ARLINGTON, Texas — The Missouri band capped its Cotton Bowl pregame show by sidestepping into a snazzy “SEC.”
Yep, that SEC pride doesn't take long to take root.
Two years out of the Big 12, and Missourians have seared that Southeastern Conference logo into their psyche in no time at all.
Although give Mizzou fans some credit. They didn't start that maddening “SEC! SEC!” chant until their wild 41-31 victory over OSU was secure Friday night.
Unlike down in New Orleans the night before, when Alabama fans started chanting after OU's Trevor Knight threw an interception five minutes into a game that the Crimson Tide led 7-0.
That chant and what it represents is why the Big 12 sure could have used a Cowboy victory in the Cotton Bowl.
After the Sooners stunned Bama down in the Sugar Bowl, OSU had a chance to produce a sweep. If the Bedlam rivals had gone 2-0 against two of the three SEC teams ranked in the top eight of the BCS, Big 12 buttons would be busting on this fine Saturday.
Instead, the Big 12 sits with the rest of college football, not only looking up at the SEC over the last many seasons, but 2013 as well, hoping that perhaps Florida State can beat Auburn on Monday night and break the SEC's run of seven straight national titles.
At least the Big 12 has the Sugar Bowl.
“I'll let you guys determine that,” Bob Stoops said down in New Orleans on Friday morning. “I've watched Alabama run roughshod over the SEC for the last few years, and we didn't look overwhelmed.
“I've also watched Missouri and A&M the last year or two; they didn't look overwhelmed. They've been in the Big 12 for 100 years, and they've been there for two years, and they look like they match up pretty well.
“Enough of that talk. It's nonsense.”
That mostly was Mike Gundy's theory during Cotton Bowl week. He repeatedly said OSU didn't carry the Big 12 banner; the Cowboys wanted to win for the Cowboys.
Which is true. The Cowboys in the Cotton or the Sooners in the Sugar or whatever Big 12 school awaits a future SEC foe, they shouldn't concern themselves with such a burden.
But it exists. To raise its stock substantially, the Big 12 needs to beat the SEC. The SEC is king of the hill. Beating SEC heavyweights will raise the Big 12's status like nothing else.
That's why the rest of the Big 12 mourned Friday night. While Gundy and staff had to feel awful for their seniors mostly, that those veterans didn't go out on the winning side, the conference is aghast at opportunity lost.
OSU played sluggishly much of the night but caught fire late and had a chance to win. Clint Chelf took the Cowboys to a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, and when Missouri answered, so did Chelf, driving OSU into field-goal range.
But all-American Michael Sam forced a Chelf fumble, Mizzou's Shane Ray scooped it up for a 73-yard touchdown return and with 55 seconds left, the Cowboys were doomed and Missouri fans finally could chant.
Mizzou tailback Henry Josey said the Tigers watched the Sugar Bowl and were cognizant of needing to uphold the SEC's reputation.
“That's something real big, representing the SEC,” Josey said. “The SEC is such a powerful conference .. that's where all the attention is.
“That was in the back of our minds. We can't say that was the main thing we were focused on, we but we have to hold up the rep for the SEC.”
The same is true of the Big 12. Each Big 12 school has to improve the rep for its conference. OU did that in the Sugar Bowl, OSU almost did it in the Cotton. Against the SEC, one out of two ain't bad.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.