Yes, this is who you think it is.
We've got quite a bit lined up for today. Yesterday's events caused a bit of a backlog, so as Monday unfolds, you'll get your Links and Reflections piece, you'll get your BlogPoll, you'll get your non-EXPANSIONAPALOOZA™ 2011 links. But we start today, of course, with the biggest story of the bunch.
A few thoughts from yesterday's celebration...
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive Is Both Goofy And Terrifying. The funniest moment of the evening to me (other than where Mike Alden accidentally said "Missouri" at one point, then corrected himself to say "Missourah") was when Slive took the podium to applause, said some throwaway "How are we doing?" type of line, and got no response whatsoever from a crowd that had been raucous and applauding everything moments earlier. Everybody in the building was terrified of Slive. A few minutes later, he had everybody eating out of his hand. Imagine if your goofy grandfather just happened to be the head of the Corlione family; that's Slive. He happens to be, for all intents and purposes, the most powerful individual in college sports, and you can tell he is an absolutely masterful politician, but he's also just a quirky old man who makes hokey jokes and forgets to pull the mic at the podium down toward his face. I'm going to enjoy him.
I've Never Seen Brady Deaton That Excited. A man who has been known to be, publicly, a bit robotic at times, was downright giddy, and his reasons for such revealed that Missouri's motivations for the move did simply go beyond money or stability. There are a lot of excellent universities in the Big 12 -- obviously -- but one very much got the impression that the opportunity for new collaborations, for extended relationships with Vanderbilt, Florida and other schools, had the academic in Deaton excited. If Mizzou can maintain the collaborative relationships that previously existed and develop new ones with specific, excellent schools? Win-win.
Mizzou Will Be In The SEC East. But we already knew that was going to be the case. This makes me happy (and not just because the East is currently worse than the West at football). It really is important to have as many doable road trips as possible on the schedule; Gainesville might be rough, and Athens and The Other Columbia won't exactly be a day trip, but having Lexington, Knoxville and Nashville on regular rotation will be lovely. And while I can see the recruiting benefit to tagging Texas A&M as the inter-divisional rival, I might still prefer Arkansas, just to add a fourth rival from a border state. No matter which way you slice the divisions, you aren't going to get easy (or at least semi-easy) road trips to places like Lawrence, Ames or Manhattan, and that is a shame. But there will be some reasonably easy trips on the schedule. And besides, it's not like Lubbock, Waco or Austin were easy trips either.
Timing Is Everything. We have spoken recently about the geographic luck Mizzou has experienced recently. If you flip the states of Missouri and Kansas, Mizzou's conference options are limited. But with two metro areas and a connection to some southeastern states, Mizzou indeed had options. Beyond that, however, is the issue of timing. Quite simply, if this saga had played out a decade ago, it is very, very difficult for me to believe Missouri is treated as a viable option for such a strong conference as the SEC. Granted, I could be incorrect about this -- in the seven years before their first season in the SEC, South Carolina won more than six games in a season just once -- but without the progress of the last 10-13 years (i.e. the progress of the Mike Alden era), Mizzou might not make this move. That the program has experienced such growth and improvement, both in terms of the quality of the product and the facilities, helped Mizzou's cause immensely, and we should both be thankful for this growth and humble about the luck involved in this move.
You Could Hear The Buzz In The Room When Mike Slive Talked About Both Equality And The Fact That Nobody Leaves The SEC. For what it is worth, I think the Big 12 will survive, at least for another 5-10 years. I am, after all, the one trying to get people to come to grips with the thought of returning to the Big 12 a month ago if the SEC thing didn't work out. There were worse fates in the world than maintaining rivalries and hoping for the best. BUT ... from the moment I arrived on the Mizzou campus in 1997, Mizzou fans have chafed at the way that the Big 12 has never been -- and will never be -- truly equal. No matter how good Mizzou was (or wasn't) in a given sport, they were not treated as a heavyweight, and they were not treated as perfectly equal members. Missourians are very, very proud -- often to their detriment -- and I really do believe that Mizzou can be a great team player in a conference like the SEC. Just treat them as equals and don't try to push them around, and you'll get along great. Mike Slive talked a couple of times about how easy it is to leave the SEC, how, if you don't enjoy it there, you are free to leave. But nobody has left since Bobby Dodd removed Georgia Tech from the equation in the 1960s. Compare that to a Big 12 that has now lost one-third of its membership, to a conference that has annoyed (however slightly) half of its members from the day it was formed. There are plenty of powerful drawbacks to the thought of leaving the Big 12, but this is not one of them.
