96 Days: Let’s Talk Missouri

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I’ll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missouruh!

Hmmm, that’s weird.

I just tried to go to www.firejefflong.com and apparently that site doesn’t exist yet. Someone get me a web developer!

That pretty much sums up my feelings whenever I hear about the resumption of the Border War. In fact, when KU and MU announced the resumption of a basketball series back in October of 2019, I wrote this:

… congratulations to Missouri. You have now officially won the Border (Cold) War. You get all you’ve wanted since 2012, and Kansas gets bupkis.

I’m with Admiral Kirk on this one:

Clearly, my feelings have not changed, and now the news has gotten even worse. The two football programs have agreed to four games, alternating home sites, in 2025/26 and 2031/32. Here’s my (bold) prediction: Neither Les Miles nor Jeff Long will be at Kansas when that first game is played.

Although the matchup favors Missouri on paper – perhaps heavily – I say, not so fast, my friend. For being a “football school,” Missouri has just a 56-55-9 edge in the series. Don’t listen to the haters who say the series is actually 57-54-9. They’re wrong. KU and the NCAA show the same record, while Missouri and the Big 8 show the incorrect record.

And that 56-55-9 record is after the Tigers won the last three installments as well as five of the last six. However, the two schools have split the last 22 (and 28) overall meetings. MU’s best team ever lost to KU in 1960, while KU’s best team ever lost to MU in 2007. So historically, it’s been an interesting series. And while we’re all aware of the doldrums in which Kansas has drifted since 2010, I think it’s notable that Missouri (a football school) has just two winning seasons since 2014.

Some of you probably remember the Tony Sands game. That was a bit before my time, but wow. What a performance.

I will never forget my first Missouri game, in 2001, a back-and-forth 38-34 Kansas loss that sealed my disdain for those across the border.

I will never forget the Missouri fan in section 4 of Memorial Stadium who, in 2003, was loud and obnoxious all day until tucking his tail between his legs and silently walking out to cheers and jeers after Bill Whittemore punched it in with just under 4 minutes left to ice the game for Kansas.

I will never forget 2005, when Kansas stifled Brad Smith all day long in a 13-3 victory.

Man, 2007 was a tough pill to swallow. But at least we got some measure of revenge a year later.

Those games meant something. Not only were they games between conference foes, but when the (football) series ended, it was the second-most played rivalry in D1. And yes, it traced its history all the way back prior to the Civil War and Bleeding Kansas. Now, what do we have? A cash grab by greedy administrators resulting in a watered-down version of a once-bitter rivalry.

I would still argue the rivalry is quite bitter in the KC area, but how much longer will that last? Incoming college freshmen this year (2020) were about 9 years old the last time these two played in football. By the time they meet up again in 2025, the freshmen entering school that year are just now out of diapers. So sure, us older folks will likely feel the flames reignite. But will the students really care?

Missouri made its bed when it left the conference, and Kansas forced them to lie in it. As recently as 2017, Bill Self was quoted as saying that “… our position hasn’t changed.” In two years, Self went from saying that KU could make more money playing a random school at home to now playing four of six matchups with the Tigers within the state of Missouri; yeah, things sure have changed over there on Mount Oread. Maybe KU administrators finally just caved after eight years of listening to Missouri beg to play KU.

Or maybe Jeff Long is a boob.

Missouri needs Kansas way more than Kansas ever needed Missouri. I have no facts to back this up, but in my opinion, the Tigers have been an afterthought in the Kansas City area for years now in terms of exposure and recruiting, and suddenly, Kansas has invited them back in. KU always had its in-state rivalry to fall back and focus on, while Missouri now has… Arkansas?

And in terms of basketball, KU puts 16K plus in the seats against Eastern Michigan, while my 3A high school alma mater gym likely attracts more fans than any Missouri home game against anyone not named Kentucky.

Now Missouri gets its most important game ever back on the schedule – one guaranteed sellout. Bitching and moaning about never getting to play in a Final Four or a BCS Bowl doesn’t work – you have to earn those. So, the Tigers will have to settle for renewing their Super Bowl with Kansas.

So once again, congrats on your Cold War victory, Missouri. Hopefully it will be the last win you ever get. Now, where’s my 49-star flag?

Source: Rock Chalk Talk