Tigers’ Haith says Mizzou will play Kansas again ‘someday’ — just not anytime soon

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