Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long caused a bit of a stir soon after Missouri’s entry into the SEC was made official. When asked about divisional alignment, he said Missouri would be in the SEC East “initially.”
We stated yesterday that we frankly didn’t know what the heck he meant by that. Missouri to the East saves all of the SEC’s current rivalries which was a goal of the league in expanding — change as little as possible. Why would the league put Mizzou in the East only to move them back out again… especially if the league isn’t looking to expand to 16 (and it isn’t).
Well now Long has shed some more light on his Missouri views… and it sounds like Long’s “initially” comment was grounded more in hope than fact.
“We would like to see Missouri in the West. We think that makes sense from our standpoint, having them in the West, playing them on a regular basis. … Long-term I hope there is an opportunity to look at Missouri in the West. Again, that’s one school of 14′s opinion, but I hope we look at that over time.”
For every Arkansas who wants Missouri in the West, there’s an Alabama or a Tennessee who wants them in the East in order to protect already-established SEC rivalries.
Missouri — on a map — should be in the West Division. But the ACC and the Big Ten paid no attention to the map in their divisional set-ups. Neither does the SEC now.
If the SEC had used a map in 1992, Auburn would be in the East and Vanderbilt in the West.
Would Missouri and Arkansas be a good rivalry to kickstart? No doubt. From a conference perspective, not at the expense of an existing SEC rivalry.