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July 18, 2012
HOOVER, AL--Missouri and Arkansas will not play this season, barring both teams making the Southeastern Conference championship game. But all signs point toward the Tigers and Razorbacks becoming annual rivals as soon as 2013.
"I think we'll end up playing them soon," Arkansas tailback Knile Davis said. "I think that will be a good rival. I think Missouri's a good program and hopefully it happens in the future."
"As I look at it from my standpoint, It's a natural geographical rivalry for us, okay?" said Razorbacks' interim coach John L. Smith. "Now, if we continue with having to play a rival on the other side of the league, as a format for scheduling, to me it's an automatic. And it's an automatic fit for us just because of the locale, okay? Now we get to develop that rivalry."
Proximity plays a part. Mike Anderson's move from Columbia to Fayetteville, Dorial Green-Beckham's choice of the Tigers over the Razorbacks and the general competition for multiple recruits every year between the two make it a natural fit. And that's something the Razorbacks haven't really had in their first 20 years in the SEC.
"For us, being an automatic rival on the other side, South Carolina, I don't know if that makes total sense just from a geographic standpoint, number one," Smith said. "So I think Missouri makes more sense. I think I see that as developing into a big rivalry for us, and hopefully for Missouri."
"Obviously I won't play them. They're gonna be in the East side this year. I think it could potentially be a pretty good rivalry," quarterback Tyler Wilson said. "Now we talk about the Battle of the Boot and LSU, I'm not sure if LSU really feels the same way we do about it. But I think there could be a rivalry there in the future."
Wilson knows a little bit more about the Tigers than most Razorbacks. Mizzou recruited him heavily out of Greenwood (AR) High School in 2008.
"I was a spread guy coming out of high school, wanted to throw for a lot of yards and do that kind of stuff," Wilson said. "And they knew how to do it so it was definitely an option."
Missouri turned up the heat in the recruitment after its top target, Blaine Gabbert committed to Nebraska in May. Wilson attended a camp in Columbia in the summer of 2007, made multiple unofficial visits and had the Tigers high on his list.
"Missouri's been one of the top schools during the whole process," he told PowerMizzou.com that August. "I don't have anyone definite at number one just yet, but Missouri's always been right at the top. I probably call coach (David) Yost every two or three days."
Ultimately, Wilson would commit to Tulsa and then-coach Gus Malzahn in September. That stuck for three months until Bobby Petrino was hired by Arkansas and offered Wilson a scholarship. He became Petrino's first commitment in December. Some five years later, though, Wilson still has good things to say about the Tigers.
"Coach Yost, Coach Pinkel, great guys that I was impressed with. Obviously they threw the ball around a lot with Chase Daniel and then Blaine was there. They understand how to throw the football," Wilson said. "It was definitely an option."
It worked out for both parties. Missouri ended up getting Gabbert after a coaching change at Nebraska and Wilson enters his senior season as a pre-season all-SEC quarterback and a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. And though he won't be on the field, it looks like the school Wilson chose and the one he passed on will become quite familiar with each other in the coming seasons.
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