The legend of sweet revenge in athletics is often badly overrated. Current Missouri football fans may come to recognize that, except it may take a year to drive home such a realization. As it did for Kansas in 1960-61.
You're doubtlessly aware that the Missouri Tigers and their faithful are gurgling with new resentment. KU got a BCS Orange Bowl bid, and MU wound up a notch down in the Cotton Bowl. Zealots emphasize that MU beat KU in their showdown, and whipped Illinois, a Rose Bowl invitee with a 9-3 record.
MU's decisive victory over KU came in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium with Kansas as the "home" team. Next fall in the same money-grabbing arena, MU will be the designated host. Already followers are forecasting how Missouri will "get even" for this year's perceived mistreatment. They contend MU will be fired so high it will obliterate KU and wind up in a much better bowl.
A year's a long time to nurse a sports grudge and make it pay. KU old-timers know that. Many of the devoted vowed that KU in '61 would avenge the rooking the Jayhawks took in Kansas City's infamous Mezzanine Bowl in late 1960. All that did was set the stage for disappointment, though the scenery brightened after Kansas won its first bowl game.
MU was 9-0 and rated No. 1 nationally when Kansas turned the Tigers inside-out with a 23-7 flogging at Columbia in '60. Yet MU's Don Faurot and Texas Christian's Dutch Meyer had set the stage for a couple of KU forfeits that led to an "official" 11-0 Missouri record and an Orange Bowl victory. Meyer was involved because KU halfback Bert Coan had starred as a freshman at TCU, had been given a plane ride to the Chicago All-Star game by KU alumnus Bud Adams, then Coan wound up at KU. Meyer was livid, Faurot was, well, being Dedicated Don.
Faurot and Co. got the league faculty representatives to change the eligibility rules in a meeting at a Kansas City hotel. Nice-guy KU failed to raise enough hell, and the decision to forfeit Kansas victories over MU and Colorado was announced in the mezzanine. MU won two "bowl" games that season.
Kansas continues to list a 7-2-1 record for '60, with an asterisk. Officially it is 5-4-1. After the Kansas City do-over and the W-L alteration, a lot of KU people stressed that MU sure-in-hell would have an ass-to-risk when it came to Lawrence the following Nov. 25. There was enormous buildup on that basis, enough that the crowd here was just under 41,000 (all Memorial Stadium could then hold).
But either Missouri people had tutored their players better or KU people had overplayed the revenge factor. Missouri edged Kansas, 10-7, in a bruising battle. So much for getting even. The loss left KU with a 6-3-1 record after September expectations had been stratospheric; players, coaches and loyalists were devastated. Still, something good was coming.
Old Bud Adams pulled some strings to get KU an invitation to the Dec. 17 Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, coach Jack Mitchell conned his deflated athletes into voting to go, and they were delighted with the 33-7 holiday excursion. Missouri wound up with a 7-2-1 record and no bowl trip, so KU gained some salve for its wounds.
But forget that sweet revenge KU had counted on by walloping Missouri for the second straight year. Outraged MU fans could suffer the same kind of pain next fall. We can hope, huh?