This ESPN story reports that the University of Oklahoma's athletic director is confident that the Big 12 will be prepared to move quickly to replace Missouri, should it follow through with any plans it might have to join the SEC.
But it's the comment from another Big 12 official that caught my attention.
"West Virginia has better football than Missouri, better basketball than Missouri, a better budget than Missouri and more passion among its fans than Missouri. They're better, anyway you turn 'em. The travel's not good but that's it."Obviously, West Virginia is one of the schools being discussed as a replacement for Missouri.
Setting aside the bluster associated with the comments, the larger question is whether they come close to the truth. Let's acknowledge that comparing any two schools from different conferences can be difficult; however, let's attempt to do just that.
I'm limiting this comparison to football and men's basketball because they are mentioned by the unnamed administrator. I am not accessing budgetary records to compare the "budget" remark.
West Virginia has played college football for 119 seasons (including the current one), and it has won 696 games. Missouri is in its 118th season of college football, and it has won 625 games. The Tigers did win the national championship in 1960, completing an 11-0 season under coach Dan Devine.
Neither school has won the NCAA men's basketball championship, although West Virginia was the runner-up in 1959 and made the Final Four in 2010. Missouri has never made it to the Final Four. West Virginia and Missouri have almost identical records in the tournament -- WVU is 24-23 and Mizzou is 22-23.
So, do the numbers relating to the football and men's basketball teams validate the West-Virginia-is-better argument? Based on the numbers alone, yes. But again let's remember that comparisons such as the one I am making are fraught with problems.
Nevertheless, the unnamed administrator's point that WVU is an improvement on Missouri can be said to have merit.