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Conference Realignment: New Moves By Missouri To Become The 14th SEC Member

Yesterday, the Missouri Board of Curators gave Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton unanimous consent to explore a change in conference affiliation for the school.  That seems to open up a new schism in the already-fractured Big 12 even after they recently decided to share TV revenues equally in an effort to hold the conference together:

Deaton, Alden and members of the Board of Curators have been deluged in recent weeks by emails, most of them representing sentiment for Missouri to leave the Big 12. On Tuesday, fans chanted S-E-C on a teleconference intended to connect reporters with the curators’ announcement.

There is almost no doubt that the SEC is working to obtain the 14th team they need for an even number after the recent admission of Texas A&M.  Scheduling with 13 teams is a nightmare, and it's hard to imagine the SEC putting up with that for more than a season or two.

Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated wishes this conference realignment business over and done with:

Before we go any further, here's a public-service message to the fans, coaches and misguided sports writers who still fail to grasp why all of this is happening. Schools aren't conference-jumping to win football or basketball national titles. This is about money and security. Yes, Missouri would find winning at football in the SEC to be quite difficult. But its options are to not win conference titles for a lot of money in a completely stable league or to not win conference titles for less money in a relatively unstable league. If this were only about winning at football, the SEC already would have booted Vanderbilt and brought in Boise State.

Indeed, that's what this is all about.  The recent moves by the Big 12 to equalize revenue sharing is an important step to stability, so Missouri has to now decide whether to sign on to the new deal with them or move on.  The Big 12 has no lack of places to turn to get new members if Missouri does leave (even including our good buddies in red and black down by the river), so this move is beginning to seem very likely.

Still, hurdles remain.  Baylor threatened to sue the SEC over Texas A&M, and the University of Litigation may make a similar threat if Mizzou decides to leave, which would seemingly place them in a tough spot unless the SEC decides to man up and dare the Bears to file that pleading.  With things the way they are right now, I don't think they'll do that, but only time will tell.

As to what do do with the SEC divisions if Missouri decides to come along, Rocky Top Talk has a suggestion or two:

ALPHA DIVISION:  Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M

OMEGA DIVISION:  Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt


What would we gain?  First of all, every major SEC rivalry stays intact.  Third Saturday, Iron Bowl, Cocktail Party, Egg Bowl, Deep South's Oldest, Beer Barrel, etc. all survive.  Secondly, some old friends get to see each other again.  Younger UT fans might cringe over the loss of the Georgia game, but Auburn was UT's second biggest rival pre-1992, and I'd be thrilled to have them back again.  Tennessee also gets Arkansas back on the schedule every year.

For me, keeping the major conference rivalries like the Iron Bowl, Third Saturday, etc. intact is the most important part of the new reality should it actually emerge.  Some minor rivalries would die, but expansion does not come cost free.

I suppose we'll have to just wait and see what transpires, but it seems that the smart money would be on the SEC getting to 14 sooner rather than later, and this move by Missouri certainly seems to fit that bet.

What do you think about bringing Missouri to the SEC as the 14th team?