8 fantastic rivalries that were ruined by conference realignment
Thanksgiving hasn't been the same since Texas A&M and Missouri started hanging out with the SEC. Or since West Virginia and Pitt started rolling with the Big 12 and ACC, respectively. Conference realignment ended a handful of traditional rivalries, either because of scheduling conflicts or acrimonious relationships. In other words, no more Texas-Texas A&M. No more Backyard Brawl. No more Border War. Rivalry week isn't what it used to be, and, frankly, we wish everyone would just get along. Here's a look at eight rivalries rich in history and tradition that have suffered due to conference realignment.
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Texas-Texas A&M (last played: 2011)
Played on Thanksgiving in most years, this heated rivalry ended when the Aggies left the Big 12 for the SEC. The 2012 season marked the first time since 1915 that A&M and Texas haven't been in the same league -- both were charter members of the Southwest Conference and then the Big 12. Few rivalries run as deep in the traditions of each school. Both fight songs mention the other ('Goodbye to Texas University. So long to the Orange and White' in the Aggie War Hymn, 'And it's goodbye to Texas A&M' in Texas Fight). Bevo has been kidnapped through the course of the rivalry, and so has Reveille. For now, the best chance of a game between the two may be the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Getty ImagesBrian Bahr
Pittsburgh-West Virginia (last played: 2011)
Separated by 80 miles, the Backyard Brawl was turned up a notch when Pittsburgh stopped playing its other top rival, Penn State. With both teams in the Big East and the game taking place in the final week of November in all but one year since 1997, the rivalry took a new look. The most significant game in the rivalry, though, was in 2007 when then-No. 2 West Virginia lost its bid for the national championship thanks to a monumental 13-9 upset by 4-7 Pittsburgh.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
Kansas-Missouri (last played: 2011)
Just because the Border War (now the Border Showdown) doesn't rise to the same level of national attention as Michigan-Ohio State or the Iron Bowl doesn't make it any less nasty across all sports. Before Missouri left for the SEC, Kansas-Missouri was the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi. The series has been shaped by brawls, upsets and conniving nature over the years. But now it's just a Cold War. While he won't be the final say, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has indicated he wouldn't mind if the Jayhawks never played Missouri again.
Getty ImagesTim Umphrey
Nebraska-Oklahoma (last played: 2010)
Consider this: There's a whole generation out there that never watched Nebraska and Oklahoma face off on Thanksgiving. As the Big Eight's preeminent powers during the 1960s, '70s and '80s, one program in the rivalry was a consistent foil for the other. At one point, the winner of this game won the Big Eight in 31 of 36 seasons, including the 1971 Game of the Century between the No. 1 Cornhuskers and No. 2 Sooners. The formation of the Big 12 ended this game as an annual event, and Nebraska's departure for the Big Ten ended regular meetings altogether. A sliver of good news, though: The series has been scheduled for a non-conference home-and-home in 2021-22.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
Michigan-Notre Dame (last played: 2014)
The Michigan-Notre Dame series has been marked by lulls from 1944-77 and 1910-41, but the two teams have met nearly every year since 1978. The series was an apparent casualty from Notre Dame's agreement to face four or five ACC schools every season. It remains to be seen how the arrangement will affect Notre Dame's other traditional games against Michigan State and Purdue. Notre Dame has indicated its top rivalries to preserve would be those with USC, Navy and Stanford.
Getty ImagesJonathan Daniel
Penn State-Pittsburgh (last played: 2000)
This used to be the biggest rivalry game for both schools, but it was at its best in the late 1970s and '80s when Pitt was a national title contender under Jackie Sherrill and Johnny Majors. Penn State coach Joe Paterno was not the biggest fan of Sherrill, and Pittsburgh was not the biggest fan of the Eastern football league Paterno hoped to establish. Pitt joined the Big East instead. When Penn State joined the Big Ten, it all but ended the series.
Getty ImagesGeorge Gojkovich
Florida-Miami (last played: 2013)
Florida-Miami was once the longest running series in the Sunshine State, but that ended when the SEC moved to an eight-game schedule. The Gators kept their annual series with Florida State, set in motion by the state legislature (Miami also continued to play FSU every year well before both were in the ACC). Florida and Miami played each season from 1938-87, ending just as both programs achieved national prominence. The two teams have only played five times since the series ended.
Getty ImagesMike Ehrmann
Arkansas-Texas (last played: 2014)
The two programs have played only three times in the regular season since Arkansas left the Southwest Conference in 1992. The most recent meeting was a 31-7 Arkansas win in the Texas Bowl last season. The rivalry was at its best when the top two coaches for each school -- Darrell Royal at Texas and Frank Broyles at Arkansas -- overlapped from 1958-78. In 1969, No. 1 Texas defeated No. 2 Arkansas 15-14 on Dec. 2 of that season. In that famous game, President Richard Nixon attended and declared the Longhorns national champions.