Corey DeMoss, News9.com
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Big 12 conference realignment isn't quite over yet. According to a report in the New York Times, Missouri is on the verge of leaving the conference and joining the SEC.
The two sides have been connected for weeks, but nothing definitive had been released since the Big 12 officially added TCU. It seems that is about to change, as a source told the New York Times that Missouri's application to join the SEC is "inevitable and imminent."
More importantly, the same source also said they expect "no problems" with Missouri gathering the nine necessary votes from SEC presidents to join the conference. Missouri's Board of Curators will meet on Thursday and Friday, with private executive sessions scheduled both days.
Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton had also been the chair of the Big 12 presidents, but resigned that position when the school gave him the power to seek conference realignment earlier this month.
If Missouri does leave, it would join Texas A&M as the second school this year to leave for the SEC. It would also become the fourth school to leave the Big 12 in the last two years, joining Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12).
After Texas A&M made its decision official, the Big 12 moved quickly to sign TCU as a replacement and remain at 10 total teams. Both of those moves – A&M leaving and TCU joining – will take place next season, but it is unclear when Missouri's departure would occur.
Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas seemed confident that Missouri's departure would not be instant, telling Sports Illustrated "it wouldn't be for 2012 anyway." But the New York Times report says Missouri still can join the SEC next season, which would bring the conference to an even 14 teams.
Regardless of when the change occurs, Neinas also has made it clear the Big 12 plans to compete with either 10 or 12 teams. Not nine, which is how many would remain if Missouri leaves. The Big 12 likely would seek another replacement to add alongside TCU, which could cause a ripple effect through other conferences.
Several reports have linked the Big 12's possible expansion to BYU, West Virginia, Louisville and Cincinnati. The latter three of those teams all are in the Big East, which finds itself in a very similar situation to the Big 12.
The Big East lost traditional basketball powerhouses Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC, leaving the Big East with only six football programs. The conference has planned to expand, and reports indicate it will extend invitations to between four and six schools.
But many of its target schools reside in the Mountain West and Conference-USA, which just announced a merger that will create one conference with 22 members. That means Missouri's decision could very well determine the actions of three different conferences.
If the Tigers leave the Big 12, the conference likely would reach into the Big East for a replacement. In that case, the Big East would become even more unstable than it already is. That could cause its invited schools to balk at the idea of joining and stay where they are, keeping the amalgamation of the Mountain West and Conference-USA intact.
Conference realignment drama has remained almost constant for much of this football season, with the Big 12 at the center of it. The New York Times report says Missouri could make its decision known as early as Friday, which may kick everything back into high gear again.