October 6, 2011

What would Missouri's SEC prospects be?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Reports are flying hot and heavy that Missouri wants to join the SEC as the league's 14th program. Your thoughts?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
It's funny: Two weeks ago, Missouri officials were talking about the need to stabilize the Big 12. Now, they're looking at an eastward migration. But I'm not surprised. The SEC is a lucrative, prestigious conference and the Big 12 gave Missouri the shaft too often. In '07, Missouri beat Kansas and represented the North Division in the Big 12 championship game, but it was Kansas that went to the Orange Bowl. And in '09, Missouri wanted to play in the Insight Bowl, but instead wound up in the Texas Bowl. Missouri was pining for a Big Ten invitation that never came, so surely it will jump if the SEC offers. Hey, you can't have too many Tigers in the SEC.

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Tom Dienhart's answer:
Reports indicate that Missouri's first choice is to join the Big Ten, and I wish that would have happened. But joining the SEC would be a tremendous consolation prize, if it's even correct to call it that. At least Missouri has good options, unlike Big 12 brethrenBaylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas andKansas State, who are stuck in a dysfunctional family that always will be controlled by Texas. While the Big 12 is all about what's good for Texas, a Mizzou move to the SEC would be good for both parties. The SEC would benefit from moving into new, heavily populated TV markets, add a school that's a member of the prestigious AAU and is competitive athletically with top facilities while also balancing itself at 14 teams. Mizzou would benefit from joining the nation's top league, get rock-solid stability and the potential for vastly greater revenues. But can Missouri compete? Perhaps not immediately in football, but I think over time, it will be pushed to keep up with the killer competition. And there will be greater lure for recruits to want to play for Missouri, knowing they will be competing in the nation's best league.

David Fox's answer:
If it happens, this is a bad move all around, at least as far as the on-field product is concerned. Even in Missouri's best season in 50 years, it didn't make the BCS, and I don't see Missouri having a season like that in the SEC. The Tigers topped out as a Cotton Bowl member in the Big 12 and may not have that high a ceiling in the SEC. Basketball-wise, Missouri should be competitive, but that's not why the Tigers would change leagues in the first place. As for the SEC, one of the nation's most powerful conferences is expanding by adding Texas A&M and Missouri? That adds to the middle of the league but does nothing to change the powers at the top. If anything, these moves could all but bury Kentucky football and perhaps even Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

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Mike Huguenin's answer:
Gee, it seems like just yesterday that Missouri was pledging its allegiance to the Big 12. Alas, once again, the allegiance to the almighty dollar (or penny, in some instances) trumps all. This move seems extremely likely to happen, though I don't think it's necessarily a good thing for either side. Financially, it will be a boon for Missouri, though I don't think it's the same for the SEC. I also think Mizzou eventually will regret leaving its natural geographic region. I am not sure Mizzou will be able to recruit in Texas - which provides numerous Tigers players - all that well if they play one game in that state every other year. Forget about Mizzou coaches selling the SEC; talk to enough coaches and they admit that players do like playing somewhere where their parents can see them play in person. Missouri is a much better fit, geographically and culturally, for the Big Ten, but that league evidently isn't interested. Having the SEC as a "fallback" is nice for Missouri, but I think the SEC can do (could've done?) better.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I certainly can understand Missouri's interest in leaving the uncertainty of the Big 12 for the stability of the SEC, even though its current home makes more geographic sense. Whether this move makes sense for the SEC depends on your perspective. The SEC clearly needs to add a 14th team. Having an odd number of teams isn't a good long-term situation. Trying to lure Florida State, Virginia Tech or even Clemson from the ACC seems like a better move on the surface. Those schools have greater football traditions and drawing power. Frankly, I think grabbing West Virginia from the Big East wouldn't be a bad idea, either, even though SEC officials seem opposed to that idea. But as we've learned time and time again, conference realignment is more about expanding a league's geographic footprint than anything else. The addition of Missouri would bring the SEC into the Kansas City and St. Louis markets, assuming Arkansas didn't already help enough in the latter case. And it's not as if Missouri is a bad football program. The Tigers have won at least 10 games three of the past four years and have earned six consecutive bowl bids. Missouri probably wouldn't contend for an SEC football title anytime soon, but it likely would continue to reach a bowl game more often than not even if it switched leagues.

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