With the announcement by the Missouri Tigers that they will join the SEC in 2012 it appears to have signaled the end of an era and the end of one of the great rivalries in all of college sports.
For Kansas and Missouri the rivalry has roots dating back to pre-civil war days and hatred that stems from issues much bigger than any sporting event could drum up on its own. When you talk about Kansas and Missouri, you are talking about two fanbases that have hated eachother longer than probably any other in the entire country and that rivalry appears to be coming to an end.
Following the Missouri announcement Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray Little responded to multiple media request for a reaction with a clear message.
"We're sorry to see a century-old conference rivalry end. Missouri's decision may have implications for fans and for the Kansas City area, but it won't affect the long-term strength of the Big 12."
That sentiment was echoed by the face of Kansas athletics Bill Self and Self was a little more pointed and direct in his comments as he provided a quote fitting of the bad blood when it comes to Kansas and Missouri.
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."
The Kansas stance is clear. If you're not with us, you are against us and given the situation it doesn't make sense for Kansas to continue to play. In basketball Kansas can sell out a game in Kansas City against anyone they play. The Jayhawks have a high profile in Kansas City and by playing Missouri you are only providing them an opportunity to raise their basketball profile in an area that Kansas can easily control.
From a football perspective the argument is reversed. Missouri has a foothold based on recent success and Kansas can't afford to give up one of three non-conference opportunities in order to continue the rivalry regardless of how competitive it has been historically or how much the Tigers claim they want to play.
It will be interesting to if the situation changes with time and the Border War renews with equal passion, but it's hard to see a situation where that could ever exist. The greatest thing about Kansas v Missouri was that it always mattered. In 2007 the two schools played on the biggest stage for a shot at a conference title. When Missouri and Kansas play during the basketball season, at least one of the teams is always in the hunt and sometimes two for a conference championship.
Sure the two sides would still have it out for bragging rights, but does anyone really care if Missouri and Kansas play in basketball in November? And does it matter if the teams meet in Arrowhead in early September? It doesn't have the same meaning. The fans of the two schools would certainly want to win, but with the stakes being that much lower it loses some luster with time.
With six months to go the Jayhawks and Tigers will still face off at least three times in the major sports, once in football and at least twice in basketball. After that it's so long for now and fans might be stuck waiting for a bowl game or tournament time in order to see these two teams play again in future years. Now wouldn't that make for an interesting rekindling of old friendships.