Give me a break, says Brian Brooks, a former Missouri student who is now an associate dean and professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. "I hate to lose the rivalry as much as I can't stand Kansas, but we've offered to continue it, and they're the ones saying no." The demise of the Border War, in that case, "is clearly on them."
"They're just feeling hurt right now because they have no place to go. If the Big Ten offered to take Kansas, they'd be out of there tomorrow."
An undergrad in the 1960s, Brooks is old enough to remember the '60 Border War. Kansas beat the 9--0 Tigers with a backfield stacked with future pros including Bert Coan, who, it was later revealed, had accepted a plane ride from a booster. Despite being stripped of that victory by the Big Eight, the Jayhawks insist on counting it as a win in the series, which, according to them, now stands at 55-55-9.
"Typical Kansas arrogance," fumes Brooks. "They cheated, were ordered by the conference to forfeit and still claim the game as a win."
What we are seeing, in the disintegration of the rivalry, is evidence of why it is such a great one. "It's something that we need to hold on to," said Luke Lambert, a Tigers senior linebacker. "A lot of teams don't have a game like this. This has been going on for hundreds of years," he said, exaggerating only slightly.
"It's an honor to be playing in this game," says Darrien Miller, a Jayhawks freshman running back from Blue Springs, Mo., who still catches heat from people back home for "going to the dark side"—i.e., Lawrence.
"We hate them, they hate us," says Missouri offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach David Yost.
Saturday's Border War will serve as a measuring stick to see how far each program has fallen since 2007, the high-water mark of this game, when No. 3 Missouri beat second-ranked Kansas 36--28. The showdown may also serve as a capstone for a rivalry that is nowhere near ready to die.
One thin wall separates the room for postgame media interviews at Faurot Field from the Tigers' locker room. It was in the latter space, 20 or so minutes after the win over the Red Raiders, that defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton revealed still another tradition. He did this by leading his teammates in a Kansas-specific cheer:
"Rock chalk, chicken hawk," he bellowed.