Many years from now, sports historians may call this period of college football, "The Great Realignment." In the last two years, we have seen the Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC Conferences all add schools. The Big East both added a school (TCU) and lost two (Pittsburg and Syracuse) while the Big-12 nearly ceased to exist. Yet, this period of upheaval is coming to a close. The Big Ten, Pac-12, and ACC are all satisfied with their current complement of schools. Only one major change remains: Missouri wants to leave the Pac-12. Should it be allowed to go?
It is no secret that the University of Missouri is unhappy with its place in the Big-12. The Missouri Tigers would like to move to the Big Ten but, with that conference disinterested, will settle for a move to the SEC. Several of the Big-12's schools, emboldened by the survival of their conference, would like to stop Missouri from leaving. But, they shouldn't; if the Tigers are unhappy they should be allowed to go.
It is very good thing for college football that the Big-12 managed to survive. It remains the weakest mega-conference but, had it died, the double-inclusion of both Oklahoma and Texas in one of the other BCS Conferences would have tipped the competitive scales irrevocably. Not only would the chosen conference have dominated the sport, the Big-12's demise would have forced the other conferences to scoop up all the other powerhouse mid-majors in the country. Good football outside of the major BCS conferences would have ceased to exist. But, now that the Big-12 will live to fight another day, it should not struggle to keep a discontent member in the fold.
The Missouri Tigers run a strong, competitive football program and dominate two midsized television markets but the school is hardly a centerpiece program. At best, the Tigers will be a mid-sized, mid-level program in the Big-12, Big Ten, or SEC. Having an important, but non-essential program, in the fold against their will only hurts the Big-12's cohesion and ability to move forward. The conference should let Missouri go, find a decent replacement (BYU and Houston would be semi-viable candidates) and move forward. After all, as long as Oklahoma and Texas stay, the Big-12 will stay a big-time conference.
What about Missouri? This move is not about football, student athletes, or even demographics; it's just about money. The Tigers fear that Texas and Oklahoma will maintain an unequal distribution system of conference earnings. The Big Ten and the SEC are equal share conferences and, if they move to one or the other, the Tigers think they will get a larger share of the revenue pie. As far as the Big-12 and college football are concerned, why not let them try? The apocalyptic danger of "The Great Realignment" has already passed and this is just the last, rather insignificant, piece of the puzzle.
Here's an article about Politics and Conference Realignment.
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