Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ryan Robertson: ‘I will miss the rivalry’



Former Kansas University guard Ryan Robertson lets out a yell after the Jayhawks defeated Missouri, 73-61, in this file photo from 1999 in Robertson's final trip to Columbia, Mo., as a Jayhawk.

Let me start by saying I’m a “Big Eight Guy.”

I was born in Oklahoma and cheered for the Billy Tubbs’ Sooners. I went to OSU football games and watched Barry Sanders live. My parents met at K-State, where my dad played football. I went to high school and live in Missouri. And, obviously, I played basketball at Kansas.

I love the Big Eight. I miss the Big Eight. Things were simpler, and rivalries were easy to figure out. I have to be honest; I am not even sure who is in the new Big 12. West Virginia?? I hate conference realignment and the destruction of century-old rivalries.

People ask me all the time living in Missouri what I think about Missouri leaving the Big 12 and also want to know what I think about the KU-MU rivalry ending.  

My answer is always the same.  

I am sad. I am sad for the same reason that I watched my beloved St. Louis Cardinals lose Albert Pujols to the Anaheim Angels. I am not mad at Albert for leaving. I am just sad that he doesn’t get to sit at the same table with Stan Musial and Bob Gibson as Cardinal legends any more.  

That is how I feel about Mizzou leaving the Big 12 and ending the KU-MU rivaly. I actually don’t blame Missouri for leaving the conference. In fact, I wonder if KU was asked to leave for the SEC what we might say or do?? Wouldn’t a game EVERY year at Rupp Arena vs. Kentucky be fun to watch?! But I digress. The Missouri-Kansas game is something that ALL players from both teams each year circle on the schedule and look forward to playing.  

In my four years at KU, we had a record of 124-24, won three conference titles, three conference tournament titles and were ranked No. 1 in the country for weeks at a time. Missouri, on the other hand, was inferior. No conference titles, no tournament wins, and barely even sniffed the top 25. Yet in my career, KU’s record vs. Missouri was 5-4. A rivalry. Yes, it is cliché, but KU-MU is the definition of a rivalry, and when we played each other records truly didn’t matter.  

Maybe my time now living in Missouri is getting to me or maybe I am just older and more mature, but I miss Norm Stewart. I realize he and my family had “our moments,” but if I saw him at dinner or at a bar I would like to buy him a beer. I think after all the battles we had vs. his teams what is left in my mind is respect. Quin Snyder was a disaster. Mike Anderson was boring, and dare I say Frank Haith is … nice.  

I hear coach Haith on the radio once a week in St. Louis, and he sounds sincere and like someone I would like to play for. My guess is that he will be at Missouri for a long time. A rivarly needs a villain, though, and for KU fans coach Stewart filled that role perfectly. He didn’t shake my hand for 31⁄2 years when we played against them. It wasn’t until my senior year before he extended his hand to me and said “good game.” I think Bill Self is the best coach in America, and KU is lucky to have him. Wouldn’t it be fun to see a Bill Self-coached team play a Norm Stewart-coached team one more time?? I get chills thinking about the crowd screaming “Sit Down Norm!”

Kansas’ record vs Missouri in basketball all-time is 171-94. We have dominated our biggest rivals and in the process won 54 conference championships and five national championships. I hope in the two games we play Missouri this year we beat the heck out of them and move closer to winning our eighth consecutive conference title. But I will miss Mizzou. I will miss the rivalry. I miss the Big Eight.

— Ryan Robertson is a former KU guard from St. Charles, Mo. (1996-99) who now works as sales director for Goldman-Sachs in St. Louis


jayhawker_97 10 years, 6 months ago

Ryan is one of those quiet but can-be-dangerous players on the court. nice and cool.

KCJay 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree with Ryan. I miss the Big Eight. It was the perfect size allowing each school to play each other every year. I know we are doing that now with the 10 members. But that will change in the near future. These megaconferences end up being two 8 team conferences. I'm tired of hearing that KU is bailing out of the rivalry. What about the 100+ year rivalry with Nebraska. We became comrades with Nebraska in abolishing slavery in our states. It's just a fact that when you leave your conference of many years, you leave a lot of history behind. MU decided they had to make a change for the betterment of the school. Why would you want to play a school that you're trying to get away from? Where's the logic? Oh, I forgot. We're talking about Missouri.

ccarp 10 years, 6 months ago

Interesting perspective from a man who knows the rivalry as well as any. Rock Chalk!

