After Texas A&M became the 13th member of the SEC, it was never a question of if but when a 14th school would join the conference.The preference was to always to add an eastern team to balance the divisions, but options became increasingly limited.
ACC schools like Virginia Tech and Florida State were ruled out as possibilities after the conference raised its exit fee to $20 million. West Virginia was denied SEC membership and is now off to the Big 12.
Missouri may not be the first choice of many SEC fans to join the conference, but over the past couple of weeks, it became the most likely option. Most of the controversy surrounding the Tigers addition was speculation that they would go to the SEC West and Auburn would be moved to the SEC East.
That could have put the annual Alabama-Tennessee game in jeopardy and would have presumably made the Iron Bowl a permanent inter-division SEC game.
Instead, the Missouri Tigers are going to play against the likes of the Gators and Bulldogs on a regular basis rather than the Tigers of Auburn or LSU. Some traditionalists should be happy that no current schools had to switch divisions. The question now is whether SEC teams will now play nine conference games instead of eight.
While putting Missouri in the SEC East had a lot to do with preserving current rivalries, it also makes them the best candidate to move to the SEC West if the conference ever goes to 16 teams in the future.
Conference expansion is a never-ending game, and it's not out of the question that the SEC could have 16 members if the superconference idea persists. If the conference ever wants to reach that total, moving Missouri would give the Western division eight schools and allow two more schools to join the Eastern division.
Will Missouri eventually move to the western division in a 16-team SEC?
Virginia Tech and Florida State may be in the ACC for now, but if the SEC ever wants to expand again those schools will be at the top of their list.
The SEC is likely to stay at 14 schools for now, but conference expansion talk is unlikely to stop anytime soon.