The buzzer had gone off accompanied by a red light and 0.0 on the clock at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, KS. The date was Saturday, February 25th, 2012. The scoreboard read 87-86 in favor of the Jayhawks of Kansas over their arch-rivals from Missouri. As Kansas players, coaches, and fans celebrated, people both on and off in the court that were in MIZZOU attire could only hang their heads in disbelief after blowing a 19 point deficit. While the game decided the outcome of the Big XII regular season, something much bigger and entertaining was decided in the plain state of Kansas. One of the most treasured, storied, and annual rivalries in collegiate sports had seen its final chapter written for the foreseeable future.
Saturday's game between the Missouri Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks marked the final time that the Border Showdown (or Border War, I should say) was to be played before MIZZOU bolts for a new and foreign land composed of Gators, Volunteers, Bulldogs, Razorbacks, or otherwise known as the Southeastern Conference. By moving to the SEC, MIZZOU leaves behind a number of rivalries that date back to the days of the Big 8 conference, and before that, the Big 6. The most important rivalry that MIZZOU will see in the rearview mirror is the one with Kansas, which dates back to 1891 in football and 1907 in basketball. MIZZOU wants to continue the rivalry by playing in the years to come but so far has had less encouraging responses from Kansas on the subject, which leaves all future battles up in the air.
While not as sexy as other rivalries in collegiate sports like Ohio State vs. Michigan, Army vs. Navy, Duke vs. North Carolina, or USC vs. UCLA, Missouri vs. Kansas still is important to generations of people in the heartland. Hoards of people were raised to be loyal to a powerful Tiger and loath a meek Jayhawk and vice-versa. Fans anticipated every battle on the gridiron and hardwood knowing a victory would make their respective teams year if nothing else went right. A loss would be the ultimate disappointment no matter how good a year the team had. The biggest lost though is the one that will be lost on history. Missouri and Kansas have been at war with each other since the days before the Civil War and was simply continued from the battlefields to the athletic fields and replaced with a new type of bloodshed.
While it's cool to see MIZZOU go and try something new with the move to the SEC, it's sad to see them leave behind a rival like Kansas. Sure, there are teams like Florida in football and Kentucky in basketball that I can't stand, but something about them doesn't have the same ring to it as a date with Kansas has in autumn and the winter. In a rivalry such as MIZZOU and Kansas, there's a certain love that only hatred can understand, and that will be the biggest void. I hope the two schools can come to an agreement and continue a hatred that was born in the 1850s. If not, I guess I'll have to find a new rival in the SEC, something that will not be easy and something that will have to fall somewhere on the border.