Barring someone having pulled off the new Guinness world's record for Most Convincing April Fool's prank in late October, the SEC is (or was) poised and ready to welcome Missouri to the league this coming (or past) Monday--as an introductory statement dated Oct. 22 leaked on the conference's own website made clear late Thursday night.
The statement includes references to an announcement yet-to-be made by Mike Slive, links to related introductory Missouri content, and July 1, 2012 specified as the date in which the Tigers would officially join the league. As of 11:40 ET Thursday night, the page appeared on the official "SEC Digital Network" site like this:
The page and all associated content had been removed by 11:55 ET.
If it wasn't already safe to assume Missouri was headed to the SEC before, it certainly is now. The July 1 date would also corroborate the news dropped by Slive Thursday that the league was still aiming for the Tigers to join before the 2012 football season.
The questions now are: if the announcement had been planned last Monday, what kept the SEC and Missouri from releasing it? And now that we know Missouri's acceptance is a mere formality, how long until the league (and the Tigers) drop the pretense?
The statement reads in part:
Given the ever-changing conference paradigm over the past year, the Southeastern Conference has continued to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining its stature as one of the nation’s premier conferences by welcoming the University of Missouri as the league’s 14th member, Commissioner Mike Slive announced Monday.For a look at the full webpage, click here.
Missouri joins Texas A&M University as the league’s two new institutions who will begin full membership on July 1, 2012. It is the first expansion of the SEC membership since Arkansas and South Carolina joined the conference in 1992 ...
Geographically, it is a natural fit as the state of Missouri touches more states (Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee) that currently are home to an SEC institution than any other state that is not in the league’s previous 13-member footprint. Like the majority of the cities in the SEC, Columbia, Mo., is a college-centered town with a metropolitan population of 164,283, making it the fifth-largest city in the state of Missouri ...
Missouri is one of only 35 public U.S. universities invited to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). It will become the fourth SEC school that is part of the AAU, joining Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
Monday’s announcement marks just the fourth time in the history of the conference that the SEC will expand its membership. In a landscape that has seemed ever-changing in recent years, the SEC has exemplified stability as 10 of its original 13 members remain.
UPDATE: An SEC spokesman has described the appearance of the pages as a "web vendor mistake" and stated there is "no agreement" between the league and Missouri.