It's not news that basketball has been little more than afterthought during the realignment madness of the past few months. But with that being the case, several long-standing conference rivalries are in jeopardy of falling by the wayside, including the annual border war between Big 12 rivals Kansas and Missouri.
After a lengthy Tuesday night meeting, the University of Missouri board of curators unanimously authorized chancellor Brady Deaton to explore the Tigers’ conference affiliation. Deaton subsequently resigned from the Big 12’s board of directors. The long and short of it is that it appears Mizzou is headed to the SEC.
The basketball rivalry between Kansas and Missouri consists of 265 total meetings and has been played without interruption since 1907. Despite this, Jayhawk head coach Bill Self says he can't see the series continuing if Mizzou does in fact bounce out of the Big 12.
"I could probably change my mind (but) trust me, we would have no trouble finding another nonleague game to play. I love the rivalry. Playing home and home in the league is great and all those things … (but) I can’t imagine, why would we continue playing?
"If they choose to be somewhere other than with us and with the other schools that they’ve been a part of and could jeopardize the future of the other schools … I’m not going to make a commitment now that we’d ever play again. I’m not saying we won’t. I’m certainly not going to pretend that we would."
It wouldn't be difficult for Kansas and Mizzou to schedule an annual meeting at a neutral location (Missouri and Illinois already do it every year), and there would almost certainly be a large public outcry for that to occur. None of this is lost on Self, who went even further and got even more emotional.
"I’m not saying it would be bad or won’t be bad (playing once on neutral court). I will say this … the media is not going to dictate who we play. I’ll dictate who we play as long as I’m coaching here," Self said. "I have no ill will toward Missouri at all, but to do something at a time that could be so damaging and hurtful to a group, I can’t see us just taking it and forgetting. I think that would be something that’d be talked about with our administration and we’d make a decision that’s best for our place. They are making a decision that’s best for theirs. We’ll make a decision on a schedule that’s best for us.
"I am not going to schedule Missouri just to schedule Missouri. I’m going to schedule what’s best for us, period. That’s how it’s going to be."
Self has owned Missouri since he's been at Kansas (14-3), so it's a bit hard to understand why he's so resolute on this subject. Who knew he was such a Big 12 warrior?
My best guess is that when the dust settles and Missouri has fully embraced its Southern roots, some deal will be worked out to ensure that the series doesn't die. Still, it certainly adds intrigue to this season's games.