To be the best, you have to beat the best. Or, in some cases, run from the best.
When Lincoln University decided it wanted back in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in 2010, there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered. The conference has been tops in Division II for more than a decade and Lincoln football didn't seem to fit the equation.
But in just their third year back, the Blue Tigers are already out the door in football.
After this year, the Blue Tigers will compete in the Great Lakes Valley Conference for football, a significant step down in competition.
The argument is twofold. If Lincoln continued to stay in the MIAA, it would get creamed week in and week out. The win total for the Blue Tigers would likely never go up and they would continue to get swallowed up by the likes of Northwest Missouri State and Central Missouri, which have the tradition, money and backing to support a top-level program each and every year.
The move to the GLVC means Lincoln's record will be better (they will win conference games next year, and that's a fact). That looks better on paper. It looks better to recruits. It looks better to fans and alumni. But they might not be better football players.
I say that not to be critical. Lincoln is getting better as a team even though the results don't show it. As Lincoln beat writer Adam Stillman pointed out to me, the Blue Tigers have closed the gap in most statistical categories so far this season. The first two weeks of the season they were competitive and have shown fortitude at times on offense.
I do think this is a good move for Lincoln. The Blue Tigers are getting better, but the gap is so wide, they may never get past one or two wins every season. This gives the Blue Tigers a chance to compete against teams of similar nature.
My alma mater (Truman State) bolted from the MIAA last year after not sniffing success in football since around the time I was born. The Bulldogs won their first GLVC game 33-0 and their second 45-7.
Maybe Lincoln is ready to follow that path.
Change is hard. I've learned that in more ways than one this week. It's difficult for me to believe these are my last words that will appear in the News Tribune.
I've enjoyed every last bit of the last few years working at the News Tribune, mostly because of the people I've worked with and met out in the community.
I recall a discussion I had with a coworker last week as an example. I don't remember a day when I didn't want to go to work. Not many people can probably say that.
Tom Rackers, Tony Hawley and Adam do an outstanding job of covering local sports in mid-Missouri. Unless you've ever stepped inside a newsroom, you have no idea the challenges people in this industry face, especially sports reporters. They are the best at what they do and have a passion for serving Jefferson City and the surrounding communities.
While I am very excited to turn the page into a new chapter of my life, I won't soon forget the previous one. Thanks for reading.