Below is a blog from Missourinet affiliate KTGR/Columbia-Matt Michaels.
Mizzou’s membership in the SEC would have been a fantasy if the Tigers’ old rivals had jumped ship first… and it may have had a chance of happening.
A report in the Omaha World-Herald says an unnamed Big 12 athletic director pitched some Big 10 athletic directors on a potential expansion plan in June 2010. The plan would have seen five Big 12 members jump ship: Oklahoma, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Nebraska… and Kansas.
The idea got a good reception from the Big 10, but got hung up on a revenue-sharing plan that would satisfy everyone. Reportedly, it would take three to four years for all the schools to reap the financial benefits, and when Nebraska and Colorado left the conference on their own, the five-team deal was dead on the vine.
Never mind who orchestrated the “Big 16″ plan – Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione and Iowa State’s Jamie Pollard are the only AD’s in that group of five still in the Big 12 now – but it would make the most sense to be someone in that pack of teams. The deal also would have broken up the oldest college rivalry west of the Mississippi.
You know, the same MU-KU rivalry the folks in Lawrence refuse to reignite because the Tigers “ditched them” for the SEC. The rivalry the Jayhawks apparently were ready to abandon long before Missouri’s move down south.
Current Jayhawks AD Sheahon Zenger wasn’t in charge at the time of realignment (disgraced and deposed Lew Perkins was), but he and his boosters’ opinion on the matter reamins steadfast. “Mizzou left our conference,” they crow, “so they killed the rivalry. We don’t need them, and we don’t need the Border War.”
Today, the only reason Kansas remains on high ground is because the school is built on a hill. It’s naive to think KU administration – likely the big-money boosters, too – were in the dark on a coup that would have triggered a seismic shift in the landscape of college sports. June 2010 was a full year before even the first scent of Missouri’s jump to the SEC filled the air. The Jayhawks were ready and willing to stick it to the Tigers, leaving Mizzou as a carpetbagger bound for a dying Big East or the Mountain West.
Yes, it’s blatant hypocrisy, enough to recall the words of H.G Wells: “Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.”
What everyone knows now is that Zenger and his top donors have no excuses left when it comes to the Border War, even if Kansas’ move to leave Missouri in a hollowed-out Big 12 never came to pass. Mizzou’s new AD, Mack Rhoades, has called publicly for a rivalry renewal. He says he’s had cordial calls with the top Jayhawk, but there haven’t been any serious discussions about making sure MU vs. KU doesn’t fade into obscurity and irrelevance.
If reports from Big 12 country are true, it’s high time for Rhoades to pick up the phone again and force the issue with Zenger. Kansas can’t run from history any longer… especially not the history it would have rather made for itself.