Monday, November 7, 2011

KU shouldn't let jealousy get in the way of college sports' greatest rivalry

There was plenty of vitriol and hate coming out of the Kansas City sports-scene this past weekend, and astonishingly, it had nothing to do with the full sweep of losses by the area college teams Saturday or the letdowns by the Chiefs and Sporting Kansas City Sunday.

No, it came from the backlash of the under-the-radar announcement/celebration/pep-rally made by the University of Missouri late Sunday of the school's intentions to (finally) leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.

We've all had time to come to grips with just what this move would mean. Hell, the original report of the SEC's interest in MU surfaced more than two months ago. Still, no one knows for sure what to think.

Everyone out of the Mizzou camp, save for Brady Deaton and Mike Alden, seem to be a bit confused and split emotionally — especially those with ties to Kansas City.

Most on the Kansas side are simply in denial.

But one thing is for sure:  It'd be a damn shame if jealousy and bitterness got in the way of the continuation of college sports' greatest rivalry.

We have to back it up here, though, because it was mostly jealousy and bitterness that drove Mizzou to leave its home conference of over a century and potentially turn its back on its rivalry with KU in the first place. The Mizzou football program has never quite gotten over its BCS Orange Bowl snub in favor of KU in 2008 — a season in which Mizzou handed Kansas its lone loss and in doing so, made the Jayhawks the beneficiaries of not having to face the Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 title game.

Kansas has been mostly irrelevant in football ever since, but none of that matters now. Just so long as the school whose top fans and alumni deep down wish it were their university — and not their rival's — moving onward and upward get their parting shots in before the wake settles.

The truth is, an annual non-conference football contest at Arrowhead Stadium makes sense for all parties involved. For KU, whose football tickets are currently being sold via Groupons, it helps financially and with fan-interest. For Mizzou, it does the same, all-the-while keeping some sort of presence in the Kansas City market.

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has made it clear Mizzou is all but dead to him and that he's looking out for the best interest of his program only.

"We couldn’t care less what Missouri wants," the coach has stated. "If in fact they want to play us, it will be strictly determined if we want to. It will not be determined by other people, because I’ll be honest, the majority of Kansas fans don’t give a flip about playing Missouri."

Okay. But for a public representative of a university that has been openly bitter of its rival school's decision to do what's best for its own brand, Self is sure quick to remind all parties involved that his school is capable of doing the same.

And hypocrisy aside, it's mighty presumptuous of Coach Self to determine that Jayhawk-country doesn't "give a flip" about its interstate rivalry.

We know Missouri does. In fact, Mizzou officials have stated publicy their desire for the rivalry to continue in both sports, possibly by hosting an invitational basketball tournament in Kansas City during non-conference play.

But that's impossible until the people calling the shots in Lawrence pull their heads out of their asses.

My hope is that they do. If it's Missouri's arrogance that may lead to the eventual fall of the Big 12, it will be Kansas' that will lead to the fall of college sports' greatest rivalry.


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