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Mizzou in the SEC: Rivalry Check

How are the new conference rivalries coming along?

Andy Lyons

There are, in my mind, two primary negative aspects to conference realignment. First, you lose rivalries. I said before that I didn't think I would miss Missouri playing Iowa State or Texas Tech each year, and I didn't, not even in the slightest. But you miss playing Kansas in basketball. You miss playing Nebraska in football. You just do. It was a game you immediately circled when the schedule came out. Right now, Missouri barely has that, if at all. And that's a shame.

Rivalries take time. Twenty years from now, they will have developed just fine. Perhaps Missouri will be playing Kansas again at that point, and perhaps the Tigers will just be overloaded with rivals, in and out of conference. That would be fantastic. But nine months into Missouri's move to the SEC, the growth process has just started. We just planted the seeds, now we have to wait for them to grow.

That said, some are growing more quickly than others. Now that we are through one full football season and one full basketball season, I thought it would be fun to check in on the development of new conference rivalries in the SEC. And to do that, I did what I do: I created an arbitrary scoring system.

For all intents and purposes, rivalries grow from big moments on the court/field and bitter interaction between fans. That's basically the recipe. So let's see how Missouri is doing in those two categories. We'll score moments on a 1-to-10 scale, fans on 1-to-5, and offer up to five bonus points based on previous history or unique circumstances. (I'm not mentioning Texas A&M here, since the Aggies and Tigers have been conference rivals for 16 years already.

Arkansas: 11 points

(Dak Dillon / USA TODAY Sports)

Moments: 2. I think we all knew it wouldn't take long to develop a healthy animosity between Arkansas and Missouri. Mizzou had a bit of a history with the Hogs even before they became conference mates, going back to when Frank Broyles left Columbia for Fayetteville, and continuing through the early-1990s basketball series (and the 120-64 pasting Arkansas handed one of Missouri's best teams ever ... before it actually became one of Missouri's best teams ever), the two Mizzou-Arkansas bowls in the 2000s, Mike Anderson's move, and the bitter Dorial Green-Beckham recruitment. But that will show up in the Intangibles piece below. This year featured what I will call two "moments" worth considering here, the two basketball games. In one, Arkansas ripped off a late comeback that was fueled by what I will call questionable officiating. In the other, Mizzou "welcomed" Anderson back to town and destroyed his Hogs. We still don't know when the football teams will play for the first time, but basketball will fuel this thing just fine.

Fans: 4. Anybody who attended the 2008 Cotton Bowl or followed DGB's recruitment already had a healthy dislike for Arkansas fans. The basketball games gave no reason to think the fanbases will be making nice anytime soon.

Intangibles: 5. The teams' history, combined with, among other things, some open trolling of Mizzou fans by an Arkansas fan writer on Kansas City airwaves, have stoked this rivalry nicely. It was kind of being forced upon us this year -- "THIS IS A RIVALRY WAITING TO HAPPEN. RIVALRY. YEP, IT'S A RIVALRY" -- but there's no doubting that Mizzou-Arkansas holds the rivalry lead after nine months.

Ole Miss: 7 points

(Joshua Lindsey / USA TODAY Sports)

Moments: 4. Thank you, Marshall Henderson. Between three bitter Ole Miss-Mizzou basketball games (two won by the Rebels, along with a Mizzou win that featured a fun tussle) and, perhaps, Andy Bauer's commitment to Ole Miss in football, these two programs have interacted a decent amount considering they didn't play in football last year.

Fans: 2. "Big 12 rejects" (clap, clap, clap clap clap) "Big 12 rejects". Ole Miss fans had perhaps the most baffling chant of the season in the final stages of the Rebels' win over Mizzou in Oxford.

Intangibles: 1. I added a point here, simply because Mizzou and Ole Miss have played relatively recently in football (2006-07) and because a lot of us were very excited to have a reason to visit Oxford and Memphis more frequently. That's not really a rivalry thing, but ... a point nonetheless.

Georgia: 5 points

Moments: 1
. The football game was pretty fun, and considering how long we fixated on this game (considering it was the first SEC game), I'll give it a point here, even if it ended up being a 21-point win for Georgia.

Fans: 3. The "Old Man Football" thing caught fire for a while there, to the point where a) I saw "Grown Man Football" T-shirts in Athens when I was there a couple of weeks later, and b) I met one Georgia fan in Athens (on the way to the South Carolina game), and he warned me that South Carolina played "grown man football." So there you go. And if that's worth two points, we'll add a third for the way some Georgia fans lectured tailgating Mizzou fans for not dressing up enough.

Georgia fans were among the ones least impressed with Mizzou's move to the conference (those less impressed tended to be the ones who live a long, long way away from Columbia), and I think it's probably telling that, at Senator Blutarsky's blog, there hasn't been a Missouri mention in months. It'll take something pretty impressive for us to end up with more than three points in this category.

