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September 20, 2011

If Mizzou moves, all signs point south



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Over the last few weeks, rumors have swirled about the future homes of nearly every school in the Big 12 Conference. Missouri has been viewed as a team that may not wield the power in realignment of an Oklahoma or a Texas, but likely has more options than the likes of Baylor and Iowa State.

The Tigers have been tied in some fashion to the Big Ten, the Big East, the PAC-12, the Southeastern Conference and even the ACC over that period of time. But all signs are now pointing one direction for the Tigers.

PowerMizzou.com has learned through sources that Missouri is squarely in the SEC's crosshairs as the potential 14th team. Our sources have indicated that the SEC wants Mizzou as No. 14, but is willing to wait on the implosion of the Big 12 Conference before making any moves if necessary.

The centerpiece as far as the Big 12 situation goes right now is Oklahoma. The University's Board of Regents yesterday authorized president David Boren to explore all options with regard to conference affiliation. Sources in Oklahoma have indicated that there is "almost nothing" that could keep the Sooners in the Big 12 at this point. While the door is not completely shut, sources indicated that chances are incredibly slim Boren and Oklahoma could be convinced to stay in the conference.

The Sooners leaving would likely be the death blow for the Big 12. Sources have indicated that there are people in positions of power at Mizzou who still have an interest in holding the league together as of today. However, if the Big 12 goes away, the SEC is the preferred choice of those directly involved with Missouri athletics.

Can the Big 12 survive, even without Oklahoma? There is no doubt Texas is the power broker in the league. The Longhorns, who has eyed the ACC and the PAC-12, has said it will make a conference decision within two weeks. There is a growing sentiment around Missouri to make the move to the SEC, especially if the Oklahoma schools are gone.

"Why would Texas commit to the Pac-12 any sooner than they absolutely have to, if UT really wants the Big 12 to survive," a Big 12 administrator told Orangebloods.com yesterday.

It has been clear that the Longhorns' top wish would be keeping the Big 12 intact. However, that becomes far less likely if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State depart. Still, Texas could attempt lean on Missouri to stay even if those two leave.

Sources with knowledge of Missouri's situation told PowerMizzou.com that the SEC is willing to wait on the Tigers and to let the situation with the Big 12 play out before making a move.

Indications from multiple sources around Mizzou are that the SEC is the likely landing spot if the Big 12 goes away. In addition, sources said, there are many around Mizzou who would prefer to make the jump regardless of the future of the Big 12 or the ultimate decision of the Oklahoma duo.

West Virginia has also been mentioned as a potential target for the 14th team in SEC expansion. However, reports have surfaced over the last 36 hours that the Mountaineers may have been put on hold by the league. Brett McMurphy, a national college football writer for CBSSports.com tweeted this morning "Multiple Big East sources said they have been told by WVU officials that WVU rejected by ACC & SEC."

PowerMizzou.com has been unable to confirm those reports independently, but there have been multiple indications that the Mountaineers sit behind Missouri on the SEC's wish list.

The bottom line is this: It appears that Missouri has a spot in the Southeastern Conference if and when the Tigers are ready to make the jump. However, it is not a slam dunk.

The remaining questions are these:

--Could Mizzou make the move to the SEC independent of what Oklahoma and Oklahoma State decide?

--Will the desire to keep the Big 12 intact win out, if the Oklahoma schools opt to stay?

--If Oklahoma and Oklahoma State do leave, is that the final blow that cannot be overcome, and does that launch Missouri to the SEC? Or could Texas somehow scrape together enough support to keep the Tigers around and hold a watered-down version of the conference together?

As has been the case throughout the realignment situation, there are many moving parts. No deal is done until it is officially done. But all indications are that if Missouri chooses to leave the Big 12, or if there is no Big 12 to leave, the SEC is the likely landing spot for the Tigers.

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