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Douche Baggins
11-23-2007, 11:41 PM
http://www.kansascity.com/180/story/374518.html

Border War 1960: a score to settle
In front of a record crowd in Columbia, KU pounded MU in 1960 with an attack that featured Bert Coan (below), who was later declared ineligible.
In front of a record crowd in Columbia, KU pounded MU in 1960 with an attack that featured Bert Coan (below), who was later declared ineligible.

Biggest Missouri-Kansas game ever? Bah! Humbug! We’re always doing this in sports, always jumping the gun, always declaring some 18-year-old kid the greatest player ever, always hyping our games before they’re even played. It’s not just the championship of the NFL — no, it’s the Super Bowl (with Roman numerals to boot). It’s not just a set of games to determine this year’s best baseball team — no, it’s the World Series.

Is tonight’s Missouri-Kansas game big? Sure it is. Kansas is ranked No. 2 in America, Missouri is ranked No. 3. That’s big. They have one loss between them. That’s big. The winner will go to the Big 12 championship game next week and have a shot then to play in the national championship game a month later. Big. Sure.

But let me ask you this: Will people still be arguing about this game in the year 2054?

•••

Yes, that’s right, for 47 years now, Missouri and Kansas have played football twice every season. The first game has been on the field, and, admittedly, that has not always been especially entertaining. Missouri ran up the score a few times. Kansas pulled off a few heart-stomping victories. Most of it flew by unnoticed, except to the people raised on Kansas and Missouri hostility.

But there has been another game going on for all those years, a game that even now is unsettled. Ask a Missouri expert what the overall record is between Kansas and Missouri, as I did, and she will tell you plainly that it is 53-53-9. Exactly even. Tonight’s winner, in addition to all those other good things, will also take the series lead.

Ah, but ask a Kansas expert the same thing, and she will tell you that Kansas leads the rivalry 54-52-9. And that means that no matter who wins the game tonight, Kansas will maintain the overall series lead.

The one game in question, as you probably know, happened in 1960. On that November day, in front of what was to that point the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Columbia, the Jayhawks pounded the Tigers 23-7. Or they didn’t. They handed Missouri its first loss of the year. Or they didn’t. They won the Big Eight Conference championship. Or they didn’t. They destroyed what, until this season, was the most glorious and remarkable season in the 100-plus years they have been playing football at the University of Missouri.

Or they didn’t.

It all depends whom you ask. And the funny part is that the game is just as likely to start an argument today as it was in 1960, depending on the age and memories of the Kansas and Missouri people around you.

In the Kansas media guide, they put an easy-to-miss asterisk below the game. In the Missouri game notes, which the sports information staff puts out before every game, they have instead put a more straightforward parenthetical comment at the end.

1960: Kansas 23, Missouri 7 (they cheated)

•••

How did Kansas cheat? Well, before we get to that, we should mention just how good Missouri was in 1960. Before playing Kansas, the Tigers had outscored opponents 267-56 — nobody had even come close to beating them. They had only once allowed more than a touchdown in a game. The defense was so good that The New York Times was calling it “illustrious” and “unmatched” before the season was even through. Apparently the need to hype is not unique to our time.

The Tigers’ defense was good, led by the great defensive end Danny LaRose, who inspired sportswriters to come up with as many alliterations for the word “giant” as they could find (“gentle giant,” “genial giant,” etc). He was 228 pounds of muscle, according to The Associated Press, and he played both ways (tight end on offense) — three ways if you consider that he also punted.

“He’s one of the two best players I’ve seen all year,” a Navy scout said, which might not be worth noting except that Navy scout was named Steve Belichick, and he had a son named Bill who was 8 years old and, undoubtedly, was already watching film for this week’s Eagles game. The other player Steve Belichick liked, incidentally, was future Hall of Famer and coaching madman Mike Ditka.

