Missouri should follow its heart in conference realignment

Berry Tramel: The Big 12 will survive even if the Tigers seek greener pastures. And if the SEC wants Missouri, then it should join.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 27, 2011

Just because the Bedlam plot of the Big 12 soap opera has ended — we're staying right here, in this vampire of a conference — doesn't mean the story is over.

Your turn, Missouri.

Your turn to decide whether this Dark Shadows league that can't be killed is the best place for you.

I don't know if the SEC wants Missouri, and I don't know if Missouri wants to go. But this I know. The SEC should want Mizzou, and Mizzou should want the SEC.

The Big 12 will survive without Missouri. I said something off hand 18 months ago, not sure even if I really believed it, but danged if it hasn't come to pass.

As long as you've got OU and Texas, you've got a league. As long as you've got the Sooners and the Longhorns, which means you've got OSU and Texas Tech, too, you've got a conference. Even if it's a ghastly shell of what it once was.

So Missouri doesn't hold the Big 12's fate in its hands. Sure would be nice if the Tigers stayed, because don't look now, but good football programs suddenly are in short supply.

But the Big 12 will endure. Nothing short of a stake through Bevo's heart will end the Big 12. OU, OSU and Tech aren't going to the Pac, Texas has everything it wants and Iowa State, Kansas, Baylor and K-State are just happy to have a place to hang their hat.

Do the math. That's eight schools. Heck, don't expand at all and you still could have a league. It's been done before.

So Missouri, do whatever you want. Don't worry about putting Iowa State out of business or getting sued by Kenny Starr. Misery loves company, so we'd love for you to stay, but whether Missouri loves company or Missouri loves misery, well, that's up to you.

But the SEC would be nuts not to take a crack at Mizzou. If the ACC has closed the door to raiders — imagine that, a conference with the vision and leadership to proactively safeguard its house — then the SEC's options are limited.

The powerhouse league can't stay at 13 schools. That's just goofy. Got to get to 14, which means if OU isn't interested (and the Sooners most definitely are not), then Missouri and West Virginia are the viable candidates.

Mizzou brings much better markets for television contracts, thanks to Kansas City and St. Louis; much better academic reputation, which could start to appeal to the SEC with the addition of another stellar school in Texas A&M; and, don't forget, good football.

Maybe you could argue West Virginia trumps Missouri on the gridiron. But I would argue otherwise, that if you put Mizzou in the Big East the last several years, the BCS bowls would have rolled into Columbia.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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...
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