Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton has a decision to make: to keep his University in the Big 12, or move it to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). On October 4th 2011, Deaton was authorized by the Missouri Board of Curators to make any decision regarding conference realignment, so ultimately, whether to leave or whether to stay is Deaton's Choice. Let's put ourselves in his shoes to see if there's ANY possible way to justify staying in the Big 12...
As shown here, SEC schools have a significantly higher academic ranking, on average, than the Big 12. And both have the same number of AAU members.
As shown here, the SEC would result in significantly higher revenue for Missouri than continued membership in the Big 12. (And that's assuming the Big 12 does not collapse in the next few years.) It's one of the primary reasons Texas A&M's president cited for leaving.
The Big 12 could survive a few more years, but many analysts doubt its long-term viability. Since 2010, the Big 12 has lost 3 flagship members – Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas A&M. Oklahoma has made it clear it would bolt for the Pac-12 as soon as it comes calling. And Texas won't commit beyond 6 years so it can also reconsider its options in the future. These circumstances make it possible (if not likely) that the Big 12 will eventually collapse. For Missouri, it's crucial to be in a conference with long-term stability like the SEC.
As shown here, the SEC's relative geography is very similar to that of the Big 12, so the deciding factor has to be something else. Atlanta, New Orleans, Florida, Tennessee, The Grove at Ole' Miss... these destinations sound a lot more appealing than Ames, Lawrence, Stillwater, Lubbock, and other cities of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Texas and Oklahoma are staying in the Big 12 for at least another year, which has cleared the way for Texas A&M to the SEC. But what if Missouri leaves too? Interim Big 12 conference commissioner Chuck Neinas has already answered that question, stating that the Big 12 would be viable without Missouri. And he's right – with BYU and multiple candidates from the Big East, Missouri CAN be replaced, just like Texas A&M.
The majority of MU fans want out of the Big 12 (and nearly all informed fans). But a few people out there still like the Big 12. Why?...
Some people are just very resistant to change, even if it's good change. I think there are many MU fans with good intentions who fall into this category. If these fans were more informed, they would join the rest of us in wanting out of the Big 12. They would understand why Nebraska, Colorado, and now Texas A&M have all left for greener pastures. They would also see that new traditons can be started, and old rivalries can continue out-of-conference.
The Big 8 is gone. The only tradition/rivalry that MU fans care about now is the one with KU. And as we've seen with Florida/FSU, Georgia/GT, SC/Clemson, and Illinois, you don't need to be in the same conference to play your rivals. In fact, being in separate conferences would likely intensify a rivalry.
MU would receive more national exposure in the SEC. It's more popular and more talked about in the media. Games are on CBS. Bowl game affiliations are better. And it makes recruiting top talent a lot easier (for athletes and coaches). Athletes like the exposure/competition, and coaches like the stability/salary. MU would be able to compete at a higher level.
So what's the bottom line? Is Missouri better off in the Big 12 or the SEC?...
If Deaton is to act solely in the best interest of Missouri, then his choice is clear.