It has been confirmed today that the Big 12 Board of Directors has agreed to a six-year media rights deal that would distribute television revenue evenly among all members of the Big 12 Conference.
This doesn't mean that the Big 12 has been saved, though. Check out this quote from the Big 12 press release on the issue.
"This action becomes effective after each member institution commits a grant of rights to the Conference for its Tier I and II television rights for at least six years."
Mizzou, like all the other schools currently in the Big 12, still has a decision to make. This deal would bring stability to the conference for the next six years. If a school decided to leave the Big 12 in the next six years under this agreement, that school would be forfeiting all their TV revenues under the time frame of the six-year agreement to the Big 12. This would clearly make members of the Big 12 unattractive candidates for expansion of the SEC, Pac-12 or Big Ten in the near future.
So why isn't Mizzou chomping at the bit to agree to this deal? The answer is that they still have options. The feeling of disrespect from the conference that Mizzou's fan base (and leadership, I'm sure) is feeling and has been feeling in recent years is still festering and could result in a move to greener pastures: the SEC.
As reported by the KC Star, Mizzou had an offer to join the conference if the Big 12 fell apart, but since that hasn't happened, leaders of the SEC have been reluctant to expand on their reported interest in Mizzou as the conference's 14th member. The fact that Mizzou has called a meeting for its Board of Curators tomorrow in St. Louis shows that the offer is still probably on the table for the school.
So is the SEC really the best option for Mizzou at this point?
The conference is obviously held in high regard when speaking about football and Gary Pinkel's program has certainly been consistent enough over the past 5 seasons to fit in toward the middle of the pack in the SEC. Mizzou could also come in right away and establish a good basketball presence in a league that has been weak in the past couple of years. Seems like a good fit.
Staying in the Big 12 would be also be a bit of a slap in the face to most Mizzou fans who feel like it is time for a change and time to be appreciated. The new TV revenue deal is a step in the right direction for the conference, but who knows what the stability of the conference will be like at the end of the six years, when conference realignment will most likely be settled. Mizzou doesn't want to be left in the cold at the end of that deal.
Also, this proposed TV rights deal does nothing to kill the Longhorn Network, which was a big part of why the conference started to break up. Texas will still reign supreme in the Big 12, no matter what other kind of agreements the conference can think of.
There is something to say for tradition and rivalries and staying with what you know, but in this case it seems like Mizzou has been presented with a once-in-a-lifetime offer that could be foolish to turn down.
My opinion, like most people who follow the Tigers, is that Mizzou should not let this opportunity slip away while they have it and they should join the SEC. Staying in the Big 12 wouldn't be as bad as some people make it out to be for Mizzou, but the better option for this school at this time and place is to make a change. Sometimes you've got to take a risk to get the reward.