KU79 10 years, 6 months ago

Great article, Ryan. I miss the Big 8 too. The first day of the conference tournament, when you could watch all the teams in one day, was one of my favorite things of the year. It's amazing that we've dominated this expanded mess for so long, and hopefully take it to 8 years. A big step in keeping the conference trophy in Lawrence starts tonight. Even though the rest of the conference members usually root against us winning since we've dominated so long, I'm guessing the overwhelming majority of conference fans are on our side tonight because nobody -- nobody -- wants to hand mizzou a trophy on their way out the door. Let's beat those sonsabitches!

PurePierce 10 years, 6 months ago

Yesterday HCBS got on twitter and answered a few questions. He said if he could coach any player(s) in KU history it would be Nick and Kirk.

If you don't like and won't watch the NBA please do yourself a favor and watch OKC and Atlanta to see how well these two Jayhawks play. When we watch them we keep track of positive plays, not just points, rbs, etc. Each of them does so many non-stat things to help his team.

Watch them just once if you don't already. But be careful, it can be wonderfully addictive.

PurePierce 10 years, 6 months ago

Whoops, I should suggest you watch Boston, also. Paul (the Truth, to whom we refer as yes, Pure Pierce, as he is as pure a bballer as you will ever see) plays about the most beautiful game of basketball as there ever has been. He's best known for his complete offensive game, but his defense, both man and team, is as good or better as anyone who has played the game (and he didn't learn it from KG). Over the last several games when his point guard was out he played point forward and they had the best stretch of wins in the season.

Again, do yourself a favor and tune in.

PurePierce 10 years, 6 months ago

I sort of diverged from the string about this article so to get back to it, who can forget this Ryan Robertson highlight:

DDDHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for that memory! Winning the last game of his KU career, with no time left on the clock! Thanks, PurePierce, and thanks Ryan Robertson!

Mike Kendall 10 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, Ryan Robertson, along with Jeff Boschee, were just a few (hundred) of my favorite players. I have Ryan's autograph on a sporting magazine hung up on my KU basement office wall. Love the highlight---thanks, Pure!

jhawkbacker 10 years, 6 months ago

Ryan, during your time playing was when I really became addicted to Jayhawk basketball. I appreciate all your hard work for the team and wish you only the best. I was in the Fieldhouse to watch you beat OSU on the final free throw in OT (senior night). Awesome stuff, one of my favorite memories in the Fieldhouse. Rock Chalk!

jhawkbacker 10 years, 6 months ago

Of course, how could I forget mentioning "SHORTS ON BACKWARDS!"

Clarence Haynes 10 years, 6 months ago

I recall visiting the MIzzou locker room to meet a good friend of mine who played for Mizzou. I believe that it was Stewart's first Mizzou-KU game as head coach at AFH and after he introduced me to Norm, all that I recall was Stewart giving my friend grief for fraternizing with the enemy. We were both perplexed but after the many years of viewing the KU Mizzou rivalry during the Stewart era, I reallized that that was Norm who had a disdain for KU. Thus I just accepted it and moved on and it is unfortunate that the two schools will part ways.

Steve Brown 10 years, 6 months ago

Ryan Robertson sentiments shared perfectly.

Thank you.

Haiku moment, shake hands your final year. Haiku moment #2, Norm last year in AFH given gift of rockin' chair so he could 'sit down'.

Beautiful rivalry and Purple cats won't ever fully replace the Tiggger try as they might and hope as they do.

810 KK saying KS is the new MU to us doesn't make it so, already there west of Topeka, not so much east of Larryton.

shinguard 10 years, 6 months ago

My favorite KU-Mizzou rivalry moment came when Ryan jumped up on a table after a game at the Hearn Center and started flashing his jersey at the MU fans. Believe he was a senor and this was his first win at the Hearn Center. Ryan probably got more hate directed his way than any other KU player. Even though it was labeled as poor sportsmanship, I was proud of him for finally being able to stand up and fight back for the years of antler-abuse he and his girlfriend (who went to MU) endured.

