It seemed like Missouri and Kansas meeting head-to-head for the first time since MU left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference two years ago was a fine news peg to take a glance at the state of the rivalry, which is at best in a state of suspended animation since Mizzou’s defection.
That glance mostly evoked this:
Some passionate KU fans, which is to say about each of the 15-20 who emailed me directly, want nothing to do with MU and think it’s ridiculous to even discuss it … let alone bring it up for a third time in a year.
And they’re mostly right: I just don’t get it.
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Anyway, as a diehard fan of college sports who thinks this leaves a void, I’ve had my say.
So let’s turn it over to readers for email excerpts from KU and Big 12 fans who dissented.
(Some granted permission to use their names, but others either declined or did not immediately respond to an email request to identify them, so all other names are withheld.)
“Okay, so you decide to write another column regarding how Kansas and Missouri need to put their differences aside and play each other again. Then you slant 80% of the article against the University of Kansas. Interesting way to mend fences. …
“Here is the bottom-line fact: The feelings of Mizzou toward the University of Kansas are today mostly rooted in their ugly, intense jealousy of the basketball program at the University of Kansas. Mizzou has never had any program with anything close to that type of national scope and elite standing. This fact makes (fans) irate, though they would never admit it publicly.
“All of these issues play into us not just deciding what the heck and to play again. For now, be still Mizzou, it is not yet time for us to resume playing. We will let you know when that time has come.” – Steve Martin
“… I know you will have a hard time digesting this but the vast majority of KU fans never want to play Mizzou again, if only because we won’t have to be exposed to the classless clown with the ‘Burn KU’ sign hanging around his neck. A neighbor who we never liked moved out of the neighborhood. We rejoiced. And we have no desire to ever cross paths with that neighbor ever again.”
“… I am a Kansas fan, so I see things through that filter. But your time covering Missouri in St. Louis creates a filter for you as well. Perhaps you should dig a little deeper to understand KU’s position.
“All of this conjecture about how KU would have jumped ship too, had it been given the chance, is certainly not provable. What is clear is that Missouri actively sought out the Big 10, then (was) rejected, then jumped to the SEC the next chance they got.
“The facts are this: Missouri abandoned over 100 years of tradition for money, putting the Big 12 at risk, and harming KU. Now they want their cake and want to eat it too.
“You mention KU playing Colorado in basketball. That serves the interest of KU fans in western Kansas being able to travel to Boulder for games. Sticking with basketball, playing MU does not serve our interest.
“We sell out every home game. We play the toughest non-conference schedule in the country. We don’t need that game. They do (poor attendance, low enthusiasm). …
“Football is another story. We aren’t very good. But playing MU doesn’t serve our interest, either. Nine conference games means we don’t need a tough non-con (game) at this point. And we don’t need to help MU recruiting in KC by playing them at Arrowhead.
“I know this letter indicates that I must still care about the rivalry. Yes, but less so every year. Actions have consequences. Of course MU wants the rivalry to resume, and of course KC sports writers want it. KU doesn’t.”
“Here is what you don’t get. Nebraska and Colorado said up front they were leaving. Mizzou is like a cheating spouse. They said they weren’t leaving, and come to find out they were. I don’t care either way. But you people in the media just don’t get it.”
“May I say that I am sure you are a fine person, but you seem obsessed with getting Kansas to play Missouri. … Missouri needs and wants Kansas. Kansas does not need Missouri, and the Kansas fans don’t want Missouri, so how about traveling down another rabbit trail and drop your pursuit of this topic.”
“As a proud University of Texas fan, I can speak about the sentiments involved in past rivalries torn apart because of conference re-alignment. I am also an equally proud father and husband of two KU graduates and have enjoyed many KU/MU games in the past.
“To you and others who believe this rivalry should be rekindled, I say: Let that happen when Missouri asks to be reinstated back into the Big XII. Same thing with Texas V. A&M.
“Missouri and A&M decided to leave the conference. No one asked them to leave, especially their two rivals. This decision is their choice, alone. And, life will move forward just fine.
“Losing MU/KU games does not qualify as tragic drama as you might lead us to believe. Yes, the rivalry makes your job easier. But for many fans, we say, ‘good riddance.’ “ — Mike Godowns
“I still do not get this fascination on the part of MU fans to renew the rivalry. Even more amusing is their insistence that KU is the sticking point in it not being continued. It’s like a father walking away from his family for a better-looking woman, and then insisting it’s his ex that is making communication with his children difficult. …
“MU made their move after being publicly humiliated by flapping their gums about a B1G invitation. Their move threatened to dismantle a conference to which they had belonged for decades. It was made without regard for anyone other than themselves.
“They are already mostly irrelevant in KC, and becoming more so each year. Now they want to become relevant again in their own state in a city where KU is commanding most of the market share.
“And now KU, in the name of rekindling a rivalry, is supposed to allow them a new foothold? It’s a laughably shallow argument, and one which KU has had the good sense to see for what it is.” – Chuck
“Upfront: I am neither a Jayhawk nor a Tiger but a huge fan of the Big 12. I grew up in the Big 8 and Big 12. ... You are absolutely right it was a great rivalry. It sold tickets; provided both sides with alternating bragging rights; made for good news stories and a host of other good reasons.
“But how quickly you forgot who started this and how vocally loud and negative they were in the process.
“Yes, the Big 12 for a number of reasons was in a jam. It’s not now and has made it through the process despite the departure of Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M. Would it have even been stronger if they had stayed? Without a doubt, but they had their reasons for going and we all had to accept them….
“Mizzou sought the Big 10 and was rejected. Then, (it) turned to the SEC. I understand some of the reasons but think about this. Mizzou officials and especially the Governor made several very public remarks about why other places were better than the Big 12.
“I remember one in particular where he compared Northwestern to OSU and Texas Tech in very negative terms. Right or wrong, that’s not the way to win friends at home and in family….
“Maybe in a few years this will all blow over, but your comments forget the feelings that Mizzou generated when it left the Big 12. Now to almost immediately expect welcoming arms is a bit unrealistic.
“As I said before I’m not primarily a Jayhawk fan, but I am a Big 12 fan and it is not easy to forget all the public comment about the rest of us. I’ll always support any Big 12 school against Mizzou because of the way they scorned the Big 12. The other three schools who departed were much more professional and appropriate as they left. ...
“Clearly, Mizzou doesn’t care about the rest of us and frankly, we’re thankful that KU is for the time reminding them that you don’t mess with family.” – Gary Price