MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA™ 2011: Any ... Minute ... Now...

Photo via Bill Carter.

It's Coming

Whether it happens today or not, it does appear that, barring some last-second, Lucy-and-Charlie-Brown development (which, as we all know, isn't impossible), Mizzou will soon be a) conditionally withdrawing from the Big 12, b) applying for SEC membership, c) getting accepted and d) officially withdrawing from the Big 12. We can debate whether it should happen, or what will happen when it does. We can bring up "SOURCES!!!!" again. We can discuss what it will take for Mizzou to get into the conference by next year. But at this point it would be rather shocking if Missouri wasn't in the SEC in at least 2013-14.

Never mind status, money, success, or whatever else. On a purely conceptual level, this is the boldest, biggest move Missouri will have made since they joined Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska in breaking away from the Missouri Valley to form the Big 6 in the 1920s. It will result in the dissolution of a set of hundred-year rivalries and the from-scratch building of new ones. It will be exciting in some ways and off-putting in others; some effects will be immediate, some extremely slow to develop. It is a move with plenty of drawbacks and pratfalls, but a group of pragmatic, smart Missouri officials have sent Mizzou on this path, and they have evidently gauged it in Mizzou's best overall interests. That's all that matters at this point.

Links:

Birmingham News: Missouri speeds up path to SEC East

Missouri will have at least the necessary nine presidential votes to be admitted into the SEC provided there are no legal or financial entanglements for the SEC and Missouri plays in the Eastern division, two sources familiar with the SEC's discussions told The Birmingham News. That would settle concerns by Alabama and Tennessee that they could lose their annual rivalry game. [...]

My concerns about Missouri fitting in the SEC are well-documented. But from Missouri's perspective, this is a move it needs to make in today's climate.

Let's see, stay in the Big 12 and cross your fingers Texas and Oklahoma won't leave in a couple years, or head for the stability of the SEC? It's wiser to gamble on competing in the SEC and confidently knowing the piles of postseason football cash will always be there.

Missouri's board also directed Deaton to attempt to set up a holiday basketball tournament and an annual football game in Kansas City. That addresses political concerns Kansas City would lose major Big 12 events, including the 119-year-old Kansas-Missouri football game that has been in Kansas City since 2007.

The Trib (Dave Matter): Report: Missouri has enough SEC votes
The Trib (Dave Matter): Missouri seems bound for SEC Eastern Division
The Trib: Head, heart at odds over MU decision
The Trib: MU seems ready for something different
The Trib: Don’t bring realignment between the sheets
The Missourian: COMMENT: Realignment Q&A — Tackling the next step for Missouri and the SEC
KC Star (Campus Corner): At this point, is it news that MU looks headed for SEC?
Post-Dispatch: It's 'when,' not 'if' for MU move to SEC
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: One step closer
KBIA Sports Extra: Fear not the SEC, Mizzou can handle it
Team Speed Kills: SEC Expansion: Missouri Board of Curators Calls Conservative Running Play
Dr. Saturday: Another week, another official step in Missouri’s journey to the SEC

Then What Happens?

I do feel for Big East fans at this point. Not only do they have to live life in a conference that has become incredibly unstable in recent weeks (when, not too long ago, they thought they were in an advantageous position), but they have also had to sit back and wait for Missouri's decision. Missouri! Not even Oklahoma or Texas.

Regardless, it does appear that the Big 12 will be in a solid position to make additions down the line, though as noted in the links below, the most interesting part comes because of the Big East's 27-month exit waiting period. Even if Missouri were to hold off on leaving until 2013-14, the Big 12 would still have to wait another year after that to add anybody from the Big East roster. They get TCU immediately, but if Missouri leaves, then the only way they get back to 10 teams within two years is if they add BYU, with whom they have had more on-again, off-again flirtations in the last month (and two decades) than Ross and Rachel on Friends. (Why yes, I am a child of the 1990s; why do you ask?)

