Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Kansas vs Missouri

A rivalry with Civil War roots

Who'd have thought back in August that this game would have national championship implications? Certainly not Tradesports, which didn't bother to list a BCS championship contract for Kansas.

History and tradition are integral to college football, as are rivalries, which are often fierce. None are fiercer than this weekend's Border Showdown, especially considering what's at stake:
The game Saturday will take place in a neutral site in the city -- Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs professional franchise -- but nothing about it is expected to be neutral. A night-time kickoff means that fans will have plenty of time to drink beforehand. Arrowhead officials, who typically replace about 15 of the stadium's 80,000 seats following a Chiefs game, expect the Kansas-Missouri brawl to leave as many as 500 seats destroyed. Tickets with double-digit face values are selling for $300 online.

Neither school has ever won a national football championship. Indeed, neither team has finished atop their conference since 1969. To fans on both sides, it is maddening to think that the biggest obstacle toward doing so this year is their oldest nemesis. "I hate Kansas more than everything," says Mr. Hickerson. On weeks when they're not playing each other, "I hate Kansas so much, I would rather have Kansas lose than have Missouri win."
The winner will play either Texas or Oklahoma for the Big 12 title and a possible berth in the national championship game. If Kansas wins out, a berth is all but certain; Missouri needs some help. Whoever loses, their fans will be devastated.

Just how devastated? Jason Whitlock comments:
I say let the outsiders run their mouths about Kansas’ soft schedule and about Harvard-Yale, Indiana-Purdue and Notre Dame-USC.

We know the truth. Those rivalries can’t touch Missouri-Kansas. I used to live in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Wolverines and the Buckeyes respect each other. It’s a good solid rivalry. So is Indiana-Purdue, the rivalry that defined my home state.

Missouri-Kansas is just different. It’s a way of life. It dates back to the Civil War and the abolitionist movement. I have Missouri friends who don’t like to cross the state line, and Kansas friends who feel the same way. Yeah, Norm Stewart has softened in retirement. He made peace with the Jayhawks. But I guarantee you he won’t sleep in Kansas or spend a dime in the state this week.

And I guarantee you on Saturday, no one inside Arrowhead Stadium will care who the Tigers or the Jayhawks beat to get here. All that will matter is what they do to each other. That’s all that’s mattered for more than 100 years.
Just what is a Jayhawk? From Wikipedia:
The Jayhawk is a cross between two hunting birds--the noisy blue jay and the quiet sparrow hawk. The term came to prominence just before the Civil War, in Bleeding Kansas, where it was adopted by militant abolitionist groups known as jayhawkers. With the admission of Kansas as a free state in 1861, Jayhawker became synonymous with the extremist people of Kansas. The Jayhawk appears in several Kansas cheers, most notably, the "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" chant in unison before and during games.
As an avid college football fan who has met alumni from both schools, I've known about this rivalry for some time. Its nice to see it getting national attention.


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