Ready for more conference realignment?
After all, it’s only been a few weeks since Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced they were going to the ACC.
With Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 and heading to the SEC in July 2012, what remains of the Big 12 appeared to be on the verge of collapse as recently as last week. But the remaining schools got together and announced a revenue-sharing deal from television money – if members agreed to lock top-tier rights into the conference for six years. That news seemed to indicate that the Big 12 could be saved.
Then came the announcement from Missouri on Tuesday evening that the governing board’s members had given chancellor Brady Deaton authority to explore the school’s conference affiliation.
“What brings us here tonight is that the Big 12 conference is now requesting its members to make binding, long-term and irrevocable commitments to the conference,” interim president Steve Owens, who is in charge of Missouri’s entire campus system, said in a statement. “We don’t fault the Big 12 for requesting this of us and the other conference members. It is something it should be doing to promote stability. But, because we are currently faced with making a long-term commitment to the Big 12, now is the time to explore our options to fully understand where we are, before we lock into a long-term commitment with the Big 12.”
Translation: Missouri isn’t feeling very good about the Big 12’s future and wants to determine whether it can get into a better conference.
There has been plenty of speculation about Missouri joining the SEC and becoming the conference’s 14th school. Whether or not that eventually happens is debatable.
So let’s explore Missouri’s options.
Advantages: The SEC is the best football conference in the land. Missouri would make plenty of money with the SEC television deals. The SEC is a very stable conference.
Disadvantages: The level of football competition goes up a very big notch in the SEC. Missouri isn’t a great geographic fit in the SEC, which would raise questions about fans traveling to new and farther locations for road games.
Advantages: Missouri is a great geographic fit in the Big Ten. Missouri would be able to keep its football rivalry with Illinois and re-ignite its rivalry with former conference foe Nebraska. Missouri would make plenty of money with the Big Ten Network. The Big Ten is a very stable conference. Plus, Missouri could compete for a conference football title quicker in the Big Ten than the SEC.
Disadvantages: When the Big Ten decided to expand, Nebraska – not Missouri – was the selection. Does the Big Ten even want Missouri?
Advantages: Missouri has a history and tradition in the Big 12. Key rivalries, including the huge game with Kansas, would be preserved. Missouri remains a conference contender in football on a yearly basis.
Disadvantages: The Big 12 is very unstable. Even with a six-year revenue-sharing deal on the table, what happens after that? If Missouri stays and another school decides to leave, the conference could crumble and leave Missouri without a spot in one of the other major conferences.