Kansas and Missouri will play a basketball exhibition Sunday before a sold-out crowd at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Proceeds from the event are expected to exceed $1 million and will go to a great cause — helping those suffering from the hurricanes that have devastated the coastlines of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other areas. Kansas Coach Bill Self, who said the idea was his dad’s, deserves a tip of the cap for putting the game together.
It will be the first time KU and Mizzou will meet in basketball since Feb. 25, 2012, a game KU won 87-86 in thrilling fashion. But those thinking the exhibition is the first step in renewing the Border War in regular-season contests, not only in basketball but also in football and other sports, shouldn’t get their hopes up. At least that’s the message from Self.
Self said maximizing funds raised was his motivation for reaching out to Cuonzo Martin, the Mizzou coach. As far as scheduling Mizzou in the regular season, Self said “I haven’t changed how I feel about that at all.”
Self’s feeling is Mizzou ended the rivalry when the Tigers left the Big 12 Conference to join the SEC in 2012. Self has refused to schedule the Tigers since. The same goes for other sports at Kansas. In the past five years, the only meeting between Missouri and Kansas was an NCAA Regional softball game in 2014.
But is that stance really in Kansas’ best interest?
Self and the basketball program don’t need the Border War. Allen Fieldhouse sells out every game, no matter the opponent. But the same doesn’t hold true for other sports, especially football. Financially, resuming the Missouri-Kansas rivalry, with on campus games early in the year, could provide a vital a shot in the arm to two struggling college football programs.
Following are the teams on Kansas’ three-game nonconference football schedule for the next four years: Nicholls State, Central Michigan, Rutgers, Indiana State, Coastal Carolina, Boston College, Wagner, South Dakota and Duke. No three of those games combined would have the fan interest and financial impact of one game against Missouri.
Gary Pinkell, the former Missouri football coach, saluted Self for putting the basketball scrimmage together. He added that he hoped the game could be a springboard to renewing the Border War, at least in football.
“I think what’s in place (the charity basketball game) is awesome,” Pinkell said on Kansas City’s 610 Sports Radio. “I think there’s a point here, too, that we should be playing each other. Put us in a position where the universities can make money and the fans will have the opportunity to have this rivalry back. We can all do this. We can make this work.”
Sunday’s event should be great for fans of both universities and it will have a significant impact in helping with hurricane relief. But that impact could be multiplied many times over if it somehow becomes a catalyst for a renewal of this great college rivalry.