When I was less than a year old I went to my first Golden Gopher basketball game, and I’ve been raised to loath the Badgers ever since. My mother grew up in Wisconsin and she hates it! Wisconsin disgusts me. Not to mention, every time Bo Ryan comes into Williams Arena he takes another kid from our backyard home with him as Gopher Nation grinds their teeth. Taylor, Leuer, Bruesewitz all could’ve just stayed home and happily went into halftime having shot into a silent Barnyard. But rivalries are what makes a fan a fan. Every fan knows that loving their team means hating that team’s arch-rival just as much. But there’s one thing that can wipe away these rivalries and the great tradition that comes with them…money.
The other day Syracuse and UConn played each other for the last time as members of the Big East. The death of Big East basketball, one of the premiere conferences in college basketball perennially, is due to a group of teams within the conference known as the “Catholic 7” or as I like to call them, “The sense of the Big East”. This refers to the seven schools in the current Big East who are part of major college basketball but don’t compete in major college football. They know what the Big East has always been about and who belongs. Basketball schools are the Big East. But money talks, schools with major college football programs leave the doormat of a football conference that is the Big East in pursuit of revenue that is generated in the premiere football conferences. What makes the Big East a doormat in football you ask? The Big East, or in this case, the schools leaving the Big East. I’m talking to you Rutgers. Prepare to get you chrome helmets dirty in the Big Ten, that game’s played in the trenches. Meanwhile, schools with premiere basketball programs such as Marquette, Georgetown, and Villanova are forced to leave the conference that they helped build due to their competitors greed. It’s just not right.
Missouri became Missouruh when they decided to join the SEC. The heart of the Midwest trying to blend in with the NASCAR crowd. But aside from the geographic and cultural differences between Missouri and the rest of the SEC, Mizzou decided to throw away one of the greatest rivalries in college sports. The Missouri-Kansas rivalry dates back to the civil war. In fact, The Kansas Jayhawks’ nickname refers to the anti-slavery activists known as “The Jayhawkers”, who fought against pro-slavery Missouri during civil war times. It’s Kansas’ own passive-aggresive shot at Missouri. It’s personal. But this classic Big 12 rivalry was layed to rest 121 years after the first meeting due to Missouri’s pursuit of riches that come with the elite conference in college football. If money says the Tigers should be cellar-dwellers in the SEC football conference and throw away the classic Missouri-Kansas rivalry, then so be it.
We know one thing, Duke and UNC aren’t going anywhere. This classic rivalry will stay in tact, because these too rivals know their place. They’re basketball schools, just like Marquette, Georgetown, Villanova, Syracuse, and UConn. If we could only have one, most of America would probably be content with the UNC-Duke rivalry, but unfortunately that’s all we can hang our hat on. If only we didn’t need to settle, if only we had a world where the Syracuse-UConn, Missouri-Kansas, and Duke-UNC rivalries could all stay in tact.