Missouri in SEC: Eastern Division or Western Division?

Doug ZerjalContributor IIOctober 18, 2011

DALLAS - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Casey Dick #11 of the Arkansas Razorbacks is sacked by Sean Weatherspoon #12 of the Missouri Tigers during the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on January 1, 2008 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With the Missouri Tigers' move to the SEC move imminent, one discussion is which division will the Tigers end up in?  Will Missouri join the currently stout SEC West or the currently-down SEC East?

The SEC West seems like the natural answer. The SEC West contains Arkansas, Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi, Mississippi State and LSU. With fellow Big 12 defector Texas A&M probably joining the SEC West, Missouri seems like a good fit there.

Missouri could develop a strong rivalry with Arkansas.  The game could become a neutral site game down the road like the current Missouri-Kansas Border War. Even if the game is played on the campuses, it will still be a great new rivalry.

Missouri and Texas A&M should also increase their rivalry by both competing in the new SEC West. They will forever be linked as the teams that left the Big 12 together to go to the SEC.

What if the Tigers end up in the SEC East? The SEC East currently contains Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Kentucky.

Alabama has hinted that they would be more than willing to approve Missouri if they join the SEC East. This sentiment is actually focused on the Tide’s game against Tennessee. 

If Missouri joined the West, one team would have to realign to the Eastern division.  That team would probably be Auburn. 

Alabama and Auburn would still play as the guaranteed cross-division game under this proposed scenario. Alabama would then lose the Tennessee game under the "new" SEC divisional format. Alabama and Tennessee have played for decades, but that game would probably be lost if Auburn goes to the East. Alabama would like to prevent that from happening.

It seems to make more sense long term for the Tigers to play in the SEC West.  The current SEC East is not as strong as it has been. Missouri could probably better compete there in the short term. However, the SEC West offers better rivalries (Arkansas, Texas A&M) and makes better geographical sense.  Missouri’s permanent crossover game could be Tennessee or Vanderbilt to decrease travel for Missouri fans.

It will be interesting to see where Mizzou ends up.