The five-year hiatus in the Border War certainly hasn’t cooled hostilities between fierce rivals Kansas and Missouri.
In fact, the animosity between the schools has only intensified as a result of the Jayhawks’ stubborn unwillingness to schedule the Tigers.
In an interview with AL.com published on Wednesday, former Missouri chancellor R. Bowen Loftin blamed Kansas basketball coach Bill Self’s “big ego” for halting the rivalry after the Tigers left the Big 12 to join the SEC in 2012. Loftin said Self nixed a proposed plan to restart the Border War series in football at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
“The problem was a man named Bill Self who made it very clear this wasn’t going to happen,” Loftin told AL.com.
Self fired back on Thursday via text message to the Topeka Capital-Journal. Asked for a response to Loftin’s comments, Self employed his trademark tongue-in-cheek humor to make it clear that he’s only in charge of basketball decisions.
“Tell the ex-Missouri chancellor that I coach basketball, not football,” Self wrote. “That we would never play a game in Arrowhead or even discuss it. It’s too cold. We play our games indoors. But (I) look forward to meeting him someday if he’s ever in Lawrence.”
The hiatus in the Border War has temporarily halted a rivalry with more than 100 years of basketball history. Kansas and Missouri played at least once every year from 1907-2012, with the Jayhawks leading the overall series 172-95.
Kansas’ public stance since 2012 has been that it has no interest in reviving the series.
Jayhawks supporters are often quick to note that Missouri shouldn’t have left the Big 12 if the rivalry with Kansas was so important to the Tigers. Tradition-rich Kansas basketball also doesn’t need Missouri on its non-conference schedule since heavyweights line up every year for the chance to face the Jayhawks.
Restarting the rivalry is more important to Missouri since matchups with Kansas were traditionally the most anticipated games of the year for the Tigers.
Missouri supporters point out that by the end of next college basketball season Kansas will have played the other three programs that left the Big 12 — Texas A&M, Colorado and Nebraska. They don’t understand why the Jayhawks are being so petty freezing them out and depriving fans on both sides of an annual rivalry matchup.
It would definitely be good for college basketball if Self could put his anger aside and agree to restart the rivalry.
Kansas’ 2017-18 non-league schedule includes matchups with Stanford, Washington, Arizona State and Nebraska, all fine games but none that qualify as must-see. It would be a lot more compelling watching the Jayhawks face a Michael Porter-led Missouri team eager to return to national relevance after three consecutive last-place finishes in the SEC.
Historically, the matchups between Kansas and Missouri were typically competitive, intense and above all else fun. Isn’t that what college sports is supposed to be about?
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