Somehow, one of the most popular topics in the SEC these days is debating whether the Missouri Tigers belong in the conference or not.

It’s been five years since Mizzou left the Big 12 for the SEC, and it’s been a roller-coaster ride so far, with impressive highs and equally incredible lows.

However, a popular trend among fans and media members recently is saying that the Tigers don’t belong in the conference, which is, frankly, ridiculous.

Mizzou has had a couple of rough years on the gridiron, sure, but the Tigers’ case for remaining in the SEC is as strong as any other school’s.

As Mizzou prepares for its sixth season in the SEC East, here are five reasons why the Tigers belong in the best conference in the country:

SEC East titles in 2013 and 2014

In only the second and third seasons the Tigers were in the SEC, they won division titles!

In fact, since joining the conference in 2012, Mizzou has more division titles than Georgia (which won the 2012 SEC East crown), Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt combined.

Florida has won the past two titles and looks like a much safer bet than the Tigers to claim the division championship this year, but it’s incredible how quickly SEC fans have forgotten how dominant Mizzou was as recently as 2014.

Several other SEC schools (Texas A&M included) would kill to have a two-year stretch like the Tigers did shortly after joining the conference.

Three first-round draft picks

Since joining the SEC, the Tigers have had three players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, and they’ve all been defensive linemen — Sheldon Richardson in 2013, Shane Ray in 2015 and Charles Harris in 2017.

The Aggies have also done well for themselves since joining the SEC, producing seven first-rounders in the last five years, but Mizzou has more first-rounders than South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Vanderbilt combined and the same number as Tennessee.

No one is saying all those other schools don’t belong in the SEC, so it doesn’t make sense that the Tigers face questioning of their credentials.

They’ve held their own against the East

Since 2012, the Tigers have an acceptable record against their SEC East foes, going 14-16.

Here’s how Mizzou has fared against each of the other six teams in the division:

  • Vs. Kentucky: 3-2
  • Vs. Vanderbilt: 3-2
  • Vs. Tennessee: 3-2
  • Vs. South Carolina: 2-3
  • Vs. Florida: 2-3
  • Vs. Georgia: 1-4

Those records aren’t great, by any means, but other than their efforts against Georgia, the Tigers have done decently well against their division opponents.

In fact, Mizzou went 5-1 in SEC East play in both 2013 and 2014 — the years the Tigers advanced to the SEC Championship Game.

They’re good at developing overlooked recruits

The most famous example of Mizzou developing an overlooked player into a star is former 2-star (yes, 2-star) DE Charles Harris, who was just selected by the Miami Dolphins with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

But, even going back to their Big 12 days, the Tigers have had to do more with less talent than the big schools in their conference.

This season, Mizzou will have one of the conference’s best offenses, led by a rare 4-star recruit in QB Drew Lock, a 3-star RB in Damarea Crockett and 3-star WR J’Mon Moore, not to mention a slew of overlooked offensive linemen.

Only a few schools can keep pace with Alabama when it comes to signing 5-star players, so the SEC needs teams that can develop less-heralded players and turn them into giant-slayers. Mizzou has proven more than capable of doing that.

The SEC needs an instigator like Eric Beisel

While most other players were busy not saying anything controversial at SEC Media Days this week, Mizzou LB Eric Beisel went in a totally different direction, taking every opportunity he got to jab Arkansas.

Though the Mizzou-Arkansas rivalry may be a bit contrived and will never reach the level of the Mizzou-Kansas rivalry, Beisel is doing what he can to make fans pay attention to the two often-overlooked schools:

No other SEC player is causing such a stir with a rival, so Beisel’s honesty and fiery attitude were a welcome change for media members in Hoover, Alabama, this week.

Plus, let’s be real, if the other SEC schools didn’t have Mizzou to kick around, what would they do with themselves? When forced to face the facts, even the other 13 SEC fan bases would agree that the Tigers belong in the best conference in the country, so let’s put this silly storyline to rest once and for all.