I had not planned to begin Mizzou posting until August, but recent events have forced my hand and Mizzou fans would be ignorant not to respond.
For years, there had been grumblings that Mizzou would be a perfect candidate for inclusion into the Big 10. Those grumblings have gotten louder in recent days for two reasons:
1) Kevin Weiberg, ex-Big 12 commissioner, joined the Big Ten Network staff in late July, immediately supporting a 12-team conference with a championship game. Big 10 commish Jim Delany has wasted no time jumping on board
2) ESPN's new show, College Football Live, has been debating the idea ad nauseum.
Mizzou AD Mike Alden has since said he has not been contacted regarding a possible move. Notre Dame, Colorado, Iowa State, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Syracuse have also been rumored to be on the move someday. However, Mizzou appears to be the frontrunner in most pundits' minds. Notre Dame was in talks with the Big Ten as recently as 1999, but it's hard to fathom Notre Dame moving and sacrificing its independence, and more importantly, its TV contract with NBC.
Missouri, given its geographical position, has always seemed like a good fit for the Big Ten. Mizzou has already developed the Arch Rivalry against Illinois with yearly basketball games in St. Louis, which will be supplemented by yearly football games in STL until 2010.
But here's an expanded breakdown of what exactly this move would mean for Mizzou:
- Development of the Missouri-Illinois Arch Rivalry
- Increased prescence in the Midwest, especially in recruiting
- Consequent increase in media coverage, between Big 10-loving ESPN and, to a lesser extent, the Big Ten Network
- Revenue sharing gives Mizzou equal piece of Big Ten revenue pie, as opposed to the 11th-ranked piece the Tigers get in the Big 12. In 2005-2006, Mizzou was allocated $6.53 million. Texas received the most, with $9.68 million.
- If the conference was split into East/West divisions, Mizzou would likely be joined in the West by Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. Save for Wisconsin, no one in this group even begins to come close to "perennial power." Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana would form the West. Columbia Tribune Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter outlined this plan in a June blog post.
- Border War with Kansas is no longer in-conference; Burgeoning rivalry with Nebraska likely dies
- Football takes MASSIVE recruiting hit in Texas without Big 12 ties and exposure. From a football standpoint, this fact alone may be the biggest deal breaker.
- The move to Big Ten West would not be a substantial upgrade over the Big 12 North. In fact, the Big 12 North almost seems easier to win, Mizzou has just choked opportunities over the last few years.
- Big 12 is an emerging basketball power. If Mike Anderson's team were to be a top 3-4 team in the conference in the next couple years, doing so in the Big 12 would give them instant credibility.
- If the Big 12 truly values Mizzou (where there is no inclination that they actually do), Alden and the department can use the Big Ten offer as leverage into Big 12 revenue sharing, while keeping the above points intact.
So, Mizzou blog nation, Big XII blog nation, Big Ten blog nation - your thoughts?