Kansas, Missouri end 120-year-old rivalry
The jovial Kansas fan decked out in school colors of red and
blue scooped a sizzling hamburger patty off the portable grill and
dropped it onto the plate of a smiling fellow dressed in Missouri
black and gold.
Apparently, passions have cooled over 120 years. Fistfights
broke out in the crowd in 1891 when Kansas and Missouri played
their first football game.
For the most part, good-natured jibes held sway during festive
tailgating on Saturday when they played their last.
”It’s a shame this rivalry has to end,” said 1976 Kansas grad
Steve Billings as he slipped another patty onto the grill. ”But
we’ll just continue to hope they lose in the SEC and we’ll continue
to build the Big 12.”
When Missouri rallied for a 24-10 victory before a sparse crowd
in Arrowhead Stadium, the nation’s second-oldest collegiate rivalry
– and one of the most unique – came to what many consider a sad
The Tigers, who have shared a conference with Kansas since 1907,
are headed to the Southeastern Conference. They’ll likely make more
money and no longer worry about Texas or Oklahoma breaking up the
league and forcing them to go hat-in-hand to some other BCS
Kansas, without an invitation from another BCS conference when
the Big 12 seemed on the brink of extinction both this year and
last, is staying put.
Though things seem settled down now, the Jayhawks down the road
will still be subject to the whims of Big 12 powers Texas and
Oklahoma, not knowing the security that will soon belong to
That Missouri was willing to leave them in the lurch is one
reason Kansas has refused the Tigers’ offer to continue the rivalry
in Kansas City on a nonconference basis.
And that, to many Missourians, is one of the best things about
They were wanted by another major conference, and Kansas was
”Mizzou had to act in the best interests of Mizzou and that was
going to the SEC, financially and athletically,” Missouri fan
Michael Funk said.
”But (the Big 12) has some stability now and I think KU should
As inflamed as emotions have always been in these parts, fans
around the nation rarely paid much attention to Kansas-Missouri
Unlike other long-running rivalries such as Alabama-Auburn and
Michigan-Ohio State, the Jayhawks and Tigers were rarely very
But that doesn’t mean people are happy to see the long rivalry
”If you’ve got a 120-year-old tree in your backyard, do you
chop it down and plant a sapling?” asked Amy Longstreet, a
lifelong Kansas fan.
Called for generations ”the Border War,” the Kansas-Missouri
rivalry actually did trace its roots to real bloodshed, the violent
border clashes between free state Kansas and slave state Missouri
in the 1850s and `60s.
Marauding bands from Kansas known as Jayhawkers would make raids
on towns in Missouri, which was protected by militia known as
Missouri Tigers. William Quantrill’s raiders murdered more than 100
men and burned Lawrence, Kan., to the ground in 1863. Before that,
a gang of Jayhawkers did the same to Oceola, Mo.
The ensuing football series was so bitter, the two sides do not
even agree on the overall record. Kansas claims victory in 1961
when it inflicted a loss that may have cost Missouri its only shot
at a national championship.
But Missouri claims victory because the Big Eight Conference
said the Jayhawks used an ineligible player and ordered a
Longtime Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart would never let
his team stay in hotels on the Kansas side of the border.
Former Kansas football coach Don Fambrough used to pump up his
players the night before the Missouri game by telling them
Quantrill was a Missouri grad. He wasn’t. But the ploy never failed
to work the Jayhawks to a fever pitch.
One of the biggest slights Missouri had to endure at Kansas
hands came in 2007 when the Tigers, ranked No. 3 and unbeaten,
defeated No. 2 Kansas in an epic clash.
But through good politicking by then-Kansas athletic director
Lew Perkins, the Jayhawks wound up in the BCS Orange Bowl while
Missouri had to settle for the Cotton Bowl.
That’s one the Tigers have never forgotten. Just ask a famous
Missouri fan who popped into the press box at halftime
”Those were good games. Whether it was Missouri winning and
going to No. 1 or Kansas mistakenly going to the Orange Bowl,”
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said.