Missouri's move to the SEC is official, that much we know. What we don't know is how Missouri will fit in culturally and athletically with the current members of the SEC. The conference is known for its rabid fan bases and almost irrational love for football. Missouri? Not so much.
How can Missouri, a state with a large number of pro teams in multiple sports, fit into a conference filled with states that have a college-football-first attitude?
Here are some suggestions on how Missouri can blend into the SEC as quickly as possible.
1. For football, an SEC loss is is better than any other win.
This is the most important thing to learn as a new member of the SEC: the SEC is king. If a fan from a team from another conference tries to talk any sort of trash about your football team, no matter how Missouri ends up performing in the SEC, you win the argument. You must be convinced that the SEC houses the top 12 (now 14) teams in the nation in any given year. For any other school to even think that they have a right to call themselves better than any of the 14 SEC schools without experiencing the rigors of an 8-game SEC schedule is just crazy.
By outside logic, a team that goes winless in the SEC should probably be considered a bad team, but anyone who goes through that kind of conference schedule should be considered a great team. Do we really want to have a team like Boise State so high in the rankings? Even teams from so-called "major" conferences like the Big Equation (12-2-1+2-1) and Pac-12 don't have any idea how football is played in the SEC. No one can compete.
To really believe this one, you must ignore any previous match-ups between SEC and non-SEC schools. If a non-SEC school wins, it is either luck or the SEC school didn't really care because it was a useless non-conference game. The SEC ALWAYS WINS. This cannot be debated.
2. Learn how to cheer for your conference mates.
Something that SEC fans pride themselves on is being a united conference. This is one of the main reasons that the big guns at Missouri decided to leave the unstable Big 12 and latch on to the SEC. Still, it's going to be a little weird for Missouri fans, who have grown up hating a number of Big 12 teams - including Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska - to learn to love most of their new conference mates.
It's in Missouri fans' DNA to hate. Tiger fans are born with the knowledge that Kansas is the enemy and that nothing they do in the world of sports can be viewed as positive. Missouri fans actually take as much (or even more) pleasure in seeing their rivals lose as they do when their team wins - and this is coming from a student at the University of Missouri.
So now when Missouri fans see a fellow SEC school in a bowl game, it's going to be really, really awkward to cheer when they win (because, as argued before, we know they will). But, as you have learned from your new conference mates, the SEC trumps all, even sports-hate.
3. Proudly boast your traditions and fans as the best of the best.
No matter what SEC school you talk to, they will argue that their traditions are the best. Texas A&M is already one step ahead of Missouri in this regard because of the amount of time they spend talking about traditions (hint: a lot), but I think Tiger fans can learn to be as obnoxious as their new conference mates.
Missouri has the first homecoming (maybe), The Columns, the first and best journalism school, Tap Day and many more minor traditions (like rubbing David R. Francis' nose), so it's not like they don't have enough to brag about. They just have to learn to be as incredibly obnoxious as the rest of the SEC schools are about their traditions and intense fandom.
4. Make sure Mizzou is the center of your life on Saturdays in the fall.
This is one of the most important changes/adjustments Mizzou fans must make. Tiger fans generally like going to Saturday football games and the stadium usually has 65,000+ fans for any game, but the intensity level must pick up. Right now, Missouri fans are not up to par with SEC schools and need to learn how to be better football fans.
No more leaving at halftime to refuel in the parking lots. No more booing your own team when you are up by 10+ points. No more "FIRE PINKEL!" or "FIRE YOST!" shouts after every incomplete pass (that probably wont stop). No more leaving games early because Missouri is either winning or losing by more than 17 points. SEC fans are better than that, so Missouri must now learn to be better than that.
Missouri obviously has a long way to go to be a true SEC school. Becoming more fanatical overall and irrational when talking about other conferences is a good start to fitting right in to its new conference!
[Most of this article is written in jest. Take no offense, SEC and Missouri fans.]
Make sure to check out more Missouri coverage at Rock M Nation.