Why the ‘Border War’ must continue

When a good college sports rivalry ends, we typically cry foul, make a documentary about it, then allow the memories to slip quietly away like strangers in a crowd. But what if that rivalry was born, not out of sportsmanship, but of bloodshed and war?

When a rivalry begins on the fields of battle as opposed to a field of play, you are talking about the rarest kind of rivalry. It is one based on pure hatred, revisionist history and the general belief that you are a better person than the guy living on the other side of the state. The University of Missouri and Kansas University cannot even agree on the actual total record of their football rivalry (Missouri claims a 57-54-9 series lead while KU says it’s 56–55–9).


Long before a game of athletic completion ever occurred between Missouri and Kansas, a literal border war between the two states ensued during the Civil War thus beginning the infamous rivalry. Kansans’ like to refer to Missourians as “slavers” during this era although infamous Kansan John Brown’s propensity for violence was nearly unprecedented as as many as six Missouri towns were attacked at the beginning of the war. Upon retaliation, “Bloody” Bill Quantrill, a confederate guerrilla, led a brutally violent raid on Lawrence, KS which only helped perpetuate the hatred between the two sides. The University’s mascots would eventually be forged from these battles as Kansas as the term “Jayhawkers” began being used to describe troops from the state and “Tigers” as a home guard unit that protected Missouri from guerrilla attack.


grantland_a_ku-mizzou2_mb_64011It has been over three years now since Missouri and Kansas have played in a meaningful sporting event. The two former Big 8/12 brethren were part of one of the purest and most bitter rivalries in college athletics. The University of Missouri decided to explore other options as the conference they once called home began to crumble around them and officially joined the Southeastern Conference in 2012. Kansas fans claimed eternal victory as they stated emphatically that Mizzou took its ball and went home. Tiger fans talked about financial and athletic stability as their rallying cry for why Missouri had the right to claim “scoreboard” on the rivalry which (athletically) dates back to 1891.

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self (one of few basketball coaches in the country with his level of clout) has been adamant since Missouri’s departure that he does not have interest in continuing the series.

They chose to be somewhere else, and that’s fine,” Self said back in 2012. “But when you choose to be somewhere else, you leave a situation behind that’s not the same as when you were in it. Right now it’s not gonna happen.”

Newly appointed Director of Athletics at the University of Missouri Mack Rhoades does not echo Self’s sentiment. “I can’t speak to that — I don’t know what Coach Self thinks or feels,” Rhoades said in a recent interview. “But I think in a perfect world, I’d love to get everybody on board where we’re playing each other in all the different sports.”

The truth is, this rivalry needs to continue. Fans of both teams have talked about how they miss having 4ed17837f3f4b.preview-300an adversary to detest as much as these two sides once did. Sure, Missouri has gone on to have tremendous success in the SEC, winning back-to-back division championships in football and upgrading facilities in ways never before possible. And on the flip side, of course, the Kansas Jayhawks have remained a college basketball blue blood with little interest in its fledgling football program. And yet, there is an almost tangible sense of emptiness from both sides, because in sports, it is more fun to have someone to hate. It goes without saying that without a viable antagonist, no movie is quite the same.

Just how much of Kansas’ refusal to play Missouri has been brought on by bitter feelings by losing a former rival? In today’s college athletics landscape, conference re-alignment did a number on many rivalries and yet somehow schools like Clemson/South Carolina, Kentucky/Louisville and Florida/Florida State have always managed to play each other despite being in separate conferences. As it stands today, the ball is in KU’s court. Why should the games cease because a basketball coach doesn’t feel like playing once a year? Fans of both teams (specifically in the Kansas City area) deserve to have their nemesis back in each others lives.

denmon1As of now, Mizzou and KU fans are left grasping at straws when it comes to mutual hatred. Tiger fans can laugh at the utter embarrassment that the Kansas football program has become and they can sit idly by and hope the Jayhawk basketball team loses in March. Meanwhile, Kansas can point to Missouri’s underachieving basketball program and hope that the Tigers keep losing SEC Championship games in football. The fact remains, a Thanksgiving weekend football game at Arrowhead Stadium and a December basketball match up at Sprint Center makes all the sense in the world.  A rivalry born of bloodshed can never truly disappear, and while a literal “border war” it will never be again, the time for the continuation of a fantastic athletics series is now.


Avatar of Clint Switzer
Full-time sports fan, part-time contributor to society. GASN Sports co-founder, podcast host, filmmaker and writer.

9 thoughts on “Why the ‘Border War’ must continue

  1. Nobody on the Kansas side wants to play this game. Go cry to somebody who cares. We love the fact that you feel an emptiness. We certainly don’t. Nice how you bring up KU’s football without mentioning the story of realignment, MU’s basketball falling from a #2 seed in the Tourney to the worst team in DI without the Jayhawks.

    Enjoy your loneliness losers. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

    1. “Worst team in D1” I see a kU education showing through there. We won 3 times as many conference games in basketball with a first year coach and a young team as your prairie pigeons did in football with a third year coach and a team dominated by upperclass who if they had any brains wish they’d gone elsewhere.

      We’ll get our hoops team back to respectability very soon. Most who are over 30 years old won’t likely live long enough to see the squawks get to .500 in football,.

      Didn’t you get the memo ? Football drives college athletics. BAWK !

      1. I don’t think you would find a strong interest on the Kansas side to start the rivalry back up. Kansas fans really do not care about playing Missouri again. On the basketball side, it would ruin the RPI and SOS. Thanks, but no thanks.

  2. Mizzou basketball is “underachieving”??? Hilarious. They were lower rates than the KU football team in all the website ratings this past year. They’re way worse than underachieving

  3. The author doesn’t know anything. It was MU who did not want to have any part of it and moved on to SEC. KU just said fine. Now try to blame on KU for MU’s own failure?

    1. Thomas, so you’d rather have your success in the past three years vs. MU’s in all sports since we left for the SEC ? Never mind the fact Alden saw no reason why we couldn’t continue to play. And you call it a failure.

      Rock jocks

  4. Mizzou is happy to leave the Jayhawks behind. Seriously, these articles need to stop. No one I know wants to start this up again.

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