Since it started it, maybe Missouri figures it can finish it.
Or as finished as conference realignment can ever be.
Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton got permission Tuesday night from the school's board of curators to seek new conference membership. Nothing surprising there. In case you haven't been following, this would the first move toward Missouri becoming the SEC's 14th team. One problem. No one is sure if the SEC even wants a 14th team at the moment, much less Missouri being that school.
The hand-wringing, then, will continue from BYU to the Big East. Missouri's decision controls the fate of several teams and conferences, including their current one, the Big 12. The fractured league cannot move on with expansion, or even a future, without knowing if Missouri is going to be a participant.
And all indications are Missouri is going to take its good, old time. That was evident when Missouri AD Mike Alden met with the curators for four hours on Tuesday. Perhaps Missouri was contemplating the fact it kicked off this latest round of realignment. Reacting to Dec. 9, 2009 statement that the Big Ten was considering expansion, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon quickly added:
"I want to look at what options the Big Ten may have to offer. This is not something that should be kept on the sports page and treated with the back of the hand. We have an obligation to make our schools as excellent as they can be."
Big 12 nervousness followed. In the next month, Nebraska began talking with the Big Ten. In June, issues came to a head at the 2010 Big 12 spring meetings. Shortly thereafter, Nebraska left for the Big Ten. Colorado went to the Pac-10.
"The [Missouri] governor's remarks got me going. We had to do something, and fast," CU AD Mike Bohn said at the time.
Turns out Missouri wasn't near the top of the Big Ten's list. Now things have come full circle. Everyone can blame Texas for throwing its weight around, but how is Missouri different at this point? It suddenly has leverage. It is holding a league hostage. It is making a perceived money grab.
It could be the fourth school to leave the Big 12 in 16 months -- and it doesn't care. Expect the next few weeks -- if not months -- to be a period of introspection for Brad Pitt's school. Missouri has to decide if it wants to leave its ancestral home. The Big 12 has roots that go back 104 years for Missouri.
It has to decide if it wants to change its culture from a Midwestern school to one with its base in the heart of Dixie. Does it want to be Bubba or Brad? Does it want to be at the center the Big 12 or a western outpost in the SEC?
There is no right answer. The difference in revenue is negligible. Missouri could stay in the Big 12 and be secure at least the next six years. But the SEC would provide long-lasting security. Missouri football is an above middle-of-the-road program in the Big 12. It would be a middle-of-the-road program in the SEC.
But this isn't about football. This is about emotion, which can be a dangerous thing. That's why Deaton merely has permission at this point. The last two presidents to get similar permission from their boards of regents, came to different conclusions. Texas A&M went to the SEC. Oklahoma, eventually, stayed in the Big 12.