MISSOURI JOINS SEC AS CONFERENCE'S 14TH MEMBER

"We're finally out of the Big Texas 12!"

For those who have been living under a rock somewhere, this might come as a bit of a surprise, but the SEC made it's long-awaited announcement Sunday that Missouri will join the conference as its 14th (and final?) member. For 2012. Probably.

"I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.  "Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program.  We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012."

The Big 12 and Ken Starr's lawyers might have something to say about that. The once-again nine-team Big 12 has made it clear that it would like to stay at 10 teams throughout the conference realignment mess -- but West Virginia and the BIG EAST have gone to court over whether the BIG EAST can enforce its 27-month notice requirements exiting the conference. (Which is why none of the Kardashian sisters are members of the BIG EAST.)

Interesting side note: There is no mention of the Tony Barnhart interview on the SEC's now-official announcement website. I'm sure this is an oversight and in no way related to the questions raised about a journalist being a part of an SEC media-relations effort. After all, Barnhart said there's nothing at all wrong with that.

Missouri would appear to be the SEC's last addition in this round of conference expansion, though the league hasn't yet made that announcement. We've been hearing for months that the era of the 16-team superconference is coming eventually, and while it still very well might be, the SEC appears to have worked under the idea of adding Texas A&M and a 14th member before closing the books for now.

Also unanswered in the SEC's official announcement: Any mention of whether the Tigers will join the SEC East or the SEC West. The assumption is that Missouri will join the East, despite this making absolutely no geographical sense, to avoid having to choose between Alabama's highly-regarded rivalries with Auburn and Tennessee. Those questions could be answered at a rally later today to mark the announcement, at least if Slive and Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton are ready to take questions.

But maybe, just maybe the endgame has started on this cycle of conference realignment. The likelihood of that depends at least in part on how well the BIG EAST's expansion plans go. But if all goes well for that league, maybe we can once again focus on the football part of college football.

Read all of Team Speed Kills' conference realignment coverage.

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