In the summer of 2010, Missouri was telling anyone who would listen that it was a "proud member of the Big 12," even though its desire to leave for the Big Ten was the league's worst-kept secret.
Today, 17 months later, the Tigers are even more proud to be Big 12 expatriates. And who could blame them?
Truth is, the Big 12 only has itself to blame for this disaster, the loss of a second founding member of the Big Eight (Colorado joined in 1947), which turned into Big 12 when four Texas schools came to town.
The departures have happened in those tumultuous 17 months.
The frustration was obvious this past summer as Tigers coach Gary Pinkel repeatedly voiced his anger with the Big 12.
"Obviously, we have some issues in our league. When you have Nebraska leave one year. Colorado leaves. Also now Texas A&M. Three really good football teams," Pinkel said in a September radio interview. "We’ve got some issues. Without question there’s some issues that other leagues don’t have. You don’t hear anything about any other league in the country having these kind of problems."
So, the Tigers packed their bags and went to any other league in the country. A sizeable sect of the fan population might have preferred the Big Ten, but hey, if the SEC needs a 14th, here come the Tigers. The Tigers were looking for a way into the Big Ten last year, but the SEC provided a way out of the Big 12.
A year ago, while Texas and Oklahoma shopped for new leagues and the Big Ten shut the door behind Nebraska, Missouri was left waiting to hear its fate alongside Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor.
Not exactly ideal company. Now, it's leaving to join programs like LSU, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida, who have been glued together since 1932, 25 years after the Big Eight was formed. The SEC added South Carolina and Arkansas back in 1991 and threw Texas A&M and Missouri a helping hand for 2012 to leave a league filled with infighting and departures.
Stability won't be a concern anymore for the Tigers.
Question a cultural fit or the idea that Missouri can compete all you'd like. The most important thing about the SEC for Missouri is that it isn't the Big 12. Nervous meetings and guessing games about the intentions of fellow conference members are over.
Missouri is a better cultural fit in the Big 12, where it will leave behind a century of history and possibly its fiercest rival, Kansas, where the mutual hatred burns 365 days a year. The Big 12 is a better competitive fit, too, with only a pair of historical powers left in the league to climb over to reach big success.
The Tigers, though, are willing to test that culture and competition to get out of the Big 12.
The Big 12, while it was busy sorting itself out, showed Missouri a terrifying future of constantly shifting leagues and a possible future in the Big East, where three members left in the past month and six more appear to be on the way, each a worse geographical and cultural fit than the other. Boise State? Houston?
Can't wait to see you guys at the annual clambake in Rhode Island!
The smell of desperation is among the most unattractive. The Tigers got a whiff and didn't want to tempt the chance at a second.
Missouri's gone. Can you blame it?
Nope, but you can blame the Big 12.