Kansas, Missouri fans say goodbye to Border Showdown

Saturday, November 26, 2011 | 4:15 p.m. CST; updated 8:14 p.m. CST, Saturday, November 26, 2011
Kansas fan Luke Gunter falls after playing a round of "dizzy bat" with his friend Drew Robbins, a Missouri fan, on the Missouri tailgating side of Arrowhead Stadium before the Missouri vs. Kansas game on Saturday. Gunter agreed to tailgate on the Missouri side with Robbins if they watched the game in the Kansas fan section.

KANSAS CITY — It's a scene that played out all afternoon in the cold, wind-swept parking lots surrounding Arrowhead Stadium.

The recipe is simple: Start with a mixture of Kansas and Missouri fans. Add alcohol. Wait for the argument to begin.

Jayhawks fan Sean Call began by crushing a Bud Light under his left foot. With steam rising from his shaved head, he told friend and Missouri fan Colin Laughlin how he feels about the end of the rivalry.

"MU’s lucky to have us," he said.

Overhearing the conversation, Denise Galligher walked from a nearby tent.

"You guys are the ones who took the ball like little babies and went home," she fired back, laughing.

Laughlin then launched into a profanity-laced rant that started relevant to Missouri and Kansas and somehow got knocked off track.

Not everyone was so passionate, but virtually every mixed group of Jayhawks and Tigers fans seemed to be playing some version of the Border Showdown blame game, trying to assess whose fault it is that Saturday's game might be the last in the series, and what the fallout from the end of one of college football’s oldest rivalries might mean.

"It's not our fault," Kansas fan Dave Bratton said. "We play Big 12 teams."

On the other side, Missouri fans put the onus on the Kansas administration's failure to yield to pressure to continue playing the series. Missouri's athletic department has expressed its desire to continue the game as a non-conference series.

"I don't see why we can't just do it like we used to with Illinois and play it at the beginning of the season," Missouri fan Kevin Addington said. "These fans can't stand each other; it doesn't matter when we play."

Jayhawks fan Brian Stultz thought some time apart might make the relationship a little stronger.

"I hope we next meet in a bowl game or in the NCAA (basketball) Tournament," he said. "And when we do, I'm bringing my brass knuckles."

One thing everyone could agree on is the lack of electricity around the matchup — and the parking lots — this season.

Kansas students had purchased fewer than 500 tickets as of Wednesday, according to the Kansas City Star.

At kickoff, there looked to be almost as many empty seats at Arrowhead Stadium as full ones. The parking lots seemed sparsely populated, and the legendary pregame Arrowhead traffic failed to live up to the hype.

"There's no buzz this year," Missouri fan Shane Kinne said. "It's because KU sucks."

The Jayhawks carry a nine-game losing streak into the game, and are trying to avoid becoming the first team in Big 12 history to lose nine conference games.

The end of the series might just be the only reason for Kansas fans to show up.

"We’re having kind of a rough season," Jayhawks fan Kevin Bruns said. "When I heard this was the last game, I made the decision that I had to go anyway."

Back over at Laughlin and Call's parking spot, Call was inventing new ways to hate Missouri even after the rivalry ends.

"I'm shopping for an SEC team to adopt so I can root against Missouri," Call said. "I'm thinking Arkansas might be a good choice."

The conversation quickly degraded into more obscenities and yelling. There were disparaging comments about Missouri coach Gary Pinkel's recent DWI arrest and former Kansas coach Mark Mangino's weight.

Then, after they both had cooled off, Laughlin and Call tapped their foreheads together, calling a truce as they literally butted heads.

"I wish it didn't have to end," Laughlin said, shaking his head.

Call opened his cooler and poured himself and Laughlin a drink.

"I don’t like it!" a fan yelled nearby. "It's Mizzou's fault!"

Call and Laughlin sipped their drinks. There was no need to start the same argument again.

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chris hamilton November 26, 2011 | 10:37 p.m.

My betting money is that KU will cave and re-start the football scheduling with MU. KU claims 226 victories in both football and basketball together versus MU 150 victories. Maybe KU has something to fight for, after football losing years of late, huh.

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