. Pinkel's record is 1-8 against Oklahoma and 0-5 Texas.
On the other hand, SEC bottom feeders Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Mississippi State are not necessarily better than Big 12 bottom feeders like Iowa State and Kansas. In fact, the Big 12 has actually shown more fluidity than the SEC, which has been pretty set in its top and bottom for some time. Examples such as Baylor and Texas Tech have shown that Big 12 schools can move from top to bottom or bottom to top pretty quickly, year to year. Or, how about Missouri, who sits last place right now in the Big 12 standings? (We'll give them the benefit of the doubt; maybe the team is distracted with all this conference mobility talk.) But either way, this fluidity within the Big 12 is to Missouri's advantage.
So if it's not about the money, then Missouri should stay put. As interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas said, the Big 12 is "the one who's tried and true and you know is going to be there."
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