Rumors began to swirl Wednesday evening that Colorado would end their short stint in the Pac-12 and head back to the Big 12; that news became official just a short time later. Almost instantaneously a few takes hit the internet that Missouri should do the same, and leave the SEC to go rejoin the Buffs in the old stomping grounds. Somehow that was actually floated as a serious idea; nevermind any kind of perspective regarding the relative strength of the two leagues, the investment Missouri has made in the SEC and the SEC in Missouri, or what those old grounds even look like now.
Missouri needs to take the cue from Colorado and go back home.— Carrington Harrison (@cdotharrison) July 26, 2023
As best I can tell, two groups of people really want Missouri to admit they hate the SEC and flee back to the Big 12. The first is Kansas City media (like C-Dot) and sports fans who view Mizzou largely through the lens of the love(hate) triangle with kansas and Kansas State. The second group is an extremely online group of fans, mostly South Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee supporters, who scream and yell that Missouri doesn’t belong and has to go back. You can find these people on Twitter and R/CFB, and their posts are predictable and reflexive and happen any time someone mentions the Tigers, the Big 12, American geography, Gary Pinkel, the 2013 and 2014 seasons, or even sneezes in a way that sounds like someone saying “Drinkwitz.”
So, yeah. No one with insight, perspective, or decision-making capabilities believes Missouri should leave the SEC. But let’s entertain the idea and explain why it is dumber than sin.
Dolla dolla bills, y’all, Conference media rights Rules Everything Around Me. Colorado was trapped between a rock and a hard place – stuck in a conference with a network that nobody gets and a cable television schedule already filled up by the other conferences. They fled the Pac-12 to secure their piece of the pie before it collapsed. Missouri is already guaranteed a slice of the biggest pie there is. Yes, their conference peers have bigger plates than them and can take more slices at the buffet, but at least Mizzou is in the restaurant. Colorado just pulled into the gas station to grab some trail mix because the place where they had reservations got shut down by the health department. Okay, this metaphor is stretched too thin.
2) Missouri has spent a decade cultivating their new neighborhood.
All of the weeping and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments about Missouri’s “fit” in their new digs is frankly exhausting. It has been a decade! The Arkansas rivalry is finally getting some real heat, and I say to any Arkansas fans who get angry about calling it a rivalry, well: Q.E.D. Things are getting spicy with South Carolina and Kentucky in football, and old friends Oklahoma and Texas join next year. It is finally starting to feel like home – so why turn and run now?
I can understand being wistful about men’s basketball and the glory days in the Big Eight, absolutely. But have some perspective: your joy for Mizzou hoops was not killed by the opponents, it was killed by the program itself. Running Kentucky and LSU off the floor felt amazing this past year with Dennis Gates. Look at you now— you are watching scrimmage highlights in August, you are following recruiting closely, and you’re even mapping out rotations in the margins of your notebook again. You were not doing that in 2015, and it wasn’t because the team was playing Mississippi State and Kentucky instead of Nebraska and kansas. Be honest, those years would have been just as dreadful – or maybe even more so – if it were the Jayhawks, Sooners, and Cyclones administering those beatdowns instead. Dennis Gates has rebuilt the men’s hoops program, but it was not the conference affiliation that broke it in the first place; it broke itself.
3) You are nostalgic for something that does not exist anymore.
Missouri would not be turning back time and rejoining the Big 12 of 2009. Have you seen who is in the Big 12 right now? It is nothing like what was left behind. Yes, kansas is still there, but they already wisened up and those games are happening anyway. So what are we excited about? Missouri has no history with TCU, and only about a decade and a half with Texas Tech and Baylor. Do trips to West Virginia and Cincinnati get the blood flowing? How is a weeknight trip to Provo or Fort Worth for hoops any better than Gainesville or Baton Rouge?
Yes, the little pocket of Big 8 nostalgia would be fun, but you can schedule those in the non-conference anyway, and the Olympic sports already compete plenty with those regional programs. The Big 12 of 2024 is not the old Big Eight anymore; it is just a fancier version of Conference USA.
When I first saw that take come down my timeline, I thought there would be plenty of Missouri fans echoing it. But it seems like everyone has plenty of perspective as it mostly got shouted down. Yeah, there is some nostalgia, and yes, it has been a decade of adjustment for the fans. But Missouri is in a stable home in the wealthiest neighborhood in college sports. Luckily the fanbase and decision makers are not going to walk away from that just because Colorado had to make a tough decision.