Earlier this week, on our very own message board, Occam's Razor was used as justification that Missouri would end up in the Big Ten. The scientific principle states, basically, that the simplest explanation to any problem is generally the correct one.
Suddenly, using the same thought, it's getting tougher and tougher to see the Tigers in the Big Ten.
Before we get into all this, let me say that I don't know what's going to happen. I don't think anyone does. In the last week, I've gone from, "Missouri will be in the Big Ten by the end of the week and I can get back to normal life," to "Oh my, I really am going to be covering a Mountain West team," about 15 times. When nobody who really knows anything is talking, well, you're left to speculate and throw around wild theories.
Speaking of wild theories, those are now what Missouri fans seem to be using to justify why the Tigers are still headed to the Big Ten in the near future. The entire saga has been orchestrated by the Big Ten so some other league looked like the bad guy. Nebraska had to go first to blow up the Big XII. Missouri has had an offer forever. The Tigers have played Texas like a fiddle. Those thoughts and more have been thrown around by Missouri fans recently.
And, listen, one of them very well could be right. It's not impossible. But you have to consider the other side as well. Jim Delany has said the Big Ten is going to pause and slow-play expansion again. Dan Beebe has said Delany told him no other Big 12 team's are on the Big Ten's radar at this time. Various newspapers have reported that Missouri is virtually out of the picture with the league. And if you don't trust the national guys, even Dave Matter at the Columbia Daily Tribune has said that he was told Missouri isn't in Big Ten plans in the immediate future.
That's a lot of smoke. Maybe they're all wrong. Maybe the stories have all been fabricated and Delany is making evil faces and laughing hysterically while he waits for Larry Scott and the PAC-10 to step into the role of the bad guys who blew up college football.
But what if they're not? What if Missouri really is on the back burner-or moved off the stove entirely-for the Big Ten? Well, then, it's time to get another plan together.
I heard a lot of talk about keeping the Big XII together on Friday. Blair Kerkhoff reports in the Kansas City Star this morning that officials from Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State had a conference call to explore that subject on Saturday. I guess that's a plan (though it would have been unthinkable just a couple of weeks ago that these would be Missouri's allies in conference expansion). It's not a plan Tiger fans are going to like. I don't see how that league-even with the likes of TCU, Houston, Memphis, Southern Miss, Boise State, whoever-would be considered good enough for a BCS bid.
No, it's time to go out and start selling yourself if you're Missouri. Other schools are doing it. Gene Stallings has led a push to sell A&M to the SEC. It might be working. Harvey Perlman more or less said that Nebraska wasn't looking to go anywhere until rumors started that other teams would leave. Then Husker officials sold themselves to the Big Ten. Apparently they made a good sales pitch.
Whether it's the SEC, the Big East, or even the Big Ten again, it's time for Missouri officials to convince someone they deserve a spot. And, listen, under almost any circumstance, the Tigers will have a spot if we get to four 16-team conferences. You can't paint a picture where the Tigers aren't one of the 64 most desirable outfits in the country. But there's a difference between landing somewhere because they wanted you and landing somewhere because there were no other choices. The perception among Tiger fans is that they are nobody's first choice. And maybe that's true. But you don't have to be the first choice. You just have to be chosen. Second choice is good. So is third. But nobody wants to be that kid standing alone, selected to the kickball team only because everyone else was already chosen. "Okay, I guess we'll take that guy."
And I'm not suggesting Missouri is to that point yet. I don't think they'll reach that point. But a lot of Tiger fans (trust me, I've heard from them) believe that Missouri does a poor job of promoting itself in situations like this. They believe it's why Kansas played in the Orange Bowl, why Iowa State played in the Insight Bowl and why, now, Nebraska is in the Big Ten and Missouri is twisting in the wind.
Missouri has a lot to like for a new conference. No, they aren't the platinum blonde that guarantees you're gonna have a wild night at the prom. But they're hot enough and they have enough fun that somebody should take them to the dance as much more than just a way to get in the door.
It's up to Mike Alden and Brady Deaton to convince someone of that. Time to put the salesman hats on. The Board of Curators meets at 8:00 tonight. The University of Missouri needs to walk out of that meeting with a plan. And then they need to go sell the hell out of it.
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