Is this move about money? Yes, in part. Is this move about "stability"? Absolutely. But it is also about being a part of a true, collaborative, family. Mizzou developed a lot of strong relationships in the Big 12, but there are even more to be found in the SEC; combine that with the heritage and athletic history of the league, and the move truly was a no-brainer. I'm not the biggest "Mizzou had to jump from this god-awful, sinking ship" guy out there, but even though I didn't (and don't) think the Big 12 was guaranteed to fail down the line (make no mistake, it might ... it just isn't guaranteed), nicer neighborhoods are nicer neighborhoods. And we just found one. Will we grow to hate most fanbases in the SEC? Of course! This is, in the end, still about sports, after all. But let's just say that if the Big Ten ever expands again, I highly doubt there will be too many unhappy Mizzou fans dying to make another move. This was a 100-year decision, and Brady Deaton very much made the right call.
Anyway, links and photos after the jump. And yes, a) the photos came from me (and not the other Bill C.), and b) on our new camera, it is difficult to entirely see whether things are in focus or not. I'm a rookie at this.
MUtigers.com: Welcome To The SEC
MUtigers.com: University of Missouri to Join Southeastern Conference
MUtigers.com: Mizzou-SEC Press Conference Quotes
We Are Mizzou: University of Missouri To Join Southeastern Conference
The Trib: It's official: SEC welcomes Missouri
The Trib (Steve Walentik): Tigers vs. the SEC
The Missourian: Missouri to join SEC
The Missourian: MU Chancellor Deaton celebrates Missouri's 'historic' move to SEC
The Missourian: At Student Center, cheers of 'MIZ-ZOU' for Missouri's move to the SEC (actually, they weren't saying "ZOU")
The Missourian: Columbia residents speak out about Missouri joining SEC
The Missourian: GUIDE: Coverage, commentary about Missouri's move to the SEC
KC Star: SEC announces MU as new member
KC Star: How the SEC move affects Missouri
KC Star: Behind Mizzou's big sports move is agriculture economics expert
KC Star: Missouri pulls up Midwestern sports roots for SEC stability
KC Star: ABCs of the SEC
KC Star: Former Blue Springs coach: Area kids will continue to play at MU
KC Star: Many Mizzou fans rally behind SEC move
Post-Dispatch: It's official: Mizzou to SEC
Post-Dispatch: MU says move to SEC is about 'stability'
Post-Dispatch: MU courtship with SEC ends in marriage
PowerMizzou: A long time coming
PowerMizzou: A New Frontier
PowerMizzou: Where they've been, where they're going
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Warm Welcome
KBIA Sports Extra: At long last, an official announcement: Mizzou to join SEC in 2012
KBIA Sports Extra: Standing room only for enthusiastic fans welcoming Mizzou to SEC
Fox Sports MW: Mizzou becomes 14th member of the SEC (self-share, if you can find it)
Team Speed Kills: Missouri to SEC Press Conference: Go East, Young Man
Team Speed Kills: Missouri Joins SEC as Conference's 14th Member
SimmonsField.com: Southern Exposure: Getting to know the SEC
Dr. Saturday: Ready or not, Missouri (officially) makes 14 for the SEC
SI.com (Andy Staples): Missouri move from Big 12 to SEC about money, no conference titles
Big 12 Hoops: Official: Mizzou To Join SEC
Daily Oklahoman: Missouri to SEC is done deal
College Football Talk: Mizzou introduced as 14th member of SEC
College Football Talk: Big 12 commish: Mizzou's departure 'disappointing...a mistake'
The Missourian Does Something Pretty Cool
The Missourian: MAP: Distance from Columbia to SEC, Big 12 schools
The Missourian: MAP: The Big 12, SEC and TV markets
The Missourian: GRAPHIC: How SEC football, basketball teams compare to Big 12 schools
The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: A look back at Missouri in the Big 12
Rock Chalk Talk: Kansas-Missouri Border War Becomes the Latest Victim of Conference Realignment
The Trib: Missouri hopes to continue Border War
The Missourian: Kansas laments end to conference rivalry with Missouri
KC Star (Campus Corner): With Missouri headed to SEC, Kansas already moving on
KC Star: Those who made their names in Border War lament rivalry's impending end
College Football Talk: Kansas sulks as Mizzou says 'adios' to Big 12
Lawrence Journal-World: Bad move, Mizzou
Lawrence Journal-World: KU's Self not fretting over Missouri's decision to leave Big 12 for SEC