This past Saturday, the Missouri Tigers played their last game in the Big 12 Conference.
In a dominating 90-75 win over the Baylor Bears in Kansas City, Missouri, the Tigers claimed the Big 12 Championship, the final chapter of their 100-year history with the conference. They now head to the NCAA Tournament as a #2 seed against Norfolk State and perhaps their best shot at a national title in years. They also head to the Southeastern Conference.
To say that I am against their move to the SEC in July is like saying the sun is warm. I hate that we are turning away from a century of tradition, from a band of teams that have become our dysfunctional family; a raucous bunch of step-brothers we’d rather punch than shake hands with most of the time, but family nonetheless. It seems ludicrous. It seems like a nightmare. And worst of all, they’re actually going to make me do something I never thought I’d do.
I am actually going to miss Kansas.
The MU-KU Rivalry is one of the oldest in the nation, and the oldest west of the Mississippi. It can trace its roots directly back to the Civil War and the bloody skirmishes between the Pro- and Anti-Slavery factions in the two states. It is, in fact, the only college sports rivalry that started with actual, literal warfare, making the annual gridiron or court showdowns all the more theatrical. KU is the Lex Luthor to our Superman, the Megatron to our Optimus Prime. Now that Mizzou is leaving for the SEC, the two rivals will clash no more. Kansas is so far refusing to renew the Border War after MU departs, and as much as I hate the Jayhawks, I resent Missouri just as much…for making me side with Kansas.
After all, it’s not Kansas turning its back on such a storied past, it is Missouri, bolting for unfamiliar territory on the promise of a more lucrative contract. As much as we despise each other, it is undeniable that we have made each other better, made every game we’ve played against each other an event, made every moment laced with drama and tension…and sold a whole hell of a lot of tickets in the process. Missouri’s move flies not only in the face of a century-long tradition, but basic financial sense. What game could possibly sell seats like the Border War? What Tiger fan will spend a whole season waiting for the epic showdown with…Vanderbilt? And what will become of our finally-respectable football team when they have to line-up against juggernauts like Auburn, Alabama, and LSU?
Hell, with LSU around, they won’t even be the only Tigers in the conference.
Naturally, Jayhawk fans make it really hard to have any good feelings for them. For one of the most successful basketball programs in NCAA history, they have some of the most insecure, bitter die-hards in all of fandom. They were quick to call our Big 12 Championship win “meaningless,” implying that the annual tournament that Kansas City fights so hard to keep every year is a futile endeavor and that the thousands of people who packed into the Sprint Center and the millions more who watched on TV were wasting their time.
So while I want so desperately for the Tigers to keep on winning, winning, winning, I can’t help but think of all that we’ll be losing. Our traditions, our history, our rivals, our reviled arch-nemesis. Worse, will there be some future generation that will be unaware of the MU-KU rivalry? Will Tigers and Jayhawks link arms and skip down some post-apocalyptic road to my Worst Gawddamned Nightmare?!
All right, well, goodbye for now you blue-and-crimson bastards. I look forward to watching you choke in the NCAA Tournament. And I can only hope that some day, we’ll butt heads again on the court or field, but for now…
Let’s say goodbye with a smile dear,
Just for awhile dear, we must part
Don’t let this parting upset you,
I’ll not forget you, sweetheart,
We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where, don’t know when.
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
Till the blue skies chase those dark clouds, far away.
And I will just say hello
To the folks that you know
Tell them you won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know that as I saw you go
You were singing this song
We’ll meet again,
don’t know where, don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day
…and we’ll beat your sorry asses.