I have to admit, for the first time in my life a Mean Girls quote has been dancing around my head all weekend... ever since Brett McMurphy briefly sent the Kansas City metropolitan area into a tizzy with some weak Friday morning content. (Editor’s note: Mean Girls quotes often dance around in my head and I love it)
In the intervening days since Brett McMurphy’s report that Missouri was ducking a chance to play the Big 12’s third best 6-6 team, I’ve been turning over the reporting in my head. The specific wording, the way it was framed in the larger context of his “story,” etc. And I believe I’ve come to the conclusion that one of two distinct possibilities is what led up to publishing.
1. Indirect overtures were made to both programs from the Liberty Bowl about the possibility of reviving the Border War in Memphis. One or both programs — though almost certainly Mizzou — politely declined these overtures for any myriad of reasons. The program in Lawrence, seeing an opportunity to bolster their profile after sliding face-first into a 1-6 end to the season, chose to leak the fact that, “Missouri doesn’t want to play us in the Liberty Bowl,” while conveniently leaving out any contextual information. That’s easy pickings for a reporter, who’s sure to generate clicks once he can verify that the source is reputable.
2. McMurphy, doing his dutiful rounds for scoops in the bowl world, catches wind that, “Missouri doesn’t want to play kansas in the Liberty Bowl,” and decides, “hey, that should make for an attention grabbing headline and some extra clicks from an audience that almost certainly never reads my work on Action Network HQ.” Again, he likely decided that the contextual information either wasn’t worth printing or pursuing before his editors hit publish and his editors decided, “what the heck, it’ll generate some more clicks.”
First, congrats to McMurphy, who did his job cynically, but well. I’m spending my Saturday night writing about it, after all.
Second, either of these scenarios requires McMurphy to be dishonest at worst and an absolute hack at best. When it’s so blindly clear that their reporting is lacking any supporting structure — because what football reason would Missouri possibly have for not playing kansas, whom they’ve already scheduled in the coming years? — it’s hard to give a reporter the benefit of the doubt that they’re anything but. Again, congratulations to Brett McMurphy on the engagement. Maybe Elon Musk will knock a few bucks off his Twitter Blue subscription next year.
In reality, though, the bigger takeaway that I have in all of this nonsense is the ultimately laughable conclusion that kansas — despite its rags-to-riches, blue-collar tale of defying the odds to get throttled down the stretch and still manage a .500 finish in the country’s most milquetoast conference — still needs Missouri to return to football relevance.
What other reason could there be for talking to McMurphy (and if you don’t think it was those folks to the west that talked, I’ve got some prime real estate to sell you)? A trip to a mediocre bowl game does nothing for the jayhawks, who are still nowhere near the top of a conference that’s about to lose its two premier programs. Sure, they could win a seventh game for the first time since the Kingdom of Nepal was a sovereign state, but is that going to change the fact that Lance Leipold is headed for greener pastures the moment he gets a suitable offer? Is it going to earn them an invite to another power conference that will suddenly want them? Is it going to change the fact that they’re still the perpetual little brother to their rivals in Manhattan? Will it magically convince the best players in the country to forsake the rich pastures of NIL wealth to settle down in Lawrence? Will it raise their program’s standing in an athletic department that has long held them in contempt when compared to Bill Self’s juggernaut?
The answer to those, and any other question you could ask about kansas’ return to relevance, is “no.” No one has talked about the jayhawks in two months, and when the administrative response to that is, “let’s drag Missouri into this,” that’s pretty telling. Mizzou Football isn’t in the best shape its ever been in, but it’s well beyond the thought of needing kansas to gain any sort of traction in the national conversation.
Notable College Football Scores
Utah 47, USC 24
Kansas State 31, TCU 28
Georgia 50, LSU 30
Michigan 43, Purdue 22