Missouri-to-SEC exposé a window into realignment melodrama

For all the posturing and rumor-mongering surrounding conference realignment, the actual movement between leagues hasn’t really lived up to the hype. Sure, we’ve seen some significant shifts, with name programs like Nebraska and Texas A&M changing affiliation. The superconferences we were all promised, however, remain as theoretical as a genuine laugh in American Reunion.

And, seriously, no matter how cool you think the future of college sports could be, realignment in and of itself certainly doesn’t merit all of the pages viewed and ink spilt covering it. David Briggs of the Columbia Tribune published a fantastic investigative piece today that encapsulates why we really can’t get enough of conference expansion.

Briggs sifted through voluminous e-mail correspondence related to Missouri’s move to the SEC last fall to put together a rich picture of the maneuvering behind the Tigers’ defection from the Big 12. The article reads like a soap opera script – if the characters were all middle-age, male bureaucrats.

It also confirms all of our suspicions about the back-stabbing and duplicity driving the entire realignment process. Power, money, ego, betrayal – it’s all there. Taken as a whole, no one involved in the entire saga comes off looking looking good, and there’s plenty of childishness and proverbial “butthurt” for all the major players to share in.

Briggs’ story also serves as a microcosm of the organized chaos that passes for leadership in college athletics. There’s no Roger Goodell or David Stern sitting on high to arbitrate disputes and oversee teams changing leagues. Instead, we’re treated to petty, protracted turf wars fought in boardrooms and negotiated through the press.

Fans will undoubtedly project their own narrative on the article – Mizzou’s leaders were talking out of both sides of their mouths; David Boren is a clown; it’s all Texas’ fault. Whatever. That assumes there’s a logic to any of it.

We’re watching suits in a schoolyard, and the adults are on strike.

A couple other observations:

*Who was calling the shots in Columbia during all of this? Reading through Briggs’ article, it’s hard to tell. Presumably, it would be Chancellor Brady Deaton, but it sounds like there were an abundance of cooks in the kitchen at Mizzou.

*Regardless of whether or not you think the SEC is the right place for Missouri, can you blame the Show Me Staters for wanting out of that mess?

*Is it me, or was that e-mail from an unidentified “New York Times reporter” to Oklahoma President David Boren incredibly unprofessional? To my knowledge, there was only one reporter at the Grey Lady covering expansion.

*At some point the leaders of the Big 12 will finally figure out how foolish they look by letting all of this play out in public, right?

Which brings us to…

*These people clearly don’t understand how to use e-mail.