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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Report: Missouri to apply to SEC

By Edward Aschoff

It looks like we could be even closer to seeing a 14th school join the SEC.

And the possible 14th school isn't a shocker by any means.

The New York Times reported Monday that Missouri's decision to officially apply for membership in the SEC is "inevitable and imminent."

Missouri has already been allowed to explore conference options outside of the Big 12, and reports have surfaced of late that the school is very interested in the SEC.

An official familiar with school decisions involving conference affiliation told The Times that Missouri officials expect to get enough votes among SEC presidents to become a member of the conference, but the school still needs a formal invite from the league.

Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas had said that he expected Missouri to stay in the league, while SEC commissioner Mike Slive has made it clear that the league isn't openly pursuing any other schools at the moment. Well, according to The Times' source, Missouri could join the SEC as soon as next year.

We all expected the SEC to eventually expand to 14 teams and it looks like it could happen sooner rather than later. Spending one year with 13 schools in athletic competition wouldn't have been ideal, but it also wouldn't have been the end of the world for the conference. Extending that beyond 2012 wasn't likely to happen.

The addition of Missouri would not only increase the league's revenue by stretching out into new TV markets (St. Louis and Kansas City), but it would also increase the SEC's academic standing. With Texas A&M set to join the league next year, the SEC will have three AAU schools, including Florida and Vanderbilt. Missouri would make four AAU schools.

This seems like a pretty good fit for both parties, but don't think it stops here. If Missouri is officially asked to join and accepts, it will be time to talk about even more scheduling issues for the SEC and which division this new group of Tigers will be in. Would they be placed in the West and force Auburn to the East? Would we have three Tiger teams in the wild West?

But it's possible that none of that will matter, as speculation will then turn to the chances of the SEC expanding to 16 teams. Then, we'll wonder if the league will be split into four divisions. The madness surely won't stop any time soon, even if the SEC finally gets its 14th school.