Anyway, with LaRose dominating games, and with Missouri coach Dan Devine’s powerful running offense — led by running backs Mel West and Norris Stevenson, the first two black players to go to Missouri — the Tigers were considered pretty close to unbeatable. They were ranked No. 1 by both the coaches and the writers. They were touchdown favorites to beat Kansas.

The Jayhawks, meanwhile, were undefeated in Big Eight play as well. Their two losses all season were close ones to Syracuse and Iowa — and both were ranked No. 1 in the country when Kansas played them. You have to believe that Kansas in 1960 set a record by playing three different teams who were ranked No. 1 the week they played.

The Jayhawks were led by what sportswriters called their “brilliant backfield,” which had “more stars than the Milky Way.” The backfield featured All-American John Hadl, future Pro Bowler Curtis McClinton and a remarkable talent named Bert Coan, who had already caused Kansas football fans thrills and heartaches.

The thrills came from his talent. Coan was a big and strong back with track-star speed. He was so talented, in fact, that after he signed to play at Texas Christian, he was still given a free flight to a college all-star game by a benevolent millionaire named Bud Adams. You might recognize Bud Adams’ name — he was one of the original founders of the American Football League and even now is the owner of the Tennessee Titans.

He also, not coincidentally, was a very prominent Kansas graduate and booster.

Well, when Coan transferred to Kansas, whew, you can imagine the fury. The NCAA slapped a one-year probation on the school, which eliminated the 1960 Kansas team from bowl consideration (there were a couple of other violations as well, but the recruitment of Coan seems by far the biggest). Still, Coan was allowed to play football. He was a star in Kansas’ 34-6 thrashing of Colorado a week earlier.

Missouri coach Dan Devine seethed over the idea that Coan would be allowed to play against his team, but there was really nothing he could do about it. You needed a 75 percent consensus from the eight schools to banish a player in those days, and Devine did not have enough votes. Coan was eligible.

So, that was the setup in 1960. It was a huge game for the Big Eight championship, with national championship implications, pretty much everything that is there tonight.

And Kansas shocked everybody by pounding Missouri.

•••

How bad was the beating? Missouri did not get a first down the entire first half. The Tigers managed just 61 yards rushing all day long (and 53 yards passing, though that was not a surprise for Missouri then — Devine was a leading disciple of the “three things can happen when you pass and two of them are bad,” philosophy).

Coan was a difference maker. He scored the Jayhawks’ first touchdown on a 19-yard pass from Hadl. He scored the second on a 2-yard run. After that, the score was 17-0, and Missouri was done. Kansas had won the Big Eight championship and, perhaps more important to those Jayhawks’ fans, ruined Missouri’s season.

“We won the championship,” Kansas’ Doyle Schick said. “And we won it by beating the hell out of Missouri.”

When the game ended, Devine somewhat sadly announced that the Tigers had just accepted a bid to go to the Orange Bowl — Kansas, being on probation, could not go. It didn’t make anyone at Missouri feel much better.

Devine, meanwhile, could not get over his anger about Coan. He just did not understand — could not understand — how Coan had been allowed to play. The NCAA punishment had made it clear that Kansas had illegally recruited him (since then, Coan has admitted as much).

Three weeks later, athletic directors and representatives from the schools met in Kansas City to decide the fate of Coan. It seemed a formality — after all, there was a 75-percent rule, and three schools had consistently voted for Coan. And then politics emerged. Before voting on Coan, the schools voted down the 75-percent rule. Even now, some Kansas people will tell you this was a sneaky trick pulled off by Devine and others at Missouri.

Anyway, with the 75-percent rule out of the way, the school reps voted on Coan. Five voted that Kansas should be stripped of its Big Eight title and the two victories — over Colorado and Missouri — that Coan played in. Three voted against it. Majority ruled. Voila, Missouri was undefeated again.

Kansas people screamed bloody murder. They said that if the Big Eight wanted to declare Coan ineligible, it should have done it before the games were played. But the decision was final. Missouri went to the Orange Bowl at an official 10-0. Kansas finished its season officially 5-4-1.

