Time Out: Scott Rabalais column for July 1, 2012

Texas A&M, Missouri have work to do in the Southeastern Conference

By Scott Rabalais

Advocate sportswriter

Oh, it’s a happy day from College Station to Columbia, for sure.

Reveille VIII, the Texas A&M collie, is barking for joy. Truman the Tiger, Missouri’s costumed mascot, is making mad, silent movie gestures as costumed mascots do to indicate their glee.

Sunday is the day that A&M and Mizzou officially join the Southeastern Conference. Some early Independence Day fireworks would not be out of line.

Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Broadway of college athletics. The Big Top. Vegas.

Now, be prepared to earn your dues.

Check back with us, Mizzou, after you host Alabama in football Oct. 13 — from the training room. Send us a tweet, A&M, after you play Kentucky in men’s basketball. Tell us if you still hear the rims rattling.

And Aggies, you can tell the Missouri Tigers to expect lots of rowdy LSU fans to invade their baseball venue come the last weekend in March. You know the drill.

You know how to get to Carnegie Hall, right? Practice.

Well, that bandbox seats a paltry 2,804. If Carnegie Hall were in Knoxville instead of Manhattan, it would seat 82,804, with suites, a club level and people barbecuing on the sidewalk.

You know how to get to the top of the conference standings here? Funding. Bigger and better. More is more and much more will keep you in the hunt. Maybe. Example: By 2014, LSU will have a 100,000-seat football stadium that will still make it just the third-largest boom box in the conference.

No doubt A&M and Missouri bring much to the table. The Aggies, under former LSU track coach Pat Henry, won six NCAA titles from 2009-11 — until LSU’s women and Florida’s men stopped their run this year. Missouri men’s basketball has undoubtedly the best tradition of any program never to reach the Final Four.

But until South Carolina came up short of a third straight College World Series title last month, the SEC was reigning national champion in the big three sports. Yes, LSU got stomped by Bama in the BCS title bout, but it took another SEC team to administer the KO.

Do you see what you’ve gotten yourself into here?

Certainly A&M and Missouri will elevate their games across the board. The Aggies are tripping over deep-pocketed alumni in a talent-rich state and Missouri has already announced plans to expand its football stadium (just make sure those new suites have sweet tea on tap).

But just so you do know, this conference measures everything by football (ahem, six straight BCS titles, wanna see the rings?). In that sport, guys, you have a gap to close. A&M, the last time you won the Big 12 was 1998. Missouri, the last time you won a conference was 1969, when you shared the Big 8 title with Nebraska.

They tell us Kansas was your most hated rival in those Big 12/Big 8 days.

Well, you’re not in Kansas anymore, Tiger.

Enjoy the weekend. It gets real in about two months when Georgia comes calling.