Well, the proverbial cat is out of the bag, as you have probably noticed. Missouri is headed for the SEC.
In the past few months, our headlines have been dominated by all the key stories of the 2011 fall: Steve Jobs' death, a devastating earthquake in Turkey, the Cardinals winning the World Series, Herman Cain's sexual allegations, and...Missouri leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC?
Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M, TCU, Boise State, and West Virginia are a few of the other schools that have either switched conferences recently or who are in the process of doing so. In all those cases, the process was fairly predictable: a few rumors, a confirmation, some bickering between the competing conferences about the terms, then the story dies.
But not so with Missouri. For whatever reasons, this story has consisted of endless speculation, lots of ambiguity, a new story any time someone with a tie to Missouri threw out any sort of opinion on the matter. Our own SB Nation Kansas City has produced its own lengthy story streams about Missouri's conference realignment. Maybe that says something about the media, but I think it also says something about the way the university has handled the situation.
To continue with the analogy Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas started, Missouri has handled this whole thing like the popular girl considering all her prom options. The problem I see is that Missouri isn't the popular girl. She's certainly not the most beautiful in the class.
Men's football and basketball are the biggest sports bread winners, so it makes sense that accountability would start there. Missouri football has beaten Texas and Oklahoma a grand total of once in the last decade. They didn't win the Big 12 Championship once during that span, although they played in the championship twice.
In basketball, the men's team won the Big 12 tournament once in basketball from 2000 to 2010 (even though they did not win the regular season that year). From 2000 to 2010, Missouri men's basketball competed in the NCAA tournament a respectably mediocre six times.
I keep hearing the laments of the Kansas-Missouri rivalry ending, so I decided to do some research. Turns out, the Tigers have lost five straight and ten of their last 11 to the Jayhawks on the basketball court. Since 2000, the Tigers have beaten the Jayhawks six times in 26 attempts. Some rivalry. Sounds like USC-Notre Dame in football.
Consider these facts up against Missouri's likely replacement in the Big 12, West Virginia. The Mountaineers may reside further away and lack some of the emotional history with teams like Kansas and Oklahoma, but you cannot argue with the success of their programs in the last decade.
West Virginia played in and won BCS games in 2004 and 2007. From 2005 to 2008, the Mountaineers won four straight bowl games. In basketball, they may be even more successful. Since 2005, West Virginia has played into the NCAA Sweet 16 four times, the Elite Eight twice, and the Final Four in 2010. During that span, the Mountaineers missed the NCAA Tournament only once, in 2007.
All things considered, the high-maintenance Missouri Tigers really won't be missed all that much by the Big 12.
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