Missouri coach Gary Pinkel still wants the rivalry with Kansas restored. He made that clear Tuesday when he stopped by The Star’s downtown offices during a bye-week media tour of Kansas City.
“I don’t make all those decisions, but, for me, the ideal thing would be to play Kansas the first week or two of the season every year here,” Pinkel said.
During 2007-11, the Tigers and Jayhawks clashed at Arrowhead Stadium, drawing massive crowds and usually producing compelling contests.
But when Missouri moved from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference, the yearly regular-season conference showdown with Kansas disappeared and the Jayhawks, so far, have shown no interest in resuming the rivalry as a nonconference game in football or men’s basketball.
The Tigers, on the other hand, are eager to play the Jayhawks again if it can be worked out.
“People have to see the importance of the game,” Pinkel said. “Obviously, it would be a televised game and a good money-maker for both (schools), because it always has been. From our standpoint, and I know I’ve talked to (Missouri athletic director) Mike (Alden), we’d be willing to do that without question. That’s something Kansas would have to agree with.
“For the life of me, I don’t know why would you not do it. How long are we going to be mad at each other? I’m sure everybody’s got the way they feel about that, and I really don’t want to get into that. But there’s a lot of common sense, is there not, to this. Let’s move on and get the rivalry back for our fans.”
The first KU-MU meeting at Arrowhead — a 36-28 win for the Tigers on Nov. 24, 2007 — had national-championship implications.
Kansas stunned Missouri 40-37 on a late touchdown a year later before the Tigers turned the tables with a 41-39 win in 2009.
Missouri triumphed 35-7 in 2010 and won 24-10 in 2011.
“There are a lot of great memories — one bad one, but the other ones were good memories,” Pinkel said.
Pinkel spent Monday in St. Louis visiting media outlets on the other side of the state, where he fielded a few questions about the Tigers’ other border rival, Illinois — another football series that has been discontinued in recent seasons.
“Illinois did come up a little bit,” Pinkel said. “That’s not near the rivalry, but that’s a big game for us there.”