Joining a new group can be tough. You have to prove you belong and fight off accusations that you are not worthy of the group.
Such is life for Missouri since they joined the SEC in 2012.
The Tigers, who were part of the latest conference expansion along with Texas A&M, have done their part to show that they should, in fact, be considered worthy of the SEC, winning back-to-back SEC East titles in 2013-14 and producing seven players who have gone in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft since 2012.
Still, there are detractors, especially after two straight losing seasons in which the Tigers went 3-13 in conference play.
Missouri linebacker Eric Beisel will have none of that talk.
“Some people ask if we belong in the SEC,” Beisel said at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. “Dang right we belong in the SEC.”
Beisel and the Tigers will try to rebound after a disastrous 2016 season in head coach Barry Odom’s first year in charge, but the road is not easy. After the opener against Missouri State on Sept. 2, the Tigers will jump into SEC play with a home game against South Carolina. A non-conference matchup against Purdue is next before hosting an Auburn team that is expected to compete for the SEC title.
Road trips to Kentucky, Georgia, UConn, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas sandwich back-to-back home games against always tough Florida and Tennessee.
It is a long journey back to being a contender for Missouri, but with players like Beisel leading the way, no one should count them out.