MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – While it’s still a year away, starting next season the Missouri Tigers will begin playing in the Southeastern Conference’s eastern division. That means the Tigers could be making a trip to the Swamp to take on the Gators as early as next year.
The move had been expected for weeks, but Sunday, the deal was finally completed when the SEC welcomed Mizzou into the conference.
Missouri had a long history with the Big XII dating back to the time it was the Big Eight and even back as far as the Big Six. But, after watching the Big XII teeter on the brink of disaster the last 18 months; Mizzou decided to fortify its future in the SEC.
Mizzou will be the fourth major school to leave the Big XII Conference in the last two years. Nebraska left for the Big Ten, while Colorado went to the Pac-12. The Tigers will be joined in the Southeastern Conference by fellow former Big XII member, Texas A&M.
Missouri will also likely lose their rivalry game with Kansas University. The Jayhawks and Mizzou have the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi River. But Kansas, who hasn’t been pursued by any other conference, isn’t keen on keeping the rivalry anymore.
“We’re sorry to see a century-old conference rivalry end,” wrote Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “Missouri’s decision may have implications for fans and for the Kansas City area, but it won’t affect the long-term strength of the Big 12.”
Kansas’ Twitter feed was a little more succinct, “Missouri forfeits a century-old rivalry. We Win.”
Of course, outside of 2007, Kansas football hasn’t been relevant on the national stage in decades and the Tigers have dominated the Jayhawks in recent years.
For the Tigers, they will step way up in competition coming to the SEC. Head coach Gary Pinkel has won 10 games each season for the last four years. That record stopped this season, but Pinkel has established a winning program at Mizzou.
The Tigers will play annual games against Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and the Florida Gators. They will also probably face Texas A&M each season in an interdivisional rivalry game.
If Mizzou can keep their Texas recruiting pipeline open, and open up some new areas in the South to start recruiting more players there, then the Tigers will be a contender in the Eastern Division.
Beating the Western Division, that’s a story for a different day.