Regardless of whatever awkwardness exists in terms of the timeline, the Big 12 could be in line to add either West Virginia (which, if you read the huffy AAS article below, is better than Missouri in anything, ever, anyway, and they always will be), Louisville or both ... and once again, Chip Brown floats the idea that Notre Dame is still in play, at the very least for non-football sports. Clearly this doesn't matter a lot to Mizzou at this point, but it's still going to be something fascinating to watch. As Frank The Tank mentioned a while back, this process has shown us that a conference's status is a conference's status, and one really can't leapfrog another one. Even with all the ridiculous instability and movement, the Big 12 is still ahead of the Big East in the pecking order, and that apparently won't change until or unless the Big 12 falls apart.

Links:

SB Nation Dallas: Big 12 Realignment: Missouri's Move Could Cause Domino Effect
KC Star (Campus Corner): Big East withdrawal notice could complicate replacing MU
Daily Oklahoman: Conference realignment creating scheduling headaches for OU football
Austin American-Statesman: West Virginia top Big 12 candidate
SB Nation: Big 12 Expansion: Notre Dame Considering Big East Exit, According To Report

In a move that could cripple the Big East even further, Notre Dame is reportedly mulling whether to pull out of the conference amid the growing chaos. Notre Dame's football team remains independent, but the rest of its sports have been housed in the Big East. But with the future of the conference unclear -- multiple teams have left and the football side is in shambles -- the Fighting Irish could be set to bolt.

The report comes from Chip Brown, who floats the Big 12 as a possible landing spot.

Sources tell Orangebloods.com Notre Dame will decide in 60 days if it will move non-fball sports out of Big East (possibly to Big 12).

Of course, the big prize has always been the Irish's football team, but this may be another situation where Notre Dame stashes its non-football sports in a conference and stays independence. Or Notre Dame may decide to stay put and hope the Big East stays afloat amid the shifting conference landscape. As with everything in conference expansion, what happens next is a bit unclear.

 

KU

The oddest part of this whole realignment drama is closing my eyes and trying to envision what Missouri fans will think of the Kansas rivalry in 25 years if this move does indeed go down and the two schools indeed stop playing each other annually. I continue to hope this works out (and in future what-if posts that will emerge if/once this becomes official, Kansas will be a mainstay), but if it doesn't, there will be quite a bit of wasteful pointing of fingers. (And really, can you blame either side? Can you blame Missouri for leaving like Kansas and others wish they could? Can you blame Kansas for taking a 'principled stand' against the team that just 'abandoned' them? Call it a casualty of this whole, ridiculous process.)

That's not what interests me, though. This rivalry has been going on for, basically, 150 years ... and what happens next? Do MU and KU play in football a few times a decade like Mizzou-Illinois? Never again? And how do future Mizzou students/fans, currently young or unborn, view KU? Will they hate Arkansas like previous generations hated KU?

Links:

KC Star (Campus Corner): KU response: Border War unlikely to continue if Missouri leaves Big 12

“KU-Missouri is a great rivalry,” Zenger said in a statement. “The University of Kansas is a great Midwestern school, loyal to our Midwestern conference and to our Midwestern roots. The KU-Missouri rivalry belongs in the Big 12 Conference. Should Missouri decide to leave the Big 12, we would wish them well.”

The Trib: KU's Self would have no interest in scheduling MU if Tigers defect

 

Kansas City

I do like the moves the Curators attempted to make last week as a gesture of peace to the Kansas City area. I don't know if they're realistic, of course. If Kansas refuses, does Mizzou try to set up a KC series with Kansas State? Nebraska? Iowa State? And who hosts invitational basketball tournaments anymore? Lots of questions remain to be answered, but putting forth the effort is important. It's all they can do in this current arrangement.

Links:

KC Star: Missouri tries to soothe KU and Kansas City

WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE??

I just wanted to use this as an excuse to mention how happy it makes me that SBN has an America East blog now. Next up: Patriot League. Then SWAC.

Links:

Unranked America East: Conference Expansion...is the AE vulnerable?

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