I had the distinct honor of graduating and earning my commission from the University of Kansas. CinC HOUSE, on the other hand, went to the University of Missouri. Now, if you’re not familiar with the Midwest (it’s that large flat piece in the middle of our country), this is a pretty big rivalry that we call the Border War. A few years ago, the name was changed to the Border Showdown. I’m sure this was done as a very well intentioned attempt to be political correct towards the military. Since I’m in the military, and I think Border Showdown is pretty lame, I’m sticking with the Border War.
I’m not going to argue that this rivalry is bigger than Duke/UNC, Michigan/Ohio State, UCLA/USC, or any of the other regional college rivalries that exist these days. It’s been a few years since the Jayhawks and Tigers were both great at the same sport (although this year looks promising for basketball), and your preference is going to depend entirely on where you’re from and where you’re allegiances lie.
I will argue (and probably lose), however, that KU/Mizzou has more history associated with it than any of the other matchups. This is a rivalry that was born in the United States Civil War. There was a lot of violence between the state of Missouri and the territory of Kansas. Missouri was a slave state, and it looked like Kansas was going to enter the union as a free state. The city of Lawrence (where KU is) was burnt down during the war. The KU mascot is the Jayhawk which is depicted as a large bird. In reality, there is no such bird. The name Jayhawk actually comes from a group of Kansas bandits that existed in the mid-1800s. When the violence broke out along the border, these outlaws banded together to attack the Missouri invaders. That’s right, our mascot is named after outlaws because they kicked the crap out of our nearest neighbor. That’s the kind of thing that from which real rivalries are born. We’ve hated each other ever since.
Now, you’ve probably seen in the news that Missouri is leaving the Big XII and heading down to the SEC. This is going to have a pretty major effect on the rivalry. Right now, we play each other every season in football and 2 or 3 times a season in basketball (I know there are more sports, but these are two that matter the most). Teams play enough nonconference games in basketball that I’m pretty sure we’ll still be able to schedule each other there. In football, however, when there’s only 4 nonconference games, it’s going to be tough. Missouri is going to have to look south and try to build up a meaningful rivalry with Arkansas (although, it looks like they will be in different divisions of the SEC, so that might not work so well). Meanwhile, the Jayhawks have to turn towards the west and pretend that Kansas State actually matters. I realize that there’s big money in college sports, and conference realignment is a necessity for some, but this is going to be a huge hit to an awesome matchup.
There’s one place, however, where the Border War will live on forever: our house. CinC HOUSE and I are constantly ribbing each other over it, and it looks like the kids are starting to pick up on it. Here’s what happened a few days ago:
There you have it. Our son is just cruising around on his Jayhawk doll, minding his own business and having a good time. Then out of nowhere, in true Mizzou fashion, our daughter flies in with the Tiger and delivers a cheap shot. Then of course, she feels the need to keep attacking while the Jayhawk is down. I believe at one point, she even said, “I’m going to eat your eyes.” That pretty much sums up the entire Missouri mindset.
So, rest assured good people of the Midwest. While the Border War may be in danger of falling apart, there is one place where it is alive and well. It will continue to thrive for many years as the kids grow. ROCK CHALK, JAYHAWK, GO KU!