Tigers' Haith says Mizzou will play Kansas again 'someday' -- just not anytime soon

Haith and Self both believe the Mizzou-KU rivalry will one day be revived -- just not under their watch

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Flash after flash went off inside Municipal Auditorium, and Bill Self reached out with that warm Bill Self handshake and that warm Bill Self smile. Frank Haith smiled back, and there it was:

The closest we'll get to a Kansas and Missouri meeting on a basketball court anytime soon.

"I really don't like Bill at all," Haith, the Tigers' men's basketball coach, said with a puckish grin.

He was kidding.

"Yeah, Bill and I are actually really good friends," Haith told FOXSportsKansasCity.com before the Coaches vs. Cancer Season Tipoff Reception Tuesday in downtown Kansas City. "And I really like Bill a lot."

But as to the game ...

"It's just not time," Haith said.

Oh. That.

"And I think we would like to play," Haith continued. "So someday -- I don't know if it will be while I'm still the coach at Missouri -- but I think someday they will play.

"I think it will happen again. But right now, it's just not the time."

And there ya go. Shame, isn't it?

Led Zeppelin buries the hatchet every now and again. The Eagles burn bridges, then build them back up again. Even The Kinks, whose Davies brothers have been trying to kill each other for more than 50 years, are talking about a reunion tour.

But in July 2012, Mizzou left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, and ne'er the twain. Kansas City was the big loser, the forgotten collateral of an ugly divorce.

This market loves both parents -- maybe not equally, but close -- and it's still kind of strange how much time Mommy spends in Nashville, Birmingham and Atlanta now.

So when we get Self and Haith in the same room, the questions keep getting asked, even though everyone already knows the answers. There's KU on one side of the river, MU on the other, staring at each other from a distance, arms folded, with this teeming metro in the middle, missing a piece of its history, missing a part of its collective soul.

It's a small bone, but Tigers are returning to Kansas City this fall for the first time since winning the 2012 Big 12 tournament; Mizzou is set to play Hawaii at Sprint Center on November 16.

"We want to try and do that every year," Haith said, "because it's important for us to have a presence and not lose our presence here in Kansas City."

Which is all well and good. No offense to the Rainbow Warriors, but imagine what a K-State-Mizzou game would do to the Power & Light District. Or, if the political stars would ever align, KU-Mizzou.

"I don't know all the dynamics," Haith said. "I know what Missouri feels, and we'd like to play K-State. And we'd like to play Kansas. I don't know those other guys' feelings."

Mutual, those feelings ain't. Self will exchange pleasantries with Haith until his dimples hurt, but has inferred publicly and privately that he's not interested in playing the Tigers again as long as he gets to call the shots.

And when asked about Mizzou, Wildcats coach Bruce Weber sounds, well -- let's just call it conflicted.

"Well, that's a whole other thing," chuckled K-State's second-year coach, who has a history with the Tigers from his nine seasons as the head man at Illinois. "That's beyond me. That's the people above me.

"It's not that it's -- I'll just say it's above me. That's not my decision."

Whose decision, then? His athletic director, John Currie? His president, Kirk Schultz?  Bob Bowlsby, down at the Big 12 offices in Dallas?

"No, not the league," Weber continued. "It's just, I think, it's a matter of time, when everything gets settled down."

Time. There's that word again.

On the plus side, Mizzou and K-State are part of the field at the 2014 EA Sports Maui Invitational, slated for next November 24-26. So there's that.

"That would be a long way to go," Weber said, "but it could bring back the rivalry.

"Right now, with their departure from the league, obviously, there were some hurt feelings, and some things that happened. How do you heal wounds? You know, that's over time."

And, perhaps, space.

You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com

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