Missouri is now a full season removed from its longtime association with the Big 12 schools.
In terms of both culture and football, the Tigers' 2011 move down South seemed strange and out-of-place when they made it, and the odd feel between Mizzou and its new conference brethren hasn't completely dissipated.
“It didn't seem like a real natural fit,” said Dave Matter, a longtime Missouri beat writer for the Columbia Tribune and now the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I grew up in Missouri and have lived here all my life, so it just seemed a little off. But I think in the whole context of conference realignment, that's kind of where college sports are right now. There's just so much mixing and matching that it's kind of the new reality.”
The United States Census Bureau splits the country into four regions — Northeast, Midwest, South and West. Missouri, in the Midwest, is the only SEC school that isn't in the Southern region.
“When Arkansas joined the SEC (in 1991), they might've seemed like kind of an odd fit too,” Matter said. “But now when we think of Arkansas, we think of that as an SEC-type program and culture, so I think it'll just take time.”
Missouri was a founding member of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which evolved into the Big Eight and then the modern-day Big 12 Conference.
By the time it jumped shipped, Mizzou football had finally become consistently competitive in its old conference. The Tigers were one win away from a berth in the BCS national championship game at the end of the 2007 season, and won 48 games between that year and its final Big 12 season in 2011.
Last year, the Tigers went 5-7 and failed to qualify for a bowl for the first time since 2004.
Matter, who covered lots of Missouri's Big 12 road games and spent last fall visiting South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida, said the city of Columbia has embraced its new SEC identity, and that he doesn't think the athletic department regrets the move.
“I think everything is seen through the prism of football, and that was a disappointing season,” Matter said. “I don't really sense regret. I think they knew it'd be pretty tough. But they'd gotten so used to winning in the Big 12 that it was just kinda hard to swallow a losing season after getting to a point where they were winning at least eight games a year.
“I think it's gonna take a couple years just to see how the program adjusts to the new league.”