Hello, SEC brethren, meet your new roomie

jjarrett@islandpacket.com
jjarrett@beaufortgazette.com
November 6, 2011 

Any day now, it seems, the University of Missouri -- my alma mater -- will be announced as the 14th team in the Southeastern Conference.

This won't come as a surprise at this point. The move has been in the works for a couple of months, with every twist and turn hijacking the 24-hour news cycle. But I'll venture to guess that some of you weren't fully aware of Missouri's existence -- the college or the state -- before the Tigers were tied to the SEC.

So I'm going to give you a quick primer, kind of an opportunity to move past the getting-to-know-you phase so we can take this relationship to the next level.

First things first: You can call us Miz-uhr-ee, Miz-uhr-ah or simply Mizzou. We're really not particular. But please leave the "misery" jokes to the lame and unoriginal (like Kansas fans).

You might be wondering how in the world Missouri, which lies to the west of the Mississippi River and far enough north that it borders Iowa and Nebraska, could come to join the Southeastern Conference.

Well, we also share borders with Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. But more important, we have a whole bunch of alumni who live in Kansas City and St. Louis and own televisions.

Geography and TV markets aside, we're not all that different from a cultural standpoint.

We say y'all -- or at least some of us do -- though not quite as often as all y'all.

We love barbecue, especially the stuff from Kansas City, and we've got Branson, which would probably qualify as the country music capitol of the world if not for Nashville.

We understand how to make proper sweet tea, but unless you're in the portion of the state known as the bootheel, you probably won't get it by default. Simply ordering iced tea is likely to result in taking an unsuspecting sip of the unholy, unsweetened version that we in the South know was never meant for human consumption. Don't say I didn't warn you.

We do bring some complications to the conference, unfortunately.

See, we're from Columbia. I'm sure you can see why this might be a problem, but there's a simple fix. Much like y'all refer to Columbia, S.C., as "Cola," we affectionately call our hometown "CoMo." Problem solved.

We're also the Tigers, which is going to get confusing when we play Auburn and LSU -- not to mention a nightmare for the poor guys covering the games. Not much we can do about that.

But we also bring some pretty nice perks. We're one of only 35 public universities in the nation who are members of the Association of American Universities, so we're pretty smart, on the whole. Not Vanderbilt smart, mind you, but pretty smart.

Our No. 1 export is journalists, thanks to our world-class journalism school (or so they told us). Seriously, there are nine Mizzou journalism graduates in The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette newsroom alone. If you thought the SEC was the media darling of college conferences, just you wait.

And here's the best part for y'all: In most sports, we're good enough to compete, and occasionally make the SEC look good, but we're not much of a threat to win any conference championships or anything.

Unless you want to challenge us to a wrestling match, but I wouldn't advise that any more than I'd advise drinking unsweetened tea.

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