Well, this is certainly getting interesting. And utterly maddening.
On the same day reports from the area surfaced that an offer of SEC membership was on the table for Missouri — an offer subsequently denied by the conference — and the same school announced a Board of Curators meeting for Thursday that may or may not involve a lengthy discussion on athletics, another report has connected the current Big 12 school with the home of the five-time defending BcS champs in football.
Citing two people familiar with the discussions, the Birmingham News reports that Mizzou will join the SEC barring any new developments. The paper writes that “a majority of presidents have endorsed the informal agreement.”
If the report is accurate, Mizzou would become the 14th member of the current 12-school SEC, with Texas A&M becoming the 13th once Baylor and their ilk stops nipping at their heels. The conference’s current two-division setup would be revamped, with the two new schools settling in the West and Auburn moving to the East. Thus, the new divisional lineup would look as follows:
The conference would also undoubtedly go from eight conference games to at least nine. Obviously six of those games would be played against division opponents and, with Auburn moving from the same division as Alabama, at least one cross-division “rivalry” game would have to be protected and played annually in order to avoid civil unrest in the state of Alabama.
A significant downside is that the Iron Bowl would be moved from the end of the regular season to earlier in the year in order to prevent the possibility of the two teams meeting in back-to-back weekends — the Iron Bowl followed by the SEC championship game. When the Big Ten went to two six-team divisions they placed Ohio State and Michigan in two separate and laughably-named divisions but kept The Game as the regular season finale. Why the SEC reportedly feels they couldn’t follow the Big Ten’s lead on a situation that may come into play once a decade, if not longer, is unknown.
Of course, this is all predicated on Mizzou actually moving on from a conference that may not be as dead as most everyone assumes. After the past couple of weeks, who the hell really knows anymore.
UPDATED 8:01 p.m. ET: And just like with the original report that had an offer on the table for Missouri from the SEC, the conference has issued a statement denying that there is an informal agreement with the school.
“The Southeastern Conference has not agreed, formally or informally, to accept any institution other than Texas A&M and there have not been conference discussions regarding changes in divisional alignment.”