Mark Story: Dropping in on UK's new rivals

SEC newcomers Missouri, Texas A&Mpresent fresh material for Cats and their fans

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistJanuary 15, 2012 

When evaluating the "rivalry potential" new Southeastern Conference members Texas A&M and Missouri will have for Kentucky, both have possibilities.

UK has reason to feel it has historical scores to settle with Texas A&M.

It was A&M that in 1953 lured Bear Bryant away from coaching football at Kentucky after the Bear had created UK's pigskin golden age with trips to the Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls.

Even now, UK has never sniffed a similar level of football prominence.

Conversely, when Kentucky hired a major coach away from Texas A&M — a men's basketball coach named Bill Gillispie in 2009 — that did not exactly make up for losing the Bear.

In the major sports, Kentucky is 1-1 all time against Texas A&M in football, 2-1 in men's basketball and has never played A&M in women's hoops.

Yet even allowing for Wildcats grievances toward the Aggies, the better bet from the two new SEC schools to become a genuine UK rival is Mizzou.

The two universities are in states that share a contiguous border (UK-Missouri could be the game of the year in the Paducah/Cape Girardeau market).

At least initially, both Kentucky and Missouri will play football in the SEC East.

For its first season in the SEC next school year, Missouri has already tabbed Kentucky as its football homecoming opponent. Presumably, that should provide Joker Phillips and the Wildcats with some motivational impetus when they visit Columbia on Oct. 27.

All time, Kentucky is 4-0 against Missouri in men's basketball and 1-1 in women's hoops.

Football, however, gives things a little extra rivalry flavor. Turns out, Kentucky and Missouri have a discrepancy in the all-time record of their pigskin series.

Kentucky says it is 2-0 all-time against Mizzou. Missouri says things stand 2-1.

Both schools show Kentucky beating Missouri twice in the 1960s. UK won the 1965 season opener 7-0 in Columbia. Three seasons later, Missouri traveled to Lexington to open the 1968 campaign and took a 12-7 loss.

The disagreement comes from way back in 1904.

On Oct. 22 of that year, Missouri's media guide shows the Tigers blasting Kentucky 37-6. Yet according to the UK media brochure, on that exact day Kentucky was at Cincinnati absorbing an 11-0 defeat (the only loss in a 9-1 season for Coach F.E. Schacht's team. That F.E. Schacht was flat getting the job done).

Since I'm always up for a little historical detective work, I decided to try to find out what gives. Turns out, Missouri has committed an understandable case of mistaken identity.

According to The Kentucky Encyclopedia, the school we now call the University of Kentucky was known in 1904 as "State College." That was who was in Cincinnati losing on 10/22/1904.

The same day, Missouri was in fact putting a pounding on "Kentucky University." However, in 1904 the school then called "Kentucky U." is the one we know today as Transylvania University.

After checking, current Transylvania Sports Information Director Glenn Osborne confirmed that Transy's football records show it was its team that lost to Missouri in 1904 (Transylvania suspended its football program in 1941).

The Kentucky Encyclopedia says that "Kentucky University" started going by (actually reverted back to the name of) Transylvania in 1908. That same year, "State College" (now UK) began calling itself "State University."

It was 1916 when UK officially adopted the name "University of Kentucky."

For that reason, Osborne says mine was hardly the first call he has fielded about name confusion with UK. "It's very common for schools to call us confused about who they actually played from the 'Kentucky University days,'" Osborne said. "In this case, Missouri was playing Transy, not UK."

When I called him, Chad Moller, the Missouri football publicist, was unaware of the discrepancy with UK on the all-time football series records between the schools but said he would look into it.

Tony Neely, Kentucky football's primary spokesman, said Friday he had gotten an email from Moller this week about the situation.

"I think by the time we play them, Missouri will have corrected its records," Neely said.

Accuracy is always the way to go — even if it would be more fun in stoking a new rivalry if Kentucky and Missouri persisted in disagreeing.

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service