Prediction: Which SEC Team Will Be Mizzou’s New Interconference Rival?
Each year there is one game that every Mizzou fan always circles on their calendar: Kansas. Whether it be football or basketball, Mizzou-Kansas is one of the greatest rivalries in all of college sports. The Border War games between the two schools have gone down as some of the universities’ greatest, but with Mizzou’s move to the SEC from the Big 12, the series is unfortunately coming to an end.
Mizzou would love to continue the rivalry with KU, but Kansas has no interest in playing Mizzou, saying it betrayed the conference. The Jayhawks will always be Missouri’s greatest rival, but with the Tigers’ conference change, they will need to find a new SEC inter-conference rival.
Who should that SEC rival be? There is only one answer for Mizzou fans: Arkansas. The SEC confirmed Mizzou fans’ beliefs that Arkansas should be the Tigers’ new conference rival by choosing the two schools to play each other in football as cross-division rivals. While that distinction is a good start in creating a new rivalry, recent history between the two schools in both football and basketball further establish a struggle between the Tigers and Razorbacks.
Some of the biggest battles for football teams is on the recruiting trail. On this field, Mizzou and Arkansas began their football rivalry. Last season’s number one recruit, Dorial Green-Beckham (DGB), had both schools as his top two choices for playing on the college level. Green-Beckham, a huge wide receiver with a ton of upside, visited both schools throughout the recruiting process, and which school he would choose to attend was a toss up. Arkansas and Missouri had to give DGB their best pitch for their school and why the other school wouldn’t be the right fit. In the end, DGB chose Mizzou, spurning Arkansas and its fans in favor of his home-state Tigers. Arkansas was devastated by the loss of DGB, and a recruiting rivalry was born. There will be many more battles on the recruiting trail between the two schools, especially with Mizzou’s SEC move. Adding games to the mix will just make the battles that much greater.
While football has good grounds for a rivalry with Arkansas, the basketball team takes the cake in proving why Arkansas should be the new SEC rival for the Tigers. Before Frank Haith, Mike Anderson was the Mizzou basketball head coach, leading the team to great heights never seen before in Columbia. Anderson was wildly popular, and many schools were rumored to be interested in his patented “40 minutes of hell” offense. Coach Anderson always dispelled these rumors, saying that he wanted to remain in Missouri. However, when Arkansas offered him a job two years ago, he jumped at the chance, despite his former statements. Anderson’s blatant lies confused and angered fans who had believed his promises to remain loyal to the school.
Now Mizzou basketball has a beloved coach in Frank Haith, but fans will never forget the hatred they feel for the dishonest Anderson and his new Arkansas team. Sounds like the start to a good rivalry to me. Anderson will make his first trip back to Columbia this season with his Razorbacks, and Mizzou Arena is sure to be rocking for the occasion.
All these off-field issues have already sparked some flames between the bordering state schools. Add in the natural heat that comes from game time over the next couple of years, and fans better believe that a new inter-conference rivalry will be born.