Parting is such sweet sorrow, then again…
For two of Kansas City’s biggest supporters of Missouri football and basketball – Missouri Tiger Club of KC honcho Joe Zwillenberg and PR wildcat Will Gregory – bailing on the Big 12 for the SEC is simply a no brainer.
"It’s stability," Zwillenberg says. "Oklahoma and Texas tried to get into the Pac 12 but they couldn’t get in, so they came back to the Big 12 and said, ‘We want to be here.’ But dude, it just doesn’t work that way, because you know eventually they’re going to screw you and contracts don’t mean crap nowadays. So I think Missouri’s doing the right thing."
As for not so thinly veiled threats by KU basketball coach Bill Self to schedule other schools in place of the Tigers if they bail, "You know who else won’t have a problem finding non league games to play? Missouri," Gregory says. "I can see how KU and K-State would feel that way because MU leaving would hurt their revenue stream, but any team they add to the Big 12 is not going to mean as much as Missouri. What are they going to add, West Virginia or BYU? I’m not blaming Kansas for our departure, you need to look south for the answer."
That being Texas, with its controversial Longhorn TV network.
"I think (Self’s) just trying to protect himself," Zwillenberg says. "And he has a lot of influence, but I think if Kansas fans wanted it they’d play MU eventually. Look, they’re not invited to this party right now and I’d imagine there are some hurt feelings."
Gregory’s advice to KU: Follow MU!
"I mean, it’s not my fault the SEC doesn’t want Kansas, the SEC is a football conference. I’m sorry that their phone wasn’t ringing but ours was and I’m very excited that we don’t have to live under the thumb of Texas and Oklahoma. It seems like KU would have some leverage with the strength of their basketball team. And I think, like Missouri, they should try and get the best deal that they could."
Despite their obvious allegiances to KC, both agree MU absolutely should take the SEC up on its invitation.
"Oh, you have to go – it’s security," Zwillenberg says. "If you look back and you didn’t go, you’re an absolute idiot."
What about Missouri sacrificing its geographic proximity and the decades old rivalries?
"Well, we have a new basketball coach which will make for a great rivalry with Arkansas," Gregory says. "Which by the way is another border state and so is Tennessee."
How about the prospect of MU becoming an SEC doormat in football going up against Alabama, LSU, etc?
"The last four years we’ve been the 4th winningest school in college football," Zwillenberg says. "We’ve averaged 10 wins a year. So yeah, we’re going to have to step up our game, but when you’re competing against the best, I think you play your best. And we’ll gain recruiting access in states we’ve never been able to recruit in before."
Now a few kind words for the soon to be jilted Kansas teams about to be left behind in the Midwestern dust…
"The Big 12 will stay together as long as Texas and Oklahoma stay but if they leave, it’s over," Zwillenberg says. "I mean, I’m not happy about it; it’s just the way of the world. I don’t want it to happen, but it’s the smart play. And I know for a fact from several sources there will be at least two events here in Kansas City – a football game and definitely a basketball game with KU or it maybe a tournament. If Missouri’s going to go to the SEC, they definitely cannot leave Kansas City on an island. Kansas City cannot be left behind. We have a 119-year rivalry with Kansas that will continue. I would bet my house on it."