Report of Missouri Tigers To Big Ten Carries Little Weight

Ryan FallerAnalyst IMay 3, 2010

The BS meter regarding Big Ten expansion appears to be ascending ever so rapidly towards its peak.

According to a report published Friday by, the official site of the NBC affiliate in South Bend, Ind., the University of Missouri is leaving the Big 12 and will "soon join the Big Ten."

But the Tigers, according to the report, won't be alone. "Expected" to join Missouri in a shift to the Big Ten will be Syracuse, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Nebraska.

Really? Nice.

So, despite the fact Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany only days ago publicly reaffirmed his 12- to 18-month deadline and denied hiring a firm to vet expansion candidates, a television station—in South Bend, no less—is telling us the deal is done?

Phew. Thank God.

Now the whole entire college football nation can rest. Those bogus rumors will have no choice but to subside.The dominoes have started to fall. The other three 16-team superconferences have officially been given permission to form.

As much as I would like to buy into the credibility of the report, as I am more than a proponent of MU bailing on the financially-inept Big 12, I cannot. And I have reservations for a couple of reasons.

For one, the report cites a source in St. Louis that is "familiar with the situation."

Why must this so-called source be shrouded in mystery? If he or she has moonlighted thoroughly enough with Big Ten officials to ward off the conference's silent treatment, why not show thy face?

Better yet, if the "source" requested anonymity, why did WNDU refuse to come out and say so?

Because I am willing to bet that if any reporter covering Big Ten expansion was leaked crucial information regarding the process, it was done so off the record.

As such, the release of the name of said reporter would give Big Ten officials grounds to plausibly deny the validity of the report.

Secondly, I am left to assume that the word "situation" is a reference to Missouri's admitted interest in an invitation to the Big Ten should it be extended, which it hasn't.

Missouri officials, namely Chancellor Brady Deaton and athletic director Mike Alden, have been reluctant to speak at length on the topic.

Back in December, shortly after the Big Ten announced its plans to explore expansion, Deaton told the Kansas City Star that if there were "an official inquiry or invitation, we [the University of Missouri] would evaluate it based upon what would be in the best of interest of MU athletically and academically."

Meanwhile, Alden, despite echoing the sentiments of head football coach Gary Pinkel that MU doesn't exactly reap the same benefits as a school like Texas from the Big 12's revenue-sharing model, has reiterated that Missouri is a proud member of its current conference.

All things considered, the MU brass has been just as tight-lipped about the prospects of expansion as Delany and his cohorts. Additionally, if MU had accepted an invitation from the Big Ten, as the WDNU report implies, the news would be splashed all over Columbia, Mo., newspapers as we speak.

But it's not. Nor has anything been reported by any newspaper, television station, or sports talk radio station in St. Louis, where the source is said to have originated. In fact, I found of no reputable outlet in St. Louis that even bothered to link to this report from its Web site.

It's entirely possible that the source mentioned in the report is no source at all, simply a piggybacker who prematurely ran with a story released by KOMU, the NBC affiliate in Columbia, Mo., Thursday morning claiming MU had agreed to move to the Big Ten.

The claim was in response to a comment made on a live broadcast by college football writer Bruce Feldman, who on Wednesday afternoon was cited by ESPN Radio personality Scott Van Pelt as saying in an email that MU to the Big Ten was a "done deal," according to Feldman's conversation with an anonymous athletic director in the Pac-10.

Confusing and convoluted, to say the least. Unfortunately, that snippet of Van Pelt's radio show was edited from appearing in the podcast version of the broadcast.

That story, which has since been updated to reflect KOMU's theoretical retraction of the initial report, is available on the station's site. As it turns out, it reads like everything else regarding the University of Missouri and the Big Ten.

Moving on, why is a source with credible information regarding candidates for Big Ten expansion contacting a television station that covers Notre Dame, a school whose athletic director has categorically opposed the idea of  the Irish relinquishing their independence?

Would a school such as Pittsburgh not be more interested in this development, especially considering Missouri's inclusion in the Big Ten would significantly increase the Panthers' chances of being excluded?

My search to uncover another mention of this story revealed nothing more than a wary reaction from the Detroit Free Press , as well as a biting, cautionary piece by SB Nation writer Adam Jacobi.

But I suppose this is par for the course. So-called developments in the story of Big Ten expansion continue to be fashioned by nameless sources. Phrases like "close to the situation," "so-and-so with knowledge of this and that," and "I have reason to believe" have all been used.

And the rampant speculation will last until the word comes from Delany himself, whenever that may be.

Personally, I want Missouri to join the Big Ten. At first, I was guarded, and wondered what good would come from such a drastic move.

However, I am a proud alum, and I want to see my alma mater fatten its pockets while cranking up its academic reputation.

Like many others out there, I think it's only a matter of time before Missouri receives, and accepts, a bid from the Big Ten.

The thing is, when I hear about it, I want it to be the real deal.

And not some steaming pile of BS.

Image provided by Getty Images



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