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Realignment Today: 3:27 p.m. - The latest on where Mizzou stands. Didn't you miss this?
Good afternoon and welcome to another week of conference realignment madness.
While things have calmed substantially in terms of where Kansas University might be headed — it’s clear that the Jayhawks are staying in the Big 12 — the threat of realignment still looms and currently seems to be affecting at least three other conferences, perhaps more.
Just as they like it, the Missouri Tigers are at the center of this latest round and they have been for quite some time. In case you haven’t cared, haven’t paid close attention or simply haven’t noticed, here’s a quick recap of what Mizzou has been up to.
• Summer 2010 — The Tigers openly flirt with their dream league, the Big Ten, sparking a string of realignment unlike any we’ve ever seen. The end result sent Colorado to the Pac-10 and Nebraska to the Big Ten and left the Big 12 with 10 teams.
• Early August 2011 — After talk of Texas A&M to the SEC turned serious, the Tigers were rumored to be one of the SEC’s targets for a 14th school.
• Late August 2011 — Despite the rumors continuing to fly, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton and athletic director Mike Alden remain committed to the Big 12 and, in many ways, serve as the face of the fight to save the league.
• Mid-September 2011 — The Big 12 is saved, thanks largely to the Pac-12 deciding against expansion and everyone believes it’s time to move on with a new commissioner and a unified league. Everyone except Missouri.
• Early October 2011 — After Deaton resigns his post as the chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, Missouri curators authorize Deaton to act on behalf of the university in any future realignment discussions.
And, with that, we’re caught up. Taking last summer’s episode out of the equation, the prevailing thought from those I’ve spoken with throughout the league has been that Missouri was going to stay and was simply just soaking up its time in the spotlight. As the days and weeks went by, however, those feelings, which started out close to 100 percent, slowly weakened. After each move or announcement Missouri made, the percentage would dip.
It reached its lowest point during conversations last week, in which multiple sources said it’s now 50-50 for the Tigers to stay or go.
Although that news seems to be ominous for the future of the KU-MU rivalry, it actually won’t do much to harm the league. Is the Big 12 better with Missouri in it? Perhaps. But will the league be crippled if the Tigers leave? Nope. They proved that by adding TCU despite Missouri’s uncertainty. And, if MU leaves, they’ll add another team or three and be just fine.
That’s the part of this whole equation that doesn’t quite add up. Sure, Missouri is a valued member of the Big 12 and one that the league would like to keep. But it seems to me — and to others — that the Tigers are overvaluing their place in all this.
Maybe that comes from the SEC reaching out and asking them to join. Maybe the Tigers got big heads when they heard that someone else wanted them and they haven’t been thinking right ever since.
Forget what the Tigers’ departure would do to the Border War or the rest of the conference. Kansas City stands to be the biggest loser in all this, and it’s quite clear that the Tigers — at least the ones who are making this decision — don’t really care. No more Big 12 tournament, no more conference affiliation, no more city divided. Just a bunch of KU fans, with a smattering of purple and a handful of misplaced and abandoned supporters of the black and gold.
Those who cover Mizzou a lot more closely than I do seem to think it’s only a matter of time now.
This report, from Mr. SEC, quotes Mizzou’s Rivals.com site, PowerMizzou.com, as saying the ball could be rolling on a move by the end of the week.
And here’s a good take from The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel on how Mizzou’s decision impacts future Big 12 expansion.
The bottom line is this: We’ve reached the point where people are ready for Missouri to do whatever it’s going to do. If they’re leaving, great, get on with it, go. If they’re staying, stop making this about you and jump on board with the rest of the league in its effort to move forward.
The official paperwork on the granting of television rights is expected to be signed soon. After the nine schools on board in the Big 12 sign it, it will be sent to Columbia, Mo., and will act as an ultimatum of sorts.
It’s not the strongest move the Big 12 could make. But it may be the smartest.
The question that now lingers is if the Tigers will make a move before they even receive the paperwork.