Finally Official: Missouri to Depart Big 12 For SECPosted by dnspewak on November 7th, 2011
As thousands of fans chanted “M-I-Z, S-E-C” during the SEC’s official welcoming reception at the University of Missouri on Sunday afternoon, it was apparent that the MU crowd had no qualms with leaving the Big 12 behind. The Tigers are off to the SEC — league commissioner Mike Slive certainly sounded happy about it, as did MU chancellor Brady Deaton. But what about the Big 12 offices? We’re guessing the reaction isn’t quite as celebratory there.
Yes, the league has moved on. Despite its legal situation with the Big East, West Virginia looks like a good bet to replace Missouri at some point, and the Mountaineers’ athletics are more than comparable to MU’s. However, losing Missouri is still a blow to the league both geographically and academically. Columbia, Missouri, is in the heart of Big 12 country; Morgantown, West Virginia, not so much. It’s a long plane ride out there, that’s for sure. You could even use the term “misfit.” Academically, MU is ranked significantly higher than West Virginia in various college publications. MU is an AAU member; West Virginia is not.
We all knew this official announcement would come soon. But now that it’s a done deal, it’s tough news for the rest of the Big 12 to swallow. The league will be just fine, but losing Missouri’s television markets in Kansas City and St. Louis, as well as the aforementioned geographic and academic issues, all combine to lower the conference’s overall profile.
Also, where does the Border War rivalry now stand? Bill Self said last month he’d consider leaving Missouri off of his non-conference schedule if the Tigers bolt from the Big 12, and KU tweeted yesterday that Missouri had ‘forfeited’ the ‘century-old rivalry.’
The Border War could still generate enormous fan interest and revenue as a non-conference contest, and it’s historic enough to match the Louisville/Kentucky rivalry. It would be a shame to lose it. Even if Missouri and Kansas won’t ever fight for Big 8 or Big 12 conference titles again, there’s no reason it can’t be an important December game in much the same way that Missouri plays Illinois each year as well.