Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

8+4 = Big Difference Eyes of Expansion into Texas Are upon Conference

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

8+4 = Big Difference Eyes of Expansion into Texas Are upon Conference

Article excerpt

Before University of Missouri football coach Larry Smith even has coached a day, his task to resuscitate the hacking program has taken on a potentially dramatic change.

Uh, Larry, we know we signed you to coach in the Big Eight Conference. But, ahem, well, there's been a change. You'll be coaching in The Dirty Dozen, with Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech.

Beg your pardon? Oh, Larry, you kidder.

Yes, we know Texas A&M eked out that 73-0 victory last year. And that MU is 4-14 against the Longhorns and Aggies - and has lost by an aggregate score of 439-140. But league play doesn't start until 1996!

Football isn't the only MU sport that will face staunch competition in the expanded Big Eight, an alignment that MU athletic director Joe Castiglione said could mean as much as $2 million a year to Missouri if anticipated television deals are finalized.

Also awaiting clarification are scads of details, from how and where a football championship game would be conducted . . . to potential divisional alignments . . . to the name of the conference. The Big Eight has copyrighted the names "Big 12" and "Big 14."

About all that is clear now is the reputations of the incoming programs. Texas and Texas A&M have two of the premiere teams in college baseball. Texas swimming is among the nation's elite - as slackjawed Mizzou saw when it trained in Texas' space-age facilities in December. Texas Tech is the defending national champion in women's basketball.

"For our Olympic development sports, this opens up totally new opportunities," said Castiglione, who added an example. "Track and field - big."

Men's basketball may be the weak link, but charismatic coaches such as Tom Penders (Texas) and Tony Barone (Texas A&M) are energizing their programs.

With the exception of basketball coach Norm Stewart, who has steadfastly declined comment, most MU coaches have embraced the news. …

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