December 18, 2017

Missou’s Declaration Perpetuates Realignment Unrest

Just when the mad flurry of rumors and speculation regarding conference realignment seemed to quiet and settle into a temporary sanity, the University of Missouri stoked the fire. After meeting earlier this week, the University’s curators emerged with the now famous rhetoric: We’re exploring all options in the best interests of the University.

Translation: Missouri is not committed to the Big 12. We’ve always wanted to go to the Big 10, but we may go to the SEC also. In the meantime, we’ll smile and wave … and basically keep NCAA Division I football in a state of unrest.

Though the remaining Big 12 teams seemed to have ironed out differences and TV revenue sharing, Missouri’s posturing keeps the conference on edge and causes more frustration for the Big East.

The SEC has declared itself content at 13 teams with the addition next season of Texas A&M. Logic dictates that the conference will even its number of member programs, but the SEC acts at its own pace and discretion, insulated at the top of the college football world.

The Pac-12 has declared itself not interested in short-term expansion, and its long-time Rose Bowl dance partner, the Big 10, has closed doors too.

So the effect of Missouri’s announcement is that the Big 12 cannot presume on the school’s continued membership. At nine schools plus Missouri – for now, it wants to add programs and stabilize. Candidates recently rumored to be brought aboard include Texas Christian University and the University of Louisville. TCU is scheduled to join Louisville in the Big East next season, but the destination is no longer as appealing with the defections of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC – and Connecticut a very public ACC wannabe.

The Big East, like the Big 12, wants to shore up its ranks. Its location, history and football reputation however make it the least likely destination for football programs of stature, and a wait-and-see destination for any program really. It may be imprudent for any school to enter the Big East in its tenuous status of present.

So, Missouri’s opportunity seeking keeps college football on the alert in a conference alignment situation seemingly unable to find contentment.