To play or not to play? That seems to be the big question on everyone's mind with Missouri's announcement that they will explore other conference affiliations. I suppose the important distinction at this point is that they are going to "look at leaving" the Big 12 but have not decided to leave. With past moves being a strong indicator, this would seem to mean that the Tigers will ultimately move but those in the Big 12 will obviously do what they can to persuade them otherwise.
Assuming they leave, assuming Missouri and Kansas are no longer in the same conference, what happens to one of the longest standing rivalries in college sports? And to be clear this isn't your run of the mill rivalry, these fanbases point to the civil war as justification of their hate and it's about as hostile a rivalry as you will find in the country.
Ask someone in either fanbase and you'll find mixed opinions. Some believe the rivalry is the most important thing and it should continue regardless of the direct benefit to one school or another. Some believe it becomes a no-win situation. And still others would be glad to rid themselves and their sporting lives of the other side.
Obviously Missouri has to look out for Missouri in this whole mess and if Kansas had a similar opportunity I think you'd see most fans lobbying hard for a similar move. So from that standpoint I don't have any hard feelings or blame Mizzou for doing what they have to do. At the same time you're talking about a rivalry that invokes strong emotions and Kansas is in a spot where their future is being jeopardized by a program that they hate. Some of the commentary coming from Bill Self and Kansas seems to reflect that initial feeling following last nights announcement.
"If they choose to be somewhere other than with us and with the other schools that they've been a part of and could jeopardize the future of the other schools ... I'm not going to make a commitment now that we'd ever play again. I'm not saying we won't. I'm certainly not going to pretend that we would."
So which is it? To play or not to play?
At the moment there wouldn't seem to be much for Kansas football to gain in playing Missouri if they are not a conference partner. Missouri is better and Kansas needs to compile non-conference wins to move the program in the right direction. For Missouri you might argue that it presents a no-win situation because if you lose it is considered an upset and you are benefiting a program that you will still compete with from a recruiting standpoint.
The same can be said on the basketball side of things for Kansas. Missouri would almost become a no-win scenario for Kansas basketball as a non-conference matchup and Bill Self has obviously indicated that he doesn't see a need to help a Missouri program that is no longer a conference partner.
Tough call but it will be a big question going forward if Missouri and Kansas do find themselves in different conferences. I guess if I'm looking for positives in not playing it is simply the fact that my blood pressure will automatically improve for at least three days a year.