Could the Border War be coming back?
For at least one day in the not-too-distant future, that may very well be the case.
After Twitter reports and talk radio chatter surfaced Thursday afternoon about a potential Kansas-Missouri men’s basketball scrimmage at Sprint Center later this month, a KU official confirmed to the Journal-World that the KU athletic department had been in talks with Missouri about a potential event that would involve the two basketball programs and raise money for hurricane relief.
“We have had discussions about an event,” KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said on Thursday afternoon. “But any specifics or details at this time would be premature.”
NCAA rules allow teams to play two exhibition contests per season against non-Division I opponents, meaning KU and MU likely would need the permission of the NCAA — be it in the form of a waiver or something similar — in order to play the scrimmage and still stay within the rules.
Marchiony said both schools were exploring that option.
Hosting such a game, at Sprint Center, on campus or even on the moon, no doubt would create quite a buzz between the former Big 12 rivals whose history dates back more than 100 years.
Many have speculated that Oct. 22 is the date to watch for the potential scrimmage. If it happens, Marchiony said only players eligible for the upcoming 2017-18 season would be allowed to play in the scrimmage, meaning KU transfers Dedric and K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore would not be eligible to play.
Long considered the longest continuous rivalry west of the Mississippi River, and one of the most intense rivalries in all of sports, the Border War came to an abrupt end when Missouri chose to leave the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference following the 2011-12 school year.
KU and Missouri have faced each other in a couple of sports since the Tigers’ departure, but those meetings — in softball and volleyball — came in postseason play and were not scheduled by the two schools.
With Missouri’s basketball program finding new life with the recent hire of head coach Cuonzo Martin and the arrival of Michael Porter Jr., the No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2017, many MU supporters have been clamoring for the revival of the Border War. While the KU athletic department has remained strong in its stance that it was Missouri that left the conference, and, therefore, ended the rivalry, the opportunity to showcase two exciting teams in an exhibition setting for a good cause makes sense.
KU, which leads the all-time series with MU, 173-95, won 11 of the last 13 men’s basketball meetings between the two rivals, including the final game, a thrilling, 87-86, come-from-way-behind victory at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 25, 2012.
The Jayhawks trailed by 19 points midway through that game and came all the way back to win in overtime, thanks to some clutch play by Thomas Robinson on both ends of the floor — including a monster block of Phil Pressey on the final play of regulation — and a ton of energy from the Allen Fieldhouse fans.
While this month’s scrimmage, should it happen, likely would draw crazy interest from both fan bases, it’s hard to envision it living up to the craziness of the old battles.