Before the Pac-10 decided to get in on the expansion act, Missouri seemed like the Big Ten's preferred target for expansion out of the Big 12. But somewhere along the line Nebraska jumped ahead of Mizzou, with the Huskers expected to announce their decision to leave for the presumably greener pastures of the Big Ten on Friday. And SB Nation's eminent Tigers bloggers at RockMNation want to know why exactly:
In my eyes, Nebraska has one major card to play, and that's football tradition. I don't want to overstate the importance of that, particularly to the Big 10's expansion plans, which appear to centered around football. But does Nebraska's previous success make it a better candidate for the Big 10 than Missouri?
As I understand it (and granted, I have not researched it that thoroughly), Missouri has an edge in academics, overall athletic department success (i.e. in recent years, Missouri football + basketball trumps Nebraska football + basketball, and Mizzou has found success in "non-revenue sports" such as gymnastics, wrestling, women's soccer, softball and baseball), scholar-athletes (Mizzou was just ranked second in APR in the Big 12, behind only Texas) and media markets (St. Louis/Kansas City, even with KC in decline, should trump Omaha/Lincoln).
The answer is pretty simple: it comes down to football and money (not in that order). No other sport compares to football in terms of the cash it brings in. It's not even particularly close. Otherwise, Kansas would be getting
more some love from either the Pac-10 or Big Ten, and not be left in super-conference limbo. And academics...well athletic directors and school presidents love to pontificate about how every move they make comes with the student-athletes and the classroom in mind (i.e., lame excuses about why a college playoff is simply unfeasible), but it's all a rather transparent effort to cloak the naked money grab that is major college athletics. Academics has nothing to do with expansion.
Nebraska simply has a better football brand than Missouri. Sure, the Chase Daniels era saw something of a resurgence in Mizzou's fortunes on the gridiron, but casual fans associate "Nebraska" with "good college football" far more than they do "Missouri". That's why, despite Missouri's bigger television markets, the Big Ten prefers their rivals to the north with the more storied program.