Posted by Jerry Hinnen
According to a report from the Birmingham News, Missouri may not have the support needed to join the SEC after all.
The News's Jon Solomon reported Thursday morning that the "majority" of conference presidents and ADs would support the Tigers' application to become the league's 14th team, but that that majority "falls just short of the nine votes required" to give Missouri final approval.
According to Solomon's sources, those opposed to Missouri's membership have two points of contention. The first is that the SEC can simply "do better" than the Tigers. The other is that adding a team to the SEC West rather than East would disrupt the league's scheduling and rivalries.
The debate has reportedly led to a split between Auburn and Alabama, with the Crimson Tide opposed to Missouri's application and their in-state rivals in favor. Adding Missouri would almost certainly shift Auburn to the East division, restoring the Tigers' traditional annual rivalries with Tennessee and Florida, but potentially scuttling the Tide's yearly "Third Saturday in October" grudge match with the Volunteers. (With only one annual "cross-division" game on the schedule, Alabama couldn't play both Tennessee and Auburn with both in the East, at least not without a nine-game conference schedule.)
As noted by Solomon, Missouri's application won't be helped by an anonymous official telling the Associated Press Wednesday that the SEC would be the Tigers' second choice after the Big Ten. The public admission that Missouri might look elsewhere if the Big Ten asked them to surely won't sit well with a league that -- surely -- can find other partners that would be 100 percent committed.
So a move that looked like all but certain when the Mizzou Board of Curators voted to explore their options Tuesday now has another clear, visible hurdle in front of it. (At minimum, the SEC's plans for a 13-team 2012 season look that much closer to being set in stone.) The guess here remains that in the end, the allure of Missouri's Kansas City/St. Louis television markets will be too much for Mike Slive and the SEC to ignore (especially with the league angling for a new TV contract), and that the SEC's stability and overflowing coffers will be too much for even the Big Ten-focused Missouri officials to turn down.
But at the very least, Mizzou-to-the-SEC appears to be a deal that isn't done just yet.
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