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.
So why should Missouri go? I know, everyone says the same about Mizzou they said about A&M, that the Aggies will be squashed in the SEC.
I don't believe it for either the Tigers or Aggies. They won't contend regularly in the current SEC West landscape, but they won't be doormats.
And it's not like Missouri or A&M has been tearing up the Big 12. Missouri has made two Big 12 title games, 2007 and 2008, winning neither. A&M has made two Big 12 title games, 1997 and 1998, winning the latter. In a huge upset.
That's the success rate at stake in the Aggies' move and the Tigers' decision? Two division titles in 15 years? One major bowl berth (the '98 Aggies in the Sugar) between them in 15 years?
That's what Missouri is gambling with? Mizzou could make a lot more money, find conference stability and leave the Longhorns behind. And the Tigers should forego all that because they might win two North Divisions in 15 years?
Missouri's frustration with Texas is only now bubbling. Nebraska's feelings were well-documented. Then A&M's. Finally, OU's.
Now, Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel carries the banner. His disgust with the Longhorn Network no longer is hidden.
Why would Missouri leave? Why in the world would Missouri stay?
If the SEC is interested, there's only one thing that should keep the Tigers in the Big 12.
The Big Ten. Missouri sort of started this mess 18 months ago, with its glee at Big Ten expansion. Turns out the Big Ten wasn't interested.
But Mizzou still would love to be in the Big Ten, both for academics and athletics. If Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany gives Missouri any reason for hope that his conference could expand in the future and Mizzou would be a prime candidate, that would prompt Missouri to, just like the Sooners did, swallow its pride and hold its nose and put on a happy face.
Otherwise, Missouri has little reason to turn down the SEC, which has many reasons to offer.
Not that it will make much difference back here in the shadows of darkness.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.