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SEC has party for Missouri, Texas A&M

    ATLANTA — It's not often Texas A&M fans in Georgia have the chance to pose for photos with Reveille, the collie mascot.
    It's a similar rarity to see Missouri mascot Truman the Tiger high-stepping through the halls of an Atlanta hotel. LSU? Auburn? No, this is a different cat.
    Reveille and Truman have a new conference home, and introductions were in order Wednesday night.
    Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive and the SEC held an official welcoming party for Missouri and Texas A&M, only three months before the Tigers and Aggies open their first football schedules as members of the conference.
    Slive noted that Atlanta hosts the SEC championship game. He said for one night, the city "is Missouri and Texas A&M and we welcome y'all to Atlanta and the Southeastern Conference."
    Among those attending the event were Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, Tigers football coach Gary Pinkel and Aggies football coach Kevin Sumlin.
    Missouri's first SEC game will come at home Sept. 8 against Georgia.
    "It's going to be mammoth," Pinkel said. "It's going to be very historic. It will be our first SEC game and our first SEC home game that we play. It will be wild."
    For Missouri fans in SEC country, this new relationship is a dream come true.
    "Thrilled. It was a wild ride," said Jon Smalley, a 1991 Missouri graduate who lives in Alpharetta, near Atlanta, and attended the party with his 8-year-old son, Wyatt. Each wore Missouri shirts.
    Smalley said he worried as he heard rumors about Missouri joining other conferences.
    "We were supposed to be going to the Big Ten," Smalley said. "Then we didn't know where we would end up. Mountain West? It was scary. Then boom, we ended up in the SEC. I was thrilled. And the SEC East is great, especially, living in Atlanta."