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Conference realignment: Missouri, Texas A&M will regret leaving the Big 12

BERRY TRAMEL COMMENTARY — It's time to look ahead and predict who will regret leaving their conferences for greener pastures. Among those that will regret the move: Missouri, Texas A&M, Syracuse and Boise State.
by Berry Tramel Published: February 13, 2012

The carousel still spins. The latest changes in conference realignment are Memphis to the Big East and a merger with the Mountain West and Conference USA.

More to come, no doubt.

But rather than look ahead and predict further changes, let's look ahead and predict future feelings. How will the schools that have changed neighborhoods feel about their move?

Everyone is pumped at first. Change is exciting. Then reality sets in. When reality arrives, who will be glad they jumped, and who won't? Let's gauge the eventual level of regret for each of the 16 schools that jumped into and/or out of a power conference.

Nebraska: No regrets. The Huskers miss the Oklahoma rivalry, but it was a shell of its former self anyway. The Big Ten is perfect for Nebraska. The Huskers might not win a Big Ten title anytime soon, but the Huskers' last Big 12 football title was 1999.

Missouri: Regrets. The Tigers actually will be fine with SEC football. I think they'll win their share of games, make a bowl virtually every year, make a run at a division title or two. Might even win the SEC East sometime. In other words, do about what Mizzou has done in the Big 12 the last 6-8 years. But Missouri is going to miss Big 12 basketball. Its games with Kansas. The conference tournament in Kansas City, which has served as a Mizzou reunion lo these many years. Neither can be replicated in the SEC, and when the Tigers are playing South Carolina or somebody in an 11:30 a.m. Thursday game in the first round of the SEC Tournament, with maybe 300 Mizzou fans and 4,000 total in the Georgia Dome, Missouri people will look at each other and say, what have we done?

Colorado: No regrets. The Buffs were in the Big 12/Big Eight/Big Seven for 60 years, and not one thing bound them to the conference. No real rivalry. No great tradition, except for three or four years of Bill McCartney excellence 20 years ago. Colorado might never feel a strong connection with the Pac-12, but it never felt a strong connection with its old partners, either.

Texas A&M: Regrets. The Aggies left the Big 12 for one reason. To get away from Texas. Except the Ags are going to realize, they didn't get away from the Longhorns. In the boardrooms and courtrooms and teacher lounges all across Texas, there will be Texas Exes, grinning at A&M's struggles to overcome Alabama or LSU or Auburn. And the only satisfaction A&M ever got in this bad-blood rivalry – beating Texas – now is gone.

West Virginia: No regrets. Who knows if the Mountaineers will enjoy the Big 12 or not? West Virginia no doubt would have preferred the ACC, because of geography, but that door never opened. So the Mountaineers travel cross-country, where they should be fine competitively and they most definitely will not be in the dysfunctional Big East, which started out as a compact hoops league and now is bloated from sea to shining sea, much to the chagrin of old-line league members.

TCU: No regrets. In all the realignment chaos, the Horned Frogs are the feel-good story. Barred at the gate of a prestigious conference in the mid-‘90s, Texas Christian picked itself up, dusted itself off, made itself better and now has a seat at the table. In the next five years, no school in America will enjoy its conference more.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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