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New SEC schools Missouri, Texas A&M should be scared spitless

jim-millerThe most interesting impression to come out of Southeastern Conference football media days last week was not the faux humility of the 4,000-pound favorites or the defensive blustering of the cellar-dwellers. No, it was the nice-nice deference shown by the conference's two newest members, Missouri and Texas A&M. They said all the right things about how happy they are to be members of the nation's top college football conference and about how they hope to earn the respect of its long-time members and fans.

 

     But what I heard between the lines was that Mizzou and the Aggies should be scared spitless. Did they know the Southeastern Conference has won the past six national titles? If they didn't before Media Days, that fact came up regularly last week. The questions were asked forward, backward and sideways to the representatives of Missouri and Texas A&M, who left the Big 12 to join the SEC. By the end of the first day, only Dr. Seuss could have found a new, unique way to ask the Tigers and Aggies about their feelings on joining the nation's premier football conference.

     The coaches paid their due deference to the SEC. "We understand that it's going to be a difficult but exciting year," Aggies Coach Kevin Sumlin said. Missouri's Gary Pinkel echoed: "When you go into a league like this, you're new, you have to prove yourself, earn respect." If either coach looked at last year's final polls, they know their teams were listed among "others receiving votes" along with SEC members Auburn, Florida and Mississippi State. However, floating high above them were such SEC powerhouses as Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia.

     A look at their 2012 schedules suggests Commissioner Mike Slive wanted to welcome his new members by playing the league's tail-enders who have not yet been mentioned. Missouri will play Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, along with fellow newcomer A&M, but they will also get a look at what they bargained for with games against Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The Aggies, meanwhile, have it a bit tougher with Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Auburn of the SEC's middle-earth while also facing Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina and Florida.

     So it was appropriate that Mizzou and the Aggies were making nice-nice when they know they stand to get their ambitious young fannies kicked to the curb in football. It might be a different case when basketball season begins, but nobody outside of Lexington cares about hoops right now. But right now all they need to see is LSU still trying to poach every Nick Saban recruit they can, and they will get the idea that the deference they showed at media days won't help them when the whistle blows.

 


Jim Miller’s new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com

(Photo: Jim Miller)

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