Call me sentimental, call me reactionary, call me maudlin, call me Ishmael, call me anything except late to dinner. But don't look for me to cheer the University of Missouri's migration to the Southeastern Conference.
An unreconstructed traditionalist, I was never convinced that expanding the Big 8 Conference to include four Texas universities (Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor) was in our best interests.
I was perfectly satisfied with Mizzou as a charter member of the Big 7 through my graduation in 1957, but I welcomed the 1958 addition of Oklahoma State to balance an already established conference.
As an alumnus along with my mother, father and two brothers, my memories date back to the '40s when the members of my mother's clan (the Zero House Allens) would gather in Columbia on Thanksgiving Day.
Following the traditional repast, the men would adjourn to what is now *Memorial Stadium to watch the Tigers put a whipping on the Jayhawks.
The advantages derived from membership in the Big 7/8 are readily apparent. The relatively short distances between the schools made travel to away games both easy and affordable, while the similarities of these "Plains states" schools were made to order for rivalries.
Of these rivalries, the most enduring and best known is that between Missouri and Kansas. Now branded the Border Showdown, the Missouri/Kansas football game is the second-oldest college rivalry in the United States in Division I and the oldest west of the Mississippi River.
First meeting on the playing field in 1891, the Tigers and Jayhawks have competed 118 times — the result being a virtual tie (KU has claimed victory in a disputed game, but you know how Jayhawkers lie).
Admittedly, for several years, gridiron competition in the conference was virtually nonexistent. I won't go into the details; however, the Big 7 was known derisively as "Oklahoma and the Little Six." The addition of Oklahoma State University to the mix drew an equally uncomplimentary comparison — "Oklahoma and the Seven Dwarfs."
Sadly, the quest for money, the proliferation of bowl games and the lure of television and the accompanying cash cow, have all but rendered the "student athlete" an endangered species and, for all practical purposes, removed Division I college sports from the amateur ranks.
What was once a pleasant Saturday afternoon outing to cheer on the team of one's choice has fallen victim to TV ratings, BCS rankings and "musical chairs" conference affiliations.
I do understand, albeit grudgingly, the final decision to move to the SEC for a more stable atmosphere than that observed in the increasingly dysfunctional Big 12.
The 2010 bolting of Nebraska and Colorado to the Big 10 and Pac 10 respectively, along with Texas A&M's deserting an apparent sinking ship in 2011 to become a member of the SEC, were hardly a ringing endorsement of Big 12 leadership.
Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, the Big 12 could have survived. It is no secret that the University of Texas and its arrogant posture "I am traveling this road and you are expected to follow," posture is the proximate cause of the ensuing turmoil and resentment among the other schools.
Rather than cut and run, as did Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M and Missouri (on its second attempt), it would appear that strength in numbers favored the 11 other members in a showdown against the Longhorns of the Lone Star State.
Where was the leadership and resolution of moral strength to put Texas in its place? There is the highway, Bevo, fish or cut bait.
That said, I will continue to purchase season tickets to Missouri football and women's basketball games and attend the so-called lesser sports by supporting the Tiger Scholarship Fund at my current level. As a true son of Old Mizzou, I take seriously the obligation to support the Tigers.
Sadly though, I will no be longer be able to travel to road games, and I will sorely miss the traditions of the Border Showdown games against Kansas and the familiar competition with Iowa State, Oklahoma and even Nebraska, and the other former Big 8 squads.
The additional revenue gained from competing in a bigger and more prestigious conference is undoubtedly a plus, but switching athletic venues does little for educational values — the resultant SEC membership is reminiscent of the tail wagging the dog.
J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.