Missouri began play in the Big 6 in 1928, with five conference mates they knew very well: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Over the next 83 years, they would get to know six new conference rivals: Colorado in 1948, Oklahoma State in 1960, and four teams in 1996: Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
Next year, they will introduce themselves to 12 new rivals.
Never mind the degree to which Mizzou may succeed in their new home (we'll discuss that soon enough), and never mind the reasons behind such a move (we already have discussed it, and I'm sure we will again). This is, quite simply, the most significant move Missouri has made in, basically, a century of athletics. It changes everything we thought we knew about the future of Missouri athletics, and it changes how we look at the present. But for those most concerned or in objection of such a move, here's something it doesn't change: the past.
Paul Christman still torched Nebraska in 1939.
Norris Stevenson's long runs still carried Mizzou to victory over Oklahoma (and a No. 1 ranking) in 1960.
Joe Moore, Mel Gray and company still ran all over the Big 8 in 1969.
Mizzou still beat Nebraska in 1978, and it was still one of the greatest games ever played.
Mizzou and Kansas State still played some crazy, intense basketball games in the 1980s.
Mizzou still went undefeated in the Big 8 in 1994.
Mizzou still beat Oklahoma State in double overtime in 1997, and in triple overtime in 2001.
Devin West and Ernest Blackwell still out-dueled Ricky Williams and Texas at Faurot Field in 1997.
Mizzou still beat Iowa State in four overtimes at the Hearnes Center in 2001.
Brad Smith still rushed for ~600 yards versus Texas Tech in 2003.
Jeff Wolfert still bombed in the game-winning field goal in Waco in 2008.
Mizzou still won this game.
And this one.
And this one.
None of this changes. It all still happened, and it is all still part of a fun, interesting (and, yes, often miserable) history. Everything that has made us Mizzou fans remains the same; it is all just moving into a new neighborhood.
When the football (and basketball, and baseball, and softball, etc.) schedule comes out next year, there will be a lot of new, intriguing names on it. Odds are good that we will not notice, at first, that teams like Kansas State and Iowa State -- teams that have been a part of Missouri's schedules for a century now -- are not a part of it. We will be distracted by shiny, new names like Tennessee and Georgia. Similarly, KSU and ISU fans will be spending a lot more time getting to know TCU and West Virginia than mourning the loss of Missouri.
History is amazing; it is what makes college sports so riveting. Traditions and memories are inherent in how and why you became a fan. But those memories are memories more because of your school than because of the opponent. Missouri now sets about creating new rivalries with schools that have rather significant histories themselves. They will get to know us, we will get to know them, and after a few years, a new set of memories will have formed. Mizzou will look forward to playing Team A because of what happened in 2013, and they will really want revenge on Team B for how they lost in 2015. Rivalries will grow, and the intensity with which we have always followed Missouri athletics will not change.
Conference realignment, and the instability it has brought with it, are changing the landscape of college sports. We can mourn the role money has played in these developments, and we can take heat for our own role. But change has come. It is a brand new day for Missouri athletics, and I couldn't be more excited, anxious and ready. We say goodbye to old friends, we introduce ourselves to new ones, and we cheer on Missouri like we always have.