The Southeastern Conference now, officially, has 14 members. When the clock struck midnight central time on July 1, South Carolina got a new permanent cross-division rival and a new team to battle for SEC East championships.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
National Championships: Baseball, 1954; Men’s Indoor Track & Field, 1965
Colors: Old Gold and Black
Mascot: Truman the Tiger
Famous alums: Skip Caray, Dennis Dodd, Sheryl Crow, Kellen Winslow, Brad Pitt, Sam Walton, Pat Forde
South Carolina president Harris Pastides and Missouri chancellor Brady J. Deaton have discussed having a “Battle of Columbias” rivalry and trophy to welcome the Tigers to the SEC East. Nothing has officially been put together, but something could happen by the time the teams meet on the football field September 22, 2012 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Last season under head coach Gary Pinkel, who is entering his 12th season, the Tigers were 8-5 with a 41-24 Independence Bowl victory over North Carolina. Pinkel has led his team to a division championship in football three times - 2007, 08, 10 - in the Big 12 North and the school has 15 conference championships since 1893. Missouri has 16 players currently in the NFL and plenty of famous alumni who are no longer playing football.
Missouri sanctions 20 varsity sports, two of which South Carolina does not sponsor. The Tigers have wrestling and gymnastics. Wrestling is not a varsity sport at any other SEC school while the SEC does sponsor gymnastics as a conference. The only sport that Missouri does not sponsor that the SEC participates in is men’s tennis.
Location: College Station, Texas
National Championships: Women’s basketball, 2011; Equestrian, 2002; Football 1939; Men’s golf, 2009; Men’s outdoor track & field, 2009, 2010, 2011; Women’s outdoor track & field, 2009, 2010, 2011; Softball, 1982, 1983, 1987
Colors: Maroon and White
Mascot: Reveille (a collie)
Famous alums: Rick Perry, Gene Stallings, Lyle Lovett, Chuck Knoblauch, Gary Kubiak
Texas A&M has never lost a game in any sport. Just ask them and they’ll tell you, “We’ve been outscored a few times, but never been beaten.” The Aggies, with new athletic director Eric Hyman, are South Carolina’s new cross-division rival in football beginning in 2013.
The teams will not meet on the football field this season but the rivalry has begun with Texas A&M swiping Hyman almost under the cover of darkness. It took just over 24 hours from when word first began to trickle out that he was a candidate until Hyman turned in his letter of resignation.
Texas A&M was a charter member of the Southwest Conference, which eventually became the Big 12. They’re now part of the first SEC expansion since 1992 when Arkansas and South Carolina joined the conference. One three schools - Suwanee, Georgia Tech, and Tulane - have ever left the SEC.
“We’re definitely entering the best conference in the country,” university president R. Bowen Loftin said. “We’re going to be playing the best teams in the country every year. We’re going to hone ourselves against a whetstone which has been around a while. It has proven itself to be the birthplace of champions. We will be part of that championship series as well.”
On the football field, Texas A&M has 18 conference championships with the first coming in 1917 and the most recent in 1998. Former head coach Mike Sherman led the school to a division title in 2010 but has since been replaced by former Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin this year. Last year, the Aggies were 7-6 with a 33-22 victory over Northwestern in the Meinike Car Care Bowl.
When the SEC presidents approved equestrian as a conference-sponsored competition, every sport that Texas A&M participates in is sanctioned by the conference.