One day before No. 9 Kansas was set to face in-state rival Kansas State in men’s basketball, KU coach Bill Self stood inside Allen Fieldhouse on Friday and spoke about losing another rival.
It’s been nearly three years since Missouri left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, and while the presence of K-State has given the Jayhawks a couple of marquee games to circle on the calendar, Self concedes that the loss of a historic rival has been a net-negative for his program.
“To be real candid, it’s not good,” Self said. “It hasn’t been great.”
To this point, Self and other Kansas administrators have held a firm stance against playing or scheduling Missouri. The topic has been addressed ad nauseam at times, with Self offering a similar answer each time. And despite Friday’s comment, it doesn’t appear that stance will soften anytime soon. Still, it appears that even for Self, the end of the Border War has left a void of sorts at Kansas.
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“You can make a case for certain things about it that we haven’t taken a step backward — that kind of stuff,” Self said. “But I think everybody likes waking up in the morning disliking somebody. And so from that standpoint, it probably hasn’t been great.
“But it’s kind of the way it is. It’s the landscape of college athletics. It’s not just us. It’s happened everywhere and all other leagues.
“We’re fortunate and glad, as I’m sure K-State is, to have each other. It’s good. At Oklahoma State and OU, we had Bedlam, which is good. … But it’s hard to replace 180 games or whatever. It’s hard to replace that type of stuff.”
Big 12/SEC Challenge
All things being equal, Self says he is not wild about the new date of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, which is slated to take place Jan. 30 next season. The challenge, which will feature all 10 games on one day, will interrupt the first month of conference play for all teams involved. Still, Self is a fan of the annual event.
“It’s good for our league,” Self said. “It forces everyone to schedule a hard game. (But) the timing is bad. So what you have to look at is, ‘Does the good offset the negative?’ I think the answer is yes.”
Kansas played a home-and-home with Florida during the first two years of the challenge. KU officials said Friday that they have been given no indication as to the next opponent in the series. But one obvious option would be Kentucky. KU faced Kentucky in the Champions Classic this year, giving the programs a two-year window to play a possible home-and-home before matching up again in a future Champions Classic.