With all the ongoing discussion regarding a possible swith by Mizzou from the Big XII to the Big 10 (11?) I thought it might be interesting to see how this would affect Mizzou fans' travelling times to away games.
First glance shows it gives fans in St. Louis much better opportunity, Columbia fans would drive a little farther than now, and Kansas City fans would have much farther to drive.
Just for the sake of consideration, I have put Mizzou in a six-team division with Iowa (192 miles from Columbia), Illinois (230), Purdue (305), Indiana (311) and Northwestern (323). Currently, Columbia fans are driving about an hour less for intra-divisional games (with the exception of Colorado, which is a 694-mile trip). Kansas (158), Iowa State (224), Kansas State (230) and Nebraska (265) are all closer than the corresponding Big 10 teams.
Figuring 120 miles from Columbia to Kansas City, and 110 miles to St. Louis, the fans on the east side of the state will actually lose an hour of travel for these games, while the fans on the west side of the state would have to travel about three hours longer.
The advantage changes when considering inter-divisional games, however, with the exception of Penn State (776 miles). Of course, if the super expansion were to take place, Syracuse and Rutgers would be totally out of the picture. Currently, away games against South Division opponents require travelling to Oklahoma State (325), Oklahoma (380), Baylor (579), A&M (621), Texas Tech (649) and Texas (667). The remaining six Big 10 teams, with the noted exception of Penn State, could save Columbia fans up to two hours per trip while driving to Wisconsin (323), Minnesota (420), Michigan State (486), Ohio State (502) and Michigan (505).
This would make for some very fun trips - especially for St. Louis fans - to play some quality schools.
While weather might at first glance seem to favor staying in the Big XII, my experience in travelling these states is that the midwestern states do a much better job of keeping their roads cleared during the snow season than the Great Plains states of the Big XII - which also have much greater threat of tornadoes and dangerous road conditions caused by intense rain and flooding.
Ticket availability for visiting schools should be greater simply because the Big 10 schools have much larger facilities. There are only four Big XII schools with a seating capacity greater than 61,000 for football, and only three with a capacity greater than 15,000 in basketball - excluding Mizzou. Eight of the eleven Big 10 schools surpass 61,000 in football capacity, and seven surpass 15,000 for basketball.
As for rivalries, everyone has their preference. I can't see Kansas passing up the bucks to play Mizzou every year in the major sports. Personally, I would much rather have a chance to play Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State or Penn State each year as a trade-off for Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
Would such a change affect fan participation? I don't think so. Mizzou has a dedicated following in all parts of the state, but I believe there is more fan intensity in the St. Louis and southeastern part of the state than in Kansas City and the southwestern. Residents in the northern part of the state gain a travelling advantage in addition to the St. Louis area.
Since any change would take at least a couple of years, if not more, we may well see the Big 10 picking up national contending teams in both football and basketball, in addition to the many other sports Tiger athletes are now excelling in. This is just a win-win situation for the institution and the new conference monetarily, and further identifies Missouri with the Midwest rather than the Plains States.