Hooray for Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self for making it crystal clear the vast majority of Jayhawk fans are not going to shed any tears over the University of Missouri’s departure from the Big 12 conference to join the Southeast Conference.
It would be nice if other KU officials had the courage and conviction to speak out with Self’s clarity rather than trying to couch their reaction to MU’s snub of the Big 12 with nicey-nice politically correct statements.
Self told Journal-World writer Gary Bedore, “I think everybody hoped that Missouri would stay, but I don’t know of any Kansas fans that are crying over them leaving.”
Asked whether the Jayhawks and Tigers would play again in men’s basketball, Self said, “We will play them two more times — we’ve got them home and away this year.” Asked about scheduling MU at a later date, the highly successful Self said, “Like I said before, we have absolutely no obligation whatsoever to play Missouri in basketball. None. If we do so, it will only be done because it’s best for Kansas, not done because anyone else wants us to. We couldn’t care less what Missouri wants. If in fact they want to play us, it will be strictly determined if we want to. It will not be determined by other people, because I’ll be honest, the majority of Kansas fans don’t give a flip about playing Missouri.”
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and KU Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger issued statements to “wish Missouri all the best in the future,” and added “We’re sorry to see a century-old rivalry end.”
Since the days of the late MU football coach Dan Devine, Missouri officials have tried to gain admission to the Big 10 conference. They were rejected at that time and again a year or so ago when they tried to get into the Big 10. After that rebuff, they asked to be admitted to the SEC. This was not a slam dunk because some SEC officials were not eager to bring in Missouri. Some didn’t like Missouri trying to be assigned to the western division of the conference and they indicated they didn’t like the idea of MU officials trying to dictate terms and bully SEC officials to do whatever Missouri wanted.
Eventually, MU got the OK to join the SEC, but only as a part of the conference’s eastern division.
MU officials have said they want to continue athletic competition with the Jayhawks on an annual basis and have indicated they would consider an annual football game in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. There will be considerable pressure by Kansas City business interests and the city’s Chamber of Commerce and sports commission to entice KU officials to buy into such an event. Their efforts are not about school rivalry or tradition; it’s only an attempt to help the Kansas City economy.
It is hoped KU officials will say “no way.” If, by some chance, such a game should be scheduled, it should be played on the campuses of the two schools, not Arrowhead Stadium.
What happens to the annual post-season Big 12 basketball tournament in Kansas City will be up to the conference chancellors, presidents, athletic directors and coaches.
Again, it is refreshing to read and hear what Self has to say about Missouri turning its back on the Big 12. The last scheduled KU-MU basketball games — Feb. 4 in Columbia and Feb. 25 in Lawrence — as well as the Nov. 26 football game in Kansas City, are sure to be heated and emotional games.