Across the last few years, Missouri fans have experienced a small crisis of identity having to do with the move to the SEC.
That isn’t to say the move was a negative thing — in fact, there are very few who would ever say Missouri made the wrong move. Conference realignment, however, does come with some existential upheaval: Who is Missouri? What is Missouri doing here? What is Missouri’s purpose?
In the end, Missouri be better off in the SEC, but now it needs to start developing stories that the next generation of Tiger fans can learn and then pass on to the next-next generation of Tiger fans. The Tigers had that in the Big 12 because, like all good stories, the Tigers had plenty of villains.
Kansas. Nebraska. Oklahoma. Texas. Kansas State. Oklahoma State. Baylor. Almost every Big 12 school from Missouri’s time drudges up memories across the spectrum of Tiger fandom. Sure, you wouldn’t call many of these schools, “rivals,” but all played a very specific role in recent Mizzou lore. Fans had specific reasons to dislike all of these schools. Like it or not, that same sort of storied history doesn’t exist with Missouri and the SEC. At least, not yet.
In the six full years since Missouri moved south (metaphorically), the first wave of these stories has started to develop: the Connor Shaw fourth-quarter comeback and Andrew Baggett hitting the uprights; a losing streak to Kentucky football; unlikely dominance of Florida at The Swamp; multiple run-ins for the women’s basketball program. They aren’t quite Big 12 level, but they’re building blocks.
All that being said — for our weekly poll, we wanted to ask you, the fans who will pass these stories on, about which schools you see becoming the new villains in Missouri’s ongoing SEC story. And while we realize that nobody will ever rise to the level of that one school just to the west, Missouri is starting to develop some animosity with a few other schools.
#POLL! Since joining the SEC, Missouri has been searching for new rival schools. Barry Odom has recently called out UT for player poaching and women’s basketball has drawn the ire of other fanbases. Who would you say is Missouri’s biggest SEC rival at the moment?— ROCK M NATION (@RockMNation) February 19, 2019
Not to do too much shop talk here, but this is a major amount of engagement. We may have people in our mentions telling us, “NoBoDy, Go bAcK tO tHe BiG,” but it’s very clear that Missouri fans have #feelings about their SEC colleagues.
Let’s get to the responses to find out why people hate who they hate.
It’s gotta be South Carolina. Memorable football games, Frank Martin, and of course, women’s hoops almost went thermonuclear war.— For Old Missouri (@ForOldMissouri) February 19, 2019
This was, in this writer’s humble opinion, the favorite going into the poll. There are probably more storied moments in the Tigers’ brief history with South Carolina — the aforementioned Connor Shaw game, this year’s monsoon, Jim Sterk vs. Dawn Staley — but it should be noted there’s an inter-division thing happening here, as well as the friendly, “Columbia vs. Columbia,” angle.
Surprisingly, though, South Carolina finished at a distant third. The animosity doesn’t exist at this point, which probably points to more of a friendly rivalry than anything else.
There's no other answer than Arkansas here, if only for the fact that the schools/conference have created a "rivalry" football game on Black Friday & the Mike Anderson wound is still there. No other SEC school would have Mizzou in its Top 5.— Jaryd Wilson (@JarydWilson) February 19, 2019
Jaryd is right in that Arkansas makes the most sense on paper. The “Battle Line Rivalry” doesn’t stoke a lot of emotion amongst the fans (especially in Arkansas), but the players seem to dig in a little more. After all, there’s a big trophy on the line.
I don’t know that the Mike Anderson wound is still that much of a factor, but there certainly is a segment of the fanbase that will never forgive, “Suitcase Mike.” Still, if there was a favorite, Arkansas would probably be a close second to South Carolina.
Alas, it finished a distant second to this poll’s — somewhat surprising? — winner...
Tennessee fans seem to have some sort of chip on their shoulder about MU. It’s pretty evident on Twitter/FB/Reddit. The actions you mentioned above and I guess the fact that we are both in the East, and the states touch is why I voted for Tennessee— Jake Edwards (@JakeyJake66) February 19, 2019
You’d never get them to admit it, but Jake is right... there does seem to be something about Missouri that rubs Tennessee fans the wrong way. There’s a, “the lady doth protest too much,” quality every time one of them insists they don’t care about Mizzou. If you scroll through our mentions, you’ll also see quite a few fans comparing Tennessee to Kansas.
To get personal here: I say that Tennessee was the, “surprising winner,” but I did vote for them. Something about the school — maybe the gaudy orange, maybe the loud, in-your-face fans — makes me want to beat them more than anyone else. It mostly has to do with football, and that’s likely because Tennessee is often considered above Missouri when it comes to the SEC East hierarchy. This, despite Missouri holding a 5-2 head-to-head advantage and holding a superior overall record (52-38 vs. 44-43), since Missouri’s move to the SEC.
As a whole, there seems to be more animosity that exists between Missouri and Tennessee fans, overall. And if there’s anything that constitutes a rival, it’s the blind hatred of another institution.
The NCAA itself #FREEMIZZOU— Ty McBride (@tylermcbride99) February 19, 2019
Speaking of institutions that are hated!
This debate is by no means settled! We want to hear from y’all, the loyal Rock M readers. Who do you think is Missouri’s biggest SEC rival right now?
Who do you think is Missouri’s biggest SEC rival (at the moment)?
This poll is closed