The announcement of the University of Missouri leaving the Big 12 conference to join the Southeastern Conference came as no surprise to most. Discussions had been going on for weeks before the official announcement was made and it was clear the SEC was looking for a 14th member after the addition of Texas A&M. The question now is, what can Mizzou offer to a conference that is already widely considered the best for football? Perhaps it can help out in another sport.
It’s safe to say that football is king in the SEC. With the exception of Kentucky and Vanderbilt, every school in the conference is considered a football school, including Texas A&M.
With the SEC being the home of the last five BCS National Champions, it's unlikely that Missouri will challenge the likes of Alabama or Florida for top billing in football. It’s possible that the Tigers have made themselves more attractive to recruits in the Midwest by joining the SEC, but that won’t happen if they don’t improve on the field first.
When it comes to basketball in the SEC, of course everyone thinks of Kentucky. One of the most storied programs in history has been resurrected by John Calipari and made the SEC a viable basketball conference. According to ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan, the addition of not only Missouri, but also Texas A&M makes the SEC one of the top conferences in the NCAA.
In his article, Brennan points out that if the two new additions were to be joining the conference this year, the SEC would have six teams in the preseason top 25 and three in the top 10. He also believes that two additional teams could make the NCAA tournament, giving the SEC an astounding of eight teams. Of course, this is only hypothetical because the Tigers and Aggies does not join until the 2012-13 season, but just imagine the possibilities for a revamped SEC.
The biggest criticism comes from the fans that are worried about losing the traditional football rivalries. Ben Kercheval points out in his article on NBCSports.com that two schools in particular are making sure they preserve one of the greatest rivalries in college football. Tennessee and Alabama have been playing for years, and they are not about to let conference expansion ruin that.
Kercheval points out that a nine-game conference schedule with six divisional games, two permanent partners and one rotating cross-divisional game would be the most likely scheduling concept. Regardless of what is decided, or how many conference game are to be played, come the third Saturday in October Tennessee and Alabama must be playing.