Aside from the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and its retail members, who really cares if Missouri leaves the Big 12 Conference for the Southeast Conference?
It is known that, years ago, University of Missouri officials tried to gain membership in the Big Ten Conference, but they were rejected. They tried again within the past year or so and once again were denied admission.
Now, MU officials have knocked on the door of the Southeast Conference, asking to be admitted. Initial reports indicated that not enough SEC presidents were in favor of accepting a new member, but, apparently, there has been sufficient arm-twisting that the Tigers have been accepted by the membership committee.
Again, who really cares?
Granted, this writer is a lifelong fan and supporter of Kansas University, and his thoughts about MU may be based on individual actions and incidents, so it is wrong to generalize about the entire MU family. However, for whatever reason, Missouri is a different university and is in a different environment than the other Big 12 schools. Their fans are different; their alumni are different; their behavior is different; and they really don’t fit in with the other Big 12 schools.
It’s obvious football and money are the driving forces at MU. The university is not shifting to the SEC for academic reasons because the Big 12 has had far more schools in the American Association of Universities, the nation’s most prestigious association of research universities. Prior to Texas A&M’s move to the SEC, the conference had only two AAU schools: the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University.
The Big 12 would have the opportunity to invite one, two or three new members to join the conference if Missouri bolts. Chances are, whatever schools are invited, they will strengthen the excellence of the overall conference rather than merely add another football school.
If MU leaves, the annual Big 12 postseason basketball tournament might be moved, probably to Oklahoma City. Likewise, the so-called “Border War” football game between KU and MU, held at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium in recent years, would come to an end, and any replacement game for KU would be played on the campuses of KU and its opponent — where they belong.
Some in Kansas City are trying to dream up other athletic events in their city to replace the dollars that would be lost by the demise of the traditional basketball tournament and the KU-MU football game. All this is based on dollars and cents and has nothing to do with school ties, history or geography.
Some have asked whether, even if Missouri is no longer a member of the Big 12, KU would agree to play the Tigers in some kind of annual football or basketball game in Kansas City. Based on KU basketball coach Bill Self’s reply to such a suggestion, the chances of such a game are slight.
A Baylor University coach recently was asked a similar question about continuing to play Texas A&M teams now that A&M is joining the SEC. She likened the situation to a nasty divorce. After all the fights and accusations and after the divorce has been granted, the husband acknowledges the divorce but asks his former wife if he might be able to occasionally sleep with her. The coach answered this hypothetical question with a resounding “NO.”
With MU officials and the thousands of MU fans urging the university to thumb its nose at the Big 12 and jump to the SEC, KU officials and fans should make it clear they have no desire to continue any athletic events with Missouri.
MU officials have made it clear they think playing football games in sold-out stadiums and the money attached to such games is the most important yardstick in determining their future intercollegiate athletic and academic relationships.
Once again, who’s sorry to see them leave?