Even though Missouri is the "yankee" member to the North of the SEC's geographic namesake, Missouri makes sense as an member program for multiple reasons.
The BCS Conference Realignment focuses on Missouri and the SEC, today, while it may move to another conference and another program, tomorrow.
As long as the talk is about the Missouri Tigers, one should look at the reasons why they make sense as an addition to the Southeastern Conference, while overlooking the cultural and geographic differences that seem to be at complete opposite ends of the spectrum.
The following four reasons highlight the top reasons why Missouri's inclusion into the SEC is an exciting and profitable proposition.
Missouri brings a new market to the SEC, which includes both St. Louis and Kansas City. Making inroads into what would, otherwise, be a market dominated by the Big Ten or Big XII will help the SEC solidify its Midwestern viewership and add to its already lucrative television revenue.
The market is rich with viewership, which means more profits for the SEC and more profits for CBS. While other conferences are chasing additional television revenues, the SEC may as well get their additional piece of the pie, as well.
The geographic area provides an additional fanbase, as well, that may otherwise stay neutral when forced to watch unimpressive Big Ten programs Illinois and Northwestern. Missouri offers Illinois football fans a real alternative to viewing otherwise boring matchups.
And, the citizens of Illinois can feel comfortable that Missouri will be competitive while the nearest SEC programs, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, simply aren’t.
Adding Missouri means more revenue, and more revenue means happy SEC presidents.
Missouri brings a strong basketball program to the SEC mix in a conference that has struggled to gain a consistent foothold on the nation’s second most important collegiate sport. With Missouri, the SEC can begin to assert more consistent strength in the tournament versus relying solely on Kentucky to do so for the conference, while all others shine momentarily before fading away, like Florida and Tennessee
Before departing to coach the Arkansas Razorbacks where he was an assistant under Nolan Richardson, Mike Anderson had the Tigers consistently in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, continuing the success he had at UAB.
The Tigers are now coached by Frank Haith, who hopes to maintain the momentum built by Anderson. A great recruiter and proven coach who turned the Miami Hurricanes into winners, Haith has a chance to make an immediate impact in the SEC.
While Missouri football is an afterthought for many in the SEC, it’s a strong program led by head coach Gary Pinkel. In the past four seasons, the Tigers have had three 10 or more win seasons. Pinkel should be excited to test his mettle against staunch SEC competition while beating up on regional foes Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
Look for the beginning of a heated rivalry between Missouri and Arkansas, as well, not only due to their neighborly relationship but also because the winner will take home the plunders of Missouri’s fertile recruiting ground. Will the Razorbacks characterize a northern rival as “those damn Yankees”?
While some may view the Tigers as the SEC’s attempt to pad its victories, don’t expect Missouri to lay down, especially coming from a conference that includes Oklahoma and Texas.
The geographic territory won by the SEC by way of adding Missouri means additional recruiting exposure in not only Missouri, but also Northern Arkansas, Kentucky, and portions of Iowa and Illinois for the nation’s most competitive conference.
Adding new recruiting territory means diminishing the potential for any other conference to supplant a conference that has won seven of the 13 total BCS championships, including the past five BCS titles.
St. Louis and Kansas City boast significant high school football powerhouses, like Desmet and Rockhurst. Furthermore, the farms of Illinois and Iowa add their own talent to the mix as the SEC searches for corn-fed offensive lineman.
With Missouri in the picture, hosting some of the SEC’s best, expect the rich to get richer as they merely stock the cupboards with even more speed and strength.
What will these Midwestern boys do when they see cheerleaders from Ole Miss and LSU for the first time? They’ll probably exclaim, “Sign me up!!!”