The Missouri Tigers are in the middle of a hurricane that changes paths every day.
They have an unsettled and abusive home situation, and potentially have a shiny new home waiting to save them from all of their problems. However, such as abusive relationships go, the abusers have come back home and said it’s all going to be alright again. But this time things are different. Help’s come…and it’s come from the form of the most promised of all lands, and has made the University of Missouri the biggest wild card in crazy hand being dealt around the NCAA these days.
Last summer when the conference was being picked through, there was nothing that Missouri could do but hope for the best. The Big 10 only wanted Nebraska and Colorado was a geographical benefit to the then-Pac 10 to expand its reach into the Mountain Zone area. At this point, the rumor is the rule and nobody is saying anything about a future move, which can be spun either way.
Oh, what a difference a day makes. In the course of well under 24 hours, the entire power balance that has crippled Mizzou’s progress and clouded the view of their future was lifted from over one state, and drifted to the south. When the SEC and Pac 12 simultaneously opened and closed their respective doors, the tables turned on Oklahoma, Texas and all of their neighboring dependant schools and left them to inherit the most uncomfortable space in college sports: a future in the Big 12.
Isn’t that funny? All the schools that held so many of their conference mates hostages to their decision have now had the gun turned on them. The Pac 12 isn’t interested. The SEC, while secretive about its overall intent, or goal to become an absolute Super-Conference, hasn’t said anything more than it wants a 13th and 14th team. Texas A&M’s jump is complete, and if Mizzou is to follow, then the door could be closed for any other Big 12 refugees to follow through. Oklahoma and Texas will get their wish to become the strangest bedfellows in college sports and find out how cold it is in the Midwest these days. A climate they created with their selfish power plays and attempts to get their way with no other considerations made. And the decision to latch onto the future of these two schools from Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State will send them reeling into the same uncertainty that Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State have lived in with Mizzou for the last year. Role reversal is fun, right boys?
The debate about whether Mizzou can make the switch from a division that has meddled to get over multiple humps created by their potential new conference foes on the is both relevant and not. The program has made incredible strides over the last 10 years, and has crafted a niche in its current place that isn’t a consistent champion, but is never much of an underdog either. It will take time to reestablish such a groove in another conference in all sports. The two flagships, money raking programs will have different roads back up the hill. In basketball, the program would slide into a similar place in their potential new home. Old foes Kansas and Texas would be substituted out for new ones in Kentucky and Florida in terms of powerhouse upper tier teams that provide a constant challenge to overcome. The football team however is in for a much greater, yet not completely unfamiliar challenge.
Regardless of which division they join, they would have to step up their performance to keep with the curve. SEC is as good as it gets. It’s the most dominant gathering of teams in all of sports, collegiate or professional. The East Division features the Florida Gators, and current down but strong programs such as the Tennessee Volunteers, among others. The West is where is hot and haziest, with three of the last four BCS National Champions in the Auburn Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers. The team has never faced the upper tier programs in the SEC in recent times, but has fared well in matchups with the division, going 4-1 against the SEC under Gary Pinkel, including two bowl victories in the 2005 & 2007 seasons.
In the midst of the silence of the last few days, an unlikely voice spoke the loudest truth of all. When Pinkel, who has showcased an uncanny blend of stoic agility in dodging any and all questions about his employing institution’s future, called the Big 12 both “sad” and “embarrassing”, it spoke volumes about how bad things have become in the conference. There is no word that can put a concrete future in front of the Big 12. If the invite to the SEC is real, it’s not even a matter of when, rather its how so can we get there. The university should follow the lead of its football coach in moving again the “home” that as treated them as visitors for so long.
These decisions aren’t made in the athletic department, but within Board of Curators meetings for a reason. It’s all about money, and securing the safest yet most lucrative home possible. With all these considered, that makes this whole thing a slam dunk, with a bit of an unexpected bonus as well. Make the jump out of the fray, and while giving in some in results department on-field, but get a safe home…as well as some revenge in the process.
Sounds good over here.