Nice job Ryan

Rock Chalk

Michael Luby 10 years, 6 months ago

Best article Ive read all season. Thanks Ryan! RCJH

jayhawker4real 10 years, 6 months ago

Everything you said, except I'd gladly and gleefully pour that beer over Stormin' Normin's head.

lincase 10 years, 6 months ago

As I said on another thread, there are some genuine KU fans living in Missouri. Ryan, you were one of my favorite players. I will never forget what you said when Jacques Vaughn had to miss some games because of injury. You had to step in to take his place. You said that you felt like a kid who had been given permission to drive his father's car. You were going to enjoy driving it, but you had to remember to be really careful and not drive too fast!

5DecadeHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Nice Writeup Ryan,

I agree with you on most things, especially the part where you said, "Maybe my time now living in Missouri is getting to me."

You're a Jayhawk. A Loyal one, and I'm confident you always will be.

However, when you start quoting Mizery fan talking points such as, "In fact, I wonder if KU was asked to leave for the SEC what we might say or do?? " You clearly have been listening to too many tigger fans making excuses and trying to put KU down.

Just because KU's administration doesn't show their cards in public like a bunch of street walking prostitutes, doesn't mean KU hasn't had offers to join other conferences. Just because our Chancellor and Athletic director are not a bunch of crybabies to the media doesn't mean that they did not have discussions with people outside the Big12 about KU's options.

I'm positive tigger fans have beat the subject to death as if they are the only school that ever had a discussion with another conference during realignment, but let's face it, we all know that is a lie.

I know you are proud of your University, Ryan. You can be proud of the way KU has handled conference realignment. KU has worked hard to keep the Big12 intact, and for good reasons. It makes sense in every way.

Most importantly, KU has handled realignment in the best possible way. With class and dignity. The leadership in our University has the integrity to keep private conversations private. That's something crybabies like Alden and the Mizery fans shooting their mouths off around you simply cannot comprehend.

The best thing for KU is to keep a strong midwestern BCS conference alive. It minimizes travel, maintains the largest number of long running competitive series, and allows KU to remain loyal and true. Keeping the Big12 intact is what is best for KU's student athletes, KU's fans, and KU's extremely strong traditions. This is FAR superior to becoming just another school on the outkirts of a conference that has long been controlled by others that do not share Kansas values. The Big12 will be stronger than ever with the cancerous tumors removed, and will build to bigger and better things than ever before.

You're a good man, Ryan, and your article was heartfelt and well written.

Please don't let those tigger fans surrounding you get you down. You are better than that, and so is KU.

Rock Chalk

jgkojak 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree Ryan-- I am a "Big 8 guy" and think its a shame the old Big 8 couldn't stay connected - OK, I can deal w/Colorado leaving, though it was sure nice for KU to have a "western base" in CO all those years and fans able to see their Jayhawks once a year.

Here is my thought on realignment -

1) KU to the SEC Given Lawrence's and KU's history of being founded in a "free state" - there is no way hooking up w/the former conferacy makes any sense, period and KU's fan base would have revolted. And for every game in Rupp arena there's 4 games at MSU or LSU... ho hum.

2) Is this realignment necessary w/AQ status likely ending?

3) If the B10 comes calling in 3 years, what will KU do?

[If the B10 wants to get to 14 or 16 teams and maintain their AAU-only status- they have 4 choices... Rutgers, Notre Dame, ISU and KU. Notre Dame isn't committing any time soon. Iowa won't allow ISU in for recruiting purposes. So that leaves Rutgers and KS and the No. 13 and No. 14 teams in the B10. It makes sense too because the B10 likes nothing better than to compete w/the SEC, and they would be doing just that in the KC market. In fact, MU to the SEC may just make KU even more attractive to the B10].

Joseph Leon 10 years, 6 months ago

"I think Bill Self is the best coach in America, and KU is lucky to have him." That's impressive, given that Robertson himself has been coached by some pretty great coaches, like ... What's that one's name? I forget.

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