The SEC’s expansion to 14 teams caused the destruction of two rivalries that show no signs of reviving. Missouri’s Border War with Kansas and Texas A&M’s feud with Texas were mainstays in college sports dating back to the 19th century, but each ended with the Tigers’ and Aggies’ departure for Eastern pastures.
And — wouldn’t you know it? — each breakup was the other guy’s fault.
Missouri president R. Bowen Loftin told John Talty of AL.com he met with Kansas counterpart Bernadette Gray-Little to bring back the Border War at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. He even believed the deal would get done. So why didn’t it?
“The problem was a man named Bill Self who made it very clear this wasn’t going to happen,” Loftin said.
Bill Byrne, the AD at Texas A&M at the time of the Aggies’ SEC-ession, said he told the SEC to keep Thanksgiving weekend open. Until DeLoss Dodds ended the rivalry.
“Their AD (DeLoss Dodds) at the time came out and said we will never play Texas A&M again, and they worked along with Baylor and the conference to have no one in the (Big 12) schedule us,” Byrne said. “There were other forces at work to make sure we didn’t play.”
Of course, Dodds and Self could counter that each had plans to continue their respective rivalries… as members of the Big 12.
And ’round and ’round it goes.
With pride and pettiness getting in the way of pragmatism, it seems fans of each rivalry are forced to settle for periodic wars of words instead of actual battles on the field. And that’s a bad result for college sports, no matter whose fault it is.