Posted by Adam Butler on August 8, 2012
“You think you know, but you have no idea.”.
That was the opening line to “Diary” a MTV documentary that was aired in the Aughts and followed celebrities during their everyday lives.
It just as easily could be the 2012 season slogan for SEC newbies Texas A&M & Missouri as they enter the SEC West and SEC East, respectively.
Interestingly, longtime Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel bristled at the slightest opportunity when asked about the chore of joining a conference that has produced the last 6 BCS Champions.
“People act like we’ve been playing a bunch of high school teams,” said Pinkel at SEC Media Days in July. “We’ve played in a pretty big league.”.
On the other hand, new Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, while not backing down, appears to be a man who understands that he has a doubly difficult task of moving from The University of Houston (Conference USA) to TAMU and the SEC.
When asked about his new conference digs, Sumlin seemed to sound a cautionary note to Aggie fans, who should already be aware of the prowess of the SEC after losing to Arkansas in Dallas the last 3 seasons.
“It’s a pretty damn hard league,” Sumlin said during his turn at the podium at SEC Media Days. “How’s that? That’s my assessment.”
To understand the different tones, a peak at the schedule and an understanding of Missouri’s recent success and over-inflated sense of program worth may be instructive.
Missouri has one conference championship (Big 8, 1969) in the last 51 years. To be fair, after a bumpy start in Columbia, Pinkel and Company are 48-19 since 2007 when the Tigers had one of their best teams in school history and thumped Arkansas 38-7 in the Cotton Bowl.
The Tigers also have 3 divisional championships (tied for 1st in the Big 12 North in 2007, 2008 & 2010) in the last five seasons.
That momentum, and the (of late) more inviting SEC East slate seemingly have Mizzou ready for its SEC debut.
But, the Tigers will have to rely on the passing of quarterback James Franklin, a versatile player who wasn’t exactly a great passer before having offseason shoulder surgery that now casts doubt on his SEC readiness.
MU will need Franklin at full strength with a schedule that doesn’t include the SEC West gauntlet, but isn’t a cakewalk, either. In the SEC, MU will host Georgia, Vandy, Alabama and Kentucky.
The key tilt may be a Week 2 matchup with UGA.
If MU loses to the preseason #6 ranked Bulldogs, a five-week stretch of Arizona State, @ South Carolina, @ Central Florida, Vandy and Bama without an open date could easily have Mizzou at 3-5 heading into its open week and wondering if this whole SEC thing was such a good idea.
And, that’s before back-to-back trips to Knoxville and Gainsville in October. A sneakily decent non-conference slate that includes Arizona State, Syracuse and UCF also complicates matters for the Tigers.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M must be wondering if it is still the proverbial red-headed step child. The Ags have a “Welcome to the SEC” schedule that (as a SECW member) includes Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi State as well as Florida and Missouri out of the SEC East.
The potential season killer, though, is a 4-week stretch in which TAMU hosts LSU then sets out on a 3-week roadtrip to Auburn, Starkville and Tuscaloosa in consecutive weeks.
As Voice of the Razorbacks, Chuck Barrett was one to say on his old radio show, Sports Rap, “Maaaaan….that’s Bruuuutal!”.
It Will Be a Good Season for MU if…
The Tigers finish above .500 overall. There. I said it.
It Will Be a Bad Season for MU if…
Mizzou loses most of its swing games, Pinkel hits the bottle again in midseason and the Tigers finish the 2012 slate with 4 or 5 total wins.
It Will Be a Good Season for TAMU if…
The Aggies split the 4-week LSU, @AU, @MSU, and @ Bama gauntlet from October 20th to November 10th.
It Will Be a Bad Season for TAMU if…
A&M loses September “swing” home games with Florida and Arkansas prior to heading into its month-long Trail of Tears.