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THE BORDER WAR LIVES ON, IN PRINT AT LEAST
COLUMBIA, MO (October 16, 2013) - The Border War hostilities between Missouri and Kansas - both the real thing during the 1800s and the football version - shared a common theme. There was intense fighting without any major national impact.



Mark Godich bought the DVD set of Ken Burns' voluminous documentary about the Civil War and noted there was a barely a mention of Bleeding Kansas or Osceola. Likewise, while working in New York as an editor at Sports Illustrated, he noticed nobody knew or cared that the Tigers and Jayhawks were bitter rivals.



"Everyone hears about Texas-OU and Ohio State-Michigan and Auburn-Alabama," Godich said. "It was always a rivalry that endured, even as bad as the football was at times. It was still always there, but I don't think anyone around here ever really knew or appreciated that rivalry."



They had little reason to care, because, with the exception of 1960, when Kansas denied Missouri the national title by beating the Tigers 23-7 - only to later forfeit the game for using an ineligible player - the outcomes didn't affect the race to the national championship. At least one team and usually both were lousy.



That changed in 2007, when Missouri and Kansas went from unranked in the preseason to a collision at Arrowhead Stadium in the regular-season finale with the nation's No. 1 ranking on the line. Godich, a graduate of the MU School of Journalism, was so intrigued with the forces that led to that improbable showdown that he wrote a book about it.



For the better part of two years, starting in July 2010, Godich researched and conducted interviews with administrators, coaches, players and reporters. The result is "Tigers vs. Jayhawks: From the Civil War to the Battle for No. 1," which is available now at local bookstores, the Rally House shop and online at Amazon.com and Ascendbooks.com.



Godich recounts his introduction to Missouri football after arriving from Texas as a freshman in 1975. He jumped right into an era in which the Tigers inexplicably beat highly ranked teams and then lost to lightweights, including - too often for Coach Al Onofrio's job security - Kansas. He then skips back to the Civil War, detailing the real hostilities that begat the sports rivalry, and follows the fortunes of both teams for the century leading up to the Gary Pinkel and Mark Mangino coaching tenures.



Entering 2007, nothing special was expected of Missouri or Kansas. The Jayhawks had a soft nonconference schedule and, by the luck of the draw, did not have to play Big 12 South contenders Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. But there was no doubt Kansas was a well-coached and disciplined team with a creative quarterback in Todd Reesing.



The Tigers opened the season with a win over Illinois, which would go on to play in the Rose Bowl, and went on to win nine of the next 10, with the lone loss by a 41-31 score at Oklahoma. Missouri was loaded with future NFL players and had the perfect quarterback, Chase Daniel, to distribute the ball to all those weapons.



As the season wore on, the game on the border at Arrowhead - the first of five times the teams met there - loomed larger. There was no dominant team in college football that year, and the No. 1 ranking was gained and lost numerous times. When LSU was upset by Arkansas on the day before "Armageddon at Arrowhead" it was clear that the winner of No. 4 Missouri vs. No. 2 Kansas would be the new No. 1.



If you are a Missouri fan over the age of 6, that game is probably your favorite of all time. The atmosphere of a bitterly cold night at Arrowhead was the best I've ever experienced. Godich breaks down the 36-28 Missouri victory series by series through interviews with Pinkel, Mangino, MU assistants Dave Christensen and David Yost, quarterbacks Daniel and Reesing and several other key players. Perhaps the most telling quote that summed up the emotion involved in playing a game of that magnitude - and winning - came from MU Athletic Director Mike Alden about something he saw as the game ended.



"I turn around and there's a guy, he's 70-plus years old, probably 80-plus," Alden told Godich. "He's a Mizzou guy. He's crying like a baby. And he's yelling at me, saying, 'I never thought I'd see this before I died.' "



Fortunately, that guy got the chance, because the teams no longer play because of animosity about Missouri leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. Godich hopes that absence makes the desire to revel in the rivalry greater.



After all, he's got a book to sell.



"It might make people yearn for it a little bit more," Godich said. "My first concern when they stopped playing was, 'Would there be any interest?' It seems to me that people are saying that these teams should be playing and it's kind of silly that they're not. I'd like to think that they might play again. I think the fact they haven't played in a few years and we're six years removed from this game now, it might help people reminisce about what a special night it was."



About Rally House

Rally House began in 1989 as Kansas Sampler, a mail-order company founded by Peg and Tim Liebert that specialized in local and regional gifts. Rally House currently operates stores throughout Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas with plans to continue expansion into Michigan in 2014. The company stays true to its roots by offering a great selection of team-related apparel and gifts, including exclusive designs found only at Rally House.