Follow the money? No way…
A review of Southeastern Conference athletic departments that showed newcomer Missouri ranking in the bottom tier in both sports revenues and expenditures was hailed in yesterday’s Kansas City Star as a clarion call for MU to raise more money. That is if it intends to compete on the playing field in its new conference.
In 2011 Missouri took in and spent about $64 million on sports programs. That’s about half of what the top SEC schools raked in – $20 million less than lowly Kentucky even.
To which longtime Missouri supporter Larry Sells says: "I don’t think raising all that money means anything. If they get it, they spend it. Maybe sometime they’ll want to think of themselves as a university instead of a football stadium with a college attached."
Missouri and other schools need to get their priorities straight, Sells says.
"I don’t know that it’s so important to have a $6 million coach as opposed to a $2 million coach," he muses.
As for the thinking that MU will be at a disadvantage in its new conference if it doesn’t up the ante, "A disadvantage in what way?" Sells asks. "You know, I go to a football game because I want to enjoy the atmosphere. Not every team is going to win the championship. It’s not about the best athletes money can buy. It’s about an atmosphere of learning and participation.
"But now it’s not even about participation, it’s about watching and hating. If the other team wins you go trash their busses or threaten them or beat up people at the stadium. And heaven forbid if your team wins – you go out and riot. I’m not saying burning down Lawrence is such a bad thing."
Spoken like a true Tiger, even in jest.
Not that the longtime Uptown Theater main man doesn’t bleed MU black and gold.
"I just want to enjoy (the games)," Sells says. "I’m not a better person because my team wins by some artificial score."
Question is, can Missouri thrive in the SEC sans the big bucks?
"They couldn’t do it in the Big 12," Sells says. "How many times have other teams beat Alabama and LSU in the last couple of years? How many times has Missouri beat Texas? None. How many times has Missouri beaten Oklahoma?"
Put another way…
"Who cares?" Sells quips. "I don’t think money is what makes teams good. I think because they’re good they get more money. And I think Alabama would be fine if they spent $60 million. They don’t have to spend $100 million, they spend it because they’ve got it."
Sells forecast for Missouri in the SEC: "I think they’ll have a similar win-loss record as they have in the past."
Was a mistake for MU to bail on the Big 12?
"Why would it be a mistake?" Sells asks. "The Big 12 is gone. The only reason it remains is the Pac 12 wouldn’t accept Texas. You know, they already destroyed the Southwest Conference and they were about to destroy the Big 12.
"It’s all about big corporate universities. They’re not about education, they’re corporate trainees and they continue to dumb down their students."
All of that said – c’mon – won’t Sells miss the KU-MU rivalry? "No," he says.
"I don’t believe in fat coaches."