Intangibles: 1. These teams played a pretty memorable NCAA Tournament game in 2001 and did meet in the Orange Bowl way back when. That's not much, but I'll toss a point in there.

LSU: 4 points

(Stacy Revere / Getty Images)

Moments: 1. The basketball loss at Baton Rouge was pretty annoying.

Fans: 3. Thanks to last year's softball Super Regionals and this past weekend's baseball series, Mizzou fans already have a pretty good idea of what LSU fans are like. And that tends to lead to hatred of LSU fans pretty quickly.

Intangibles: 0. Yeah, not much history here, and who the hell knows when the two teams will play a football game.

South Carolina: 4 points

Moments: 1
. South Carolina's near-upset in basketball earns a point, though Mizzou's destruction of them in South Carolina a month later was almost enough to erase it.

Fans: 1. It really was amazing to see how much South Carolina fans enjoyed not being the new guys anymore when we went to the Mizzou-South Carolina football game.

Intangibles: 2. That Frank Martin followed Mizzou to the SEC is easily worth two points. And I think we all assume that when he gets his talent to the Other Columbia, this rivalry will tick along just fine.

Tennessee: 4 points

(Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

Moments: 3. In terms of competition on the field/court, no potential rivalry has had a more impressive set of results than Mizzou-Tennessee. Their lone football game was a multi-OT game with a big Mizzou comeback, the basketball game in Knoxville was a tight slugfest, and Mizzou even upset Tennessee in women's basketball. They even played a pretty tight baseball series last weekend. There's a load of potential here.

Fans: 1.

(Not sure if this is worth one point or minus-one point.)

Intangibles: 0. These programs had almost no history, and the fanbases had almost never interacted. There is potential here, but it's all potential so far.

Florida: 3 points

(Sam Greenwood / Getty Images)

Moments: 2. Opportunities to win at The Swamp don't come often. I'm pretty sure Mizzou fans will rue that missed opportunity quite a bit moving forward. But between the tight football game in Gainesville and the even tighter basketball game at Mizzou Arena, these schools did have their moments this year. And softball can only help.

Fans: 1. I know some Mizzou fans were a bit annoyed at how Florida fans reacted online following the football and basketball games, but ... that's not a lot to go by.

Intangibles: 0. I thought about giving a point for Mizzou beating Florida in the Gator Bowl in the 1960s, but ... that's not a lot to go by.

Vanderbilt: 3 points

(Bill Carter)

Moments: 1. The "Goodness, If Mizzou's James Franklin Had Only Waited Until the Third Quarter to Get Hurt" game is worth a point.

Fans: 2. Vandy fans chanting "SEC! SEC" after Vandy's football win gets 1.5 points, and Vandy fans lecturing us on Rock M about how the Tigers will have to get more physical to play SEC football after the game gets 0.5.

Intangibles: 0. As with Tennessee, there was almost no history whatsoever, though I guess the basketball home-and-home from a few years ago was pretty fun...

Alabama: 2 points

(Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Moments: 0. I guess the epic thunderstorm that hit Faurot Field during the Mizzou-Bama game last October was indeed a "moment," but it really didn't have anything to do with the game itself, with was a complete destruction. (I could be talked into rewarding a point for the late-game body slam of Russell Hansbrough, though.)

Fans: 0. I think if Mizzou were to ever provide a serious threat on the football field, the bitterness would come out with great voracity. Until then, not so much.

Intangibles: 2. Mizzou and Alabama had an interesting football history heading into Mizzou's move, so I'll give that a couple of points.

Kentucky: 1 point

(Mark Zerof / USA TODAY sports)

Moments: 1. Opportunities to win at Rupp don't come often. I'm pretty sure Mizzou fans will rue that missed opportunity quite a bit moving forward.

Fans: 0. By all accounts, Mizzou and Kentucky fans got along pretty well at Rupp and at Faurot (and there were far more Kentucky football fans at that game than anybody anticipated). It was all cordial. Too cordial, especially considering how much other SEC schools seem to hate UK basketball fans.

Intangibles: 0. I got nothing here.

Auburn: 1 point

Moments: 0
. Auburn stunk at basketball, and who the hell knows when these two teams will play in football?

Fans: 1. The presence of SEC Supremacist during Mizzou's announced SEC move is worth a point, even if it's a friendly point.

Intangibles: 0. I got nothing here.

Mississippi State: 0 points

(Spruce Durden / USA TODAY sports)

Moments: 0. Mississippi State really stunk at basketball, and who the hell knows when these two teams will play in football?

Fans: 0. I enjoyed the contributions our friends at For Whom The Cowbell Tolls made during MSU Week last summer, but ... that's probably not enough, huh?

Intangibles: 0. I got nothing here.