Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Anticlimactic End

Today the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi, between Kansas and Missouri, comes to an end.  It's a shame as this year is unlikely to produce much of a game: KU is bad in historical proportions and Mizzou is a pretty solid team this year.  It shouldn't be much of a game.

But Missouri wants out.  They (understandably) hated Texas' control over the conference and longed to go to the BigTen.  The BigTen picked Nebraska instead but Missouri had already left the Big 12 emotionally.  Even after the Big 12 stabilized, addressing almost every issue held by the schools that were complaining, Missouri had already made up her mind leave and was now looking south to the SEC.  The SEC took some convincing but Missouri's not really a bad fit there and eventually the deal was done.

So now a century-old rivalry, born in actual warfare, dies at the hands of Missouri's discontent.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Missouri suffers here too by entering the strongest football conference in the country.  I know the Tiger fans think they'll compete but the reality is that even a good team like Mizzou is going to struggle to go .500 in a conference like that.
  • Missouri is why I learned the word "schadenfreude."
  • Kansas City is hurt worst by this breakup.  It was the halfway point between two bitter rivals, now it risks losing any tournaments, football games, or anything else related to the Big 12.
  • Upsetting Mizzou today would not save Turner Gill's job.  He's a nice guy but it's that bad.
  • A lot of Jayhawk fans are feeling jilted.  Missouri's departure feels capricious and unnecessary.  This generation of KU fans doesn't want to see Missouri again, like someone left at the altar.
  • My kids aren't even going to remember this rivalry.
  • I'm going to smack the next college football fan that tries to justify the Bowl system based on tradition.  Nonsense.  These teams that have left decades-long rivalries have proven that "tradition" has nothing to do with how college football operates.  Give us playoffs already.
  • K-State is not the same.  K-State feels too brotherly.  It's too lighthearted.  The same goes for basketball rivalries like North Carolina or Kentucky.  There's no actual heritage of hard feelings.  They're just friendly competitors.  The Missouri rivalry had a history of violence. 
  • Don Fambrough and Norm Stewart wouldn't have let this end so easily.
  • Missouri has the best chance in years to beat KU in both football and basketball this year.

So long, Mizzou.  As a KU fan, I think you've made a terrible mistake leaving the Big 12.  Perhaps things will change and we'll find ourselves together again in a mega-conference some day.  Good luck.

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