Posted on: September 27, 2011 11:57 am
With the Big 12's future still uncertain, and the SEC needing a 14th member, is Missouri the most logical choice to join the SEC? I've talked about conference realignment a lot, and I would prefer Mizzou to head to the Big 10 over the SEC. It is mostly a personal preference due to geographical ties to the Big 10, and the potential rivarlies that the Big 10 brings excites me more than the SEC rivarlies. I would love to see an annual football game with Iowa and Illinois every year, and even a Northwestern game would be fun. Missouri has played Northwestern and Iowa in recent years in bowl games, and both games were exciting to watch. As a fan, it would be cool see these games every year. Unfortunately, the Big 10 is focus on tv markets only by looking at ND and NJ Rutgers. The ND pickup makes sense, but going after NJ Rutgers is just stupid. I understand the Big 10 wanting to penetrate the NYC tv market, but that market is so diverse with teams that the Rutgers is a small percentage of overall sports market. Considering the Rutgers aren't a traditional football powerhouse, or consistent enough in recent years to be a BCS contender, their football fan support is sporadic. If the Rutgers are added to the Big 10, I wouldn't be surprised their TV share and money they bring will be dissapointing considering they are a NYC area team. If you don't believe me, then look at the Islanders. They show that not every team in the NYC area brings in money.
Since the Big 10 is most likely going to look elsewhere if they expand, then Mizzou has two options: Stay in the Big 12 (-3), or head to the SEC while that 14th spot is still open. As things look today, it seems like a better idea to jump ship. To be fair, the Big 12 has a few advantages over the SEC in regards to Mizzou. The first big reason will be the clout Mizzou has build up in the Big 12. In the last few years, Mizzou has become arespectable program in the conference. For years they were a laughing stock, but Pinkel has built up this team to be competitive each year. Mizzou has been to a bowl game every year since 2005. In addition to being a bowl caliber team, Mizzou has become a top 25 caliber team. Granted, Mizzou in 2007 was probably the only team to be considered a championship caliber team, but being a top 25 caliber team with 8 or 9 wins a season in the last few years is impressive. The downside of moving to the SEC is the competition will be tougher for Mizzou, and they will most likely be a mid-level team in the SEC right now. Otherwise, the only other benefits is tradition with the Big 12. The Big 12 was basically an expansion of the Big 8 with the addition of the Texas schools from the SWC, and the old rivarlies with Kansas, Kansas State, and even OU in the last couple of years ago will just be history. Since the Big 12 is very unstable right now, Mizzou has to look out for their best interests.
While the SEC might not be perfect for Mizzou, it is at least stable unlike the Big 12, and can provide some good benefits in the long run. The biggest benefit will be exposure. The Big 12 is awful when it comes to their TV contracts. Mizzou was on pay per view a couple of weeks ago, and I know Western Illinois isn't a TV draw, but compare that to the SEC. I can't think of a team in the SEC who is on pay per view. Even Vanderbilt gets more ESPN apperances than Mizzou does in a given year. The SEC tv package is amazing with just about every one of their teams are shown on national tv throughout the year on CBS, ABC, and ESPN. If you look up the SEC tv contract, none of their teams are on pay per view. At worst, they are avaliable on ESPN3 which is widely avalialbe on most internet providers. And to be honest, as a fan of a top 25 caliber team in a BCS conference shouldn't pay 50 bucks to watch my team. That failure falls on the Big 12 as their only chance to have their own network, like the Big 10 network, became the Longhorn Network due to the incompetence of Dan Beebe. Furthermore, that exposure will bring in more money and help Mizzou's recruiting efforts. Hopefully in the long run with the additional exposure will bring in better players and build a stronger team. In addition of the tv contract the SEC has, they have the best bowl tie ins. They have tie ins with 4 New Years caliber bowls: The Outback, The Gator Bowl, The Capital One Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl. I say New Years caliber bowls as these 4 bowl games are traditionally on, or around New Years Day, and feature good teams. Unfortunately, Bowl games nowadays have tarnish the tradition with New Years by pushing crap like the GoDaddy.com bowl. That is a different argument entirely, so lets get back to bowl tie ins. In comparison to the Big 12 who has only two New Years Bowl games: The Fiesta Bowl, and the Cotton Bowl. The third best game for the Big 12 is the Holliday Bowl, and that is usually a good game, but doesn't bring the excitness or exposure like the SEC New Years bowls. As a football fan, I would be excited to see Mizzou in better bowl games.
The SEC may not be the perfect fit for Mizzou, but it is evident it'll be a lot better than the Big 12 right now. Mizzou might struggle early on in the SEC, but if Pinkel could build a good football team from nothing in the Big 12, then he can do it again. This is just my take on benefits and cons with Mizzou joining the SEC, and it is evident that joining the SEC will be the best choice for Mizzou. I hope the board of curators at Mizzou figure out what is best for Mizzou as they start meeting in the near future.