Oklahoma and Texas are, without a doubt, the two most esteemed programs to ever play in the Big 12 conference. Combined, the two schools have won 11 of the 19 possible Big 12 Championships, are the only Big 12 schools that can claim a national title since 1950, and have historically dominated the recruiting pool of Texas and the Midwest. If the thinking is that they have nothing left to prove in the Big 12, they certainly have a valid argument.
Recent news revealed that Oklahoma and Texas have inquired about joining the SEC as members, following suit after what Texas A&M and Missouri did in 2012. A majority vote in favor from the current members of the SEC would need to take place, and the resistance from both the public and other sources (the Big 12, other members of the conference, Longhorn Network, etc.) will be strong.
As it stands, nothing is certain yet. This is still a hypothetical scenario that has just gained some traction. Still, it is perhaps necessary for Mizzou to examine the impact that this move would have on the future of the football program.
For starters, there is one glaring problem that will arise: recruiting. Missouri has had the luxury of being able to say “Well, we play in the best conference in the nation,” when talking to recruits who are considering Texas and/or Oklahoma. That advantage in national exposure, coaching and NFL attention is a very strong recruiting pull. That is no longer a talking point for the Tigers.
While Eli Drinkwitz has not dipped into the state of Texas often in recruiting yet (two Texas products in both 2020 and 2021 classes), it will become an increasing region of focus. The state of Texas is one of the richest recruiting grounds in the country, and many SEC schools such as Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and many more find their star athletes there.
However, with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, the Lone Star well would be a lot drier. The Longhorns and Sooners would become immediate powers in the state, having the close proximity and national prominence to be able to keep more kids closer to home. It would take a very strong pitch from Drinkwitz and his staff to pull many high-caliber prospects away from the area, as it is already very difficult to reach into the region.
On top of all that, there is the issue of climbing the ranks in the SEC. Missouri got a taste of life at the top of the nation’s strongest conference in the early 2010s, but they quickly plummeted into mediocrity. After gaining some national headlines last season and returning so many key pieces, many see Mizzou as a rising program in the conference.
But then, the addition of Texas and Oklahoma would just bump the Tigers back down two pegs. It will be tough for Missouri to keep pace with Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC, and they would likely have to fight even harder just to tread at their current level of success (roughly .500 record each season).
Silver linings do exist. For starters, who in the state of Missouri would be against playing old conference rivals Oklahoma and Texas every year again? While Oklahoma and Texas both dominate the Tigers in their series (67-24-5 and 18-6 respectively), there have been a plethora of classic games between the sides. Think back to the 2011 upset of #16 Texas in Columbia, the epic Landry Jones vs. Blaine Gabbert duel of 2010, or the back-to-back Big 12 Championship matchups in 2007-2008. Actually, maybe try not to think back to those last games.
Regardless, seeing these teams matched up on the field again will bring about plenty of nostalgia and memories of the old Big 12.
And lastly, at the end of the day, money will always play a large factor with how these types of decisions play out. And, let’s be real, the SEC will be a very, very wealthy conference if Oklahoma and Texas join.
For starters, the Sooners and Longhorns are two of the highest value football programs in the country (Texas rated by Forbes second most valuable, Oklahoma sixth), and the fanbases that follow them are incredible. TV ratings for matchups such as Oklahoma vs. Alabama or Texas vs. Georgia would be through the roof, and the frequency of high-caliber matchups that will occur in conference play will skyrocket.
All in all, this spells more money to go around the conference. Every team will benefit immensely, including the Missouri Tigers. Home dates with either of the potential new schools at Faurot Field are guaranteed to sell out, and the atmospheres will be electric.
As of now, this is all speculation. Nothing is finalized, nor will it be for some time. The magnitude of this move is so big, however, that it is certainly worth thinking about and planning methods of adaptation throughout the athletic department as a whole should everything work out.
For now, it is up to the public to weight in on whether this is a good or bad move for the future of the sport. All the Mizzou faithful can do is watch, wait and hope for either one outcome or the other.