When Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC nearly four years ago, it also left its biggest rival behind.
In response, Kansas froze its most hated neighbor out of the next season’s basketball schedule, ending a series that began in 1907. The Jayhawks’ message: “They knew when they made the decision that this was going to be something that could affect the future of the relationship.”
That was Kansas coach Bill Self speaking to STLToday.com‘s Vahe Gregorian in February 2012.
Now, in the midst of a fourth straight season without Missouri on the schedule, Self might be softening a little bit, saying the freeze out is not “permanent,” and mentioning that he’s “good friends” with Missouri coach Kim Anderson.
“I would say it’s probably in our court as much as anything, on who needs to make the next move,” Self told SEC Country during a Monday teleconference. “Missouri made a choice to do what they did that was best for them over time, and since then, we’ve made a choice, basically, to end the series. I’m not saying it’s permanent by any stretch, but for the time being, and I think that’s a decision that was made that everybody on board — including the administrators on our campus — is totally fine with and wanted.”
The schools last played on Feb. 25, 2012, when Kansas overcame a 19-point second-half deficit to beat Missouri in overtime, 87-86. The Tigers rebounded to win their final Big 12 tournament.
But Missouri has struggled mightily since, and is now dealing with self-imposed sanctions that occurred under the watch of former coach Frank Haith. Kansas, meanwhile, has continued to maintain its status as a national power.
Self said another Final Four run — not its border rivalry — is on the Jayhawks’ minds at the moment.
“I don’t know exactly where it’s at,” he said. “We have not discussed that in months what our changes would be or what we wanted to do with it. I know we play a remarkable schedule each year and they probably do, too, and I’m real good friends with Kim Anderson, and it’s nothing personal with any of us. It’s just the situation that everybody’s allowed to do what they feel like is best, and at this point in time, it just hasn’t fit to what we want to do.”
Kansas will face Kentucky in the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday night in Lawrence (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).