In an article that ran on Wednesday in the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette, interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas laid into the University of Missouri and blamed them for the headaches caused with conference realignment. Neinas called Missouri “disruptive” and “selfish” in their move to the SEC.
In the article, Neinas said, “The one thing that gets lost is we’re in this predicament because the SEC invited Missouri,” Neinas said. “But the SEC was willing to play with 13 [rather than 14] next season. We made an offer to Missouri that was financially beneficial to stay for another year. Missouri made the decision not to accept.” Neinas continued, “We had a teleconference call with those in the SEC, Big East, ACC, Mountain West and Conference USA. We all agreed we could save money and avoid litigation if all held serve for 2012-13. All agreed. But Missouri made a very selfish decision. It’s been very disruptive. Missouri gave us notice in November [of 2011] and it’s pretty difficult to move forward then.”
I disagree with Neinas’ assessment that this predicament was caused by the SEC or Missouri. It was poor management by the Big 12 that allowed Texas a great deal (in hopes of keeping the conference together). It nearly backfired when Texas, along with OU, OSU and Texas Tech, were courted by the Pac 12, but it certainly put schools like Texas A & M and Missouri on notice.
I do admire Neinas for his work in bringing stability to the Big 12. He has quite a mess to try to clean up, but he shouldn’t be pointing fingers at Missouri.
Missouri was committed to making the conference work, but the instability left the University no other choice but to look elsewhere. Plus, why would Missouri suffer through another year of the Big 12 for the good of that conference? For example, when was the last time the conference went to bat for Missouri when he came to securing a better bowl game?
To this day, I applaud Missouri for being proactive. When Chancellor Brady Deaton first made a statement saying the University would work to keep the conference strong and viable at ten schools, I think a majority of Mizzou fans were concerned schools like OU and Texas would eventually bolt and Missouri would be left dangling out there with schools like Iowa State and Kansas State…eventually plopping down in a conference like the Mountain West.
At different points throughout this whole saga of conference realignment, eight of the 12 schools were either rumored to be leaving or would eventually leave. Missouri saw the instability of the Big 12 and did what was best for its future.