Missouri wants to continue Kansas rivalry

November, 8, 2011

First-year Missouri coach Frank Haith wants to play Kansas in a home-and-home series when the Tigers move to the SEC. Haith would like to alternate campus sites each season and not simply limit the rivalry to a neutral-site game in Kansas City.

Haith would love to see the two longtime rivals continue their games much like a number of other nonconference series that match rivals from the same state or border states. Haith plans on continuing the series with Illinois in St. Louis but wants the Kansas rivalry to move to the home-and-home setup.

The other nonconference rivalry examples Haith gave were Florida-Florida State, Kentucky-Louisville, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Clemson-South Carolina and Wisconsin-Marquette. Haith could have added Creighton-Nebraska, New Mexico-New Mexico State, Utah State-BYU, Utah State-Utah and most recently Utah-BYU to that list.

But Texas has chosen not to play Texas A&M in football for the foreseeable future, once the Aggies leave for the SEC next season.

And Kansas coach Bill Self has made it clear that he doesn't feel the need to continue the rivalry with Missouri once the Tigers leave the Big 12. BYU felt scorned when Utah left the Mountain West for the Pac-12 last season. But after those bitter feelings were soothed, the two schools came to their senses and continued with a home-and-home series in football and men's basketball. That makes the most sense for Kansas and Missouri.

"I would love to continue to play Kansas because the rivalry has gone on for over 119 years,'' Haith said Tuesday. "It would be great for all of us and great for them. I'm hopeful that it will continue. I don't know how it would work, but I'd love to play the home-and-homes.''

Missouri will play football in the SEC East, but Haith is hopeful the SEC basketball schedule won't be tied to a football format the way it is this season with one 12-team alignment. Haith, like Kentucky's John Calipari, is in favor of a 16-game SEC schedule. That would call for playing each of the 13 teams once and playing three teams twice.

"I'm hoping that we would play the teams closer to us twice, like Arkansas home-and-home and maybe the Mississippi schools or Vanderbilt or maybe Texas A&M,'' Haith said.

Haith said the move to the SEC will be a benefit for Missouri in recruiting, much like it will be for Texas A&M. New Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy, who is on a leave of absence after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, said recently that he is a good fit in the SEC because of his strong recruiting ties in the Southeast. Haith, who worked for only a few weeks in South Carolina, coached at Miami and Wake Forest and in Texas.

"There are a lot of ties for us in the Southeast and Southwest,'' Haith said. "We still have to do a good job recruiting in the Midwest since that is our foundation in recruiting. But I do think this opens up more doors for us. We have to be creative.''

The SEC is expected to discuss a number of scheduling scenarios throughout the season and before the spring meetings begin. Of course, Missouri still needs to officially leave the Big 12 in time for the 2012 season. The Tigers might have to wait if the Big 12 can't replace Missouri with West Virginia, which currently is in a legal battle over its departure from the Big East.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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