Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tigers should embrace the Big East

Well, someone has to be the last to write about Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State to the Big East. I know the story has been discussed, but my question is more about the discussion of it than the story itself. Kansas and K-State fans seem to see this as a best case scenario (assuming Baylor doesn't save the Big 12), while the reaction of the Missouri fan base seems to be the exact opposite. Two quick thoughts on this:

1. I thought last year's runaround from the Big 10(12) might have lowered the self-perception in Columbia down to a more realistic level...but I guess not. I don't dispute that the Tigers are the most attractive of the three schools, I'm just not sure that's getting you invited to the Big 10(12) or the SEC anytime soon.

2. Why in the world do the Tigers want to go to those places anyway? Prestige? Winning gets you prestige. Just for a moment, where do the Tigers fit in the SEC? Below Alabama, Florida, LSU and Auburn, right? Tennessee and Georgia have been down...but history tells us they'll rise again. Comfortably ahead of Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt...which leaves us Arkansas, South Carolina (as long as the OBC is there) and Ole Miss as Missouri's peers in the SEC. In other words, the Tigers are within a game or two of .500 team most years, certainly not the level of prestige they've built in the Big 12.

On the other hand, they could preserve their rivalries with Kansas and K-State and move into a football conference with a BCS slot that they would have a legitimate shot at winning each season. The article I linked above projects a western division of the Big East as MU, KU, KSU, Louisville, Cincinnati, and TCU. IMO, that's a more accurate reflection of where the Tigers belong...and where they can succeed.

Is mediocrity in the SEC better than success in the Big East? Not if they both lead to the same BCS or playoff system. Not with the Big East getting ready to renegotiate their TV deal in 2012. Certainly not if you measure success in conference championships, BCS bowl games or (dare to dream) National Championships. It may seem unlikely, but the path to greatness for the Tigers lies not in the greatest conference in college football...but in the greatest opportunity.

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