Missouri is going to the SEC. This much we know. How they will do on the field in the SEC is another matter entirely.
In the Tigers recently released commercial, they seem to think playing in the SEC will make them better.
"They say you rise to the level of your competition....that playing great teams only makes you better. We're counting on it."
The following isn't to say they will or won't be better in the SEC. (Obviously the commercial is referring to all sports, but we talk football here so that's really all I'm concerned with. Congrats on winning the Big 12 basketball tournament championship, by the way). But did they even rise to the level of competition - as they like to say - in the Big 12?
The Big 12 just completed its 16th year of existence. Missouri failed to win any Big 12 championships during that time and has yet to appear in a BCS Bowl game. During that time, the Tiger compiled a 63-66 record in Big 12 games including the most recent 2011 season when they finished 5-4 in the league (7-5 overall). Have they been bad in the Big 12? Not really. Have they been great in the Big 12? Not really.
That being said, what success they have had in the Big 12 has been more recent. They finished 2007 with a 12-2 record and followed that up with a 10-4 mark in in 2008. In both seasons they won the Big 12 north division but lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game by scores of 38-17 and 62-21. These were their only two appearances in the Big 12 title game in 16 seasons.
It's also worth noting that the talent level has risen as Missouri of late, even if it hasn't always been reflected in their record. Jeremy Maclin, Ziggy Hood, Sean Weatherspoon, Aldon Smith and Blaine Gabbert have all been first round NFL draft picks. That's five players selected in the first round over the past three drafts after having just 12 others selected in the first round in school history.
As a fan of the Big 12, I hate to see the Tigers head to the SEC for a myriad of reasons. But on the football field, Mizzou hasn't been much better than average over the past 16 years. There's no question they'll have to "Rise to the level" of their competition in the SEC to compete at the top of the conference. They same could have been said for the Big 12, however, and was something that - for the most part - never materialized.
Here's guessing they'll hold their own in the SEC. Does that mean they'll be winning any football conference championships? Not in the short term at least, that is if the past 16 seasons are any indication.
(H/T to Saturday Down South)