The writers and coaches, though, were not officially impressed. They dropped Missouri out of the top five and out of national championship consideration.

•••

Missouri dominated Navy in the Orange Bowl that New Year’s Day, even with president-elect John Kennedy sitting in the stands and rooting for the Naval Academy. The Tigers’ defense, led of course by LaRose, held Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino to 4 yards rushing. The Tigers, had they won the Kansas game (or, as the most passionate fans said, had the Jayhawks not cheated) would have been national champions for sure. As it was, they finished fifth in the polls.

Ever since then, Missouri has declared victory in 1960.

Kansas fans, meanwhile, mostly went into the offseason content that they had the best team in the Big Eight and, when healthy and together, the best team in America. They seemed unbothered by a free football weekend for Bert Coan — this sort of recruiting thing happened all the time — and anyway, they had beaten Missouri badly in the Tigers’ home stadium. They thought Missouri fans were trying to get by on a technicality.

Ever since then, Kansas has declared victory in 1960.

Sure, many people have forgotten about that game in 1960 or never heard about it. But for those who lived it, the game is as alive now as it was then. During this week, more than a dozen people wrote or called in about this game played almost a half century ago.

“I’ll never forget that game,” one wrote in. “Kansas dominated, and Missouri whined, and it’s been that way ever since.”

“Kansas has always been a cheating school,” said another. “And they cheated us out of a national championship.”

Who is right? Even now it probably depends on which side of State Line Road you live on. Yes, tonight’s game is huge, and it should be fascinating and exciting and, with all the passes, it will probably be a long game. But even if it goes into overtime, it probably won’t last 47 years.

Mecca
11-23-2007, 11:48 PM
Funny article.....so the first time in my life time anyone outside of these 2 states has cared about these teams or these games.....and he writes about 1960.

How bizarre.

Thig Lyfe
11-24-2007, 02:58 AM
Funny article.....so the first time in my life time anyone outside of these 2 states has cared about these teams or these games.....and he writes about 1960.

How bizarre.

Well, just about every other angle has been covered. Why not this one? Good read.

KCFalcon59
11-24-2007, 04:40 AM
So Mizzou doesn't count a game they lost because their offense couldn't score enough against KU's defense to win the game? Wah.

alanm
11-24-2007, 05:13 AM
That's strange, I don't recall seeing the Denver Bronco's mentioned anywhere in that article. :hmmm:

BCD
11-24-2007, 05:20 AM
That's strange, I don't recall seeing the Denver Bronco's mentioned anywhere in that article. :hmmm:Evidently, 'cheating' is a synonym for 'Denver Broncos'.

the Talking Can
11-24-2007, 07:01 AM
Funny article.....so the first time in my life time anyone outside of these 2 states has cared about these teams or these games.....and he writes about 1960.

How bizarre.


it is a fascinating story that is directly relevant to the two teams involved....

what could be less bizarre....

Lzen
11-24-2007, 07:42 AM
This is not the same thing as what Denver did. The way I understand this is that Coen was allowed to play by the league. If it was such a cheat, why did they go ahead and allow it? Like someone else mentioned, I don't believe Coen played defense. MU could not score on KU's defense. So instead, they whine like bitches and change the rules after the fact. Yeah, I would be pissed about it if I were an MU fan. But that doesn't change the fact that your team did not play like a champ that day and therefore did not deserve to be champ that year.

Braincase
11-24-2007, 08:44 AM
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StcChief
11-24-2007, 09:14 AM
Evidently, 'cheating' is a synonym for 'Denver Broncos'.
It's always a synonym for cheating.

trndobrd
11-24-2007, 09:19 AM
I always suspected that Chic was involved in questionable recruiting practices.

ROYC75
11-24-2007, 09:42 AM
Yep, Gayboy had to add to a story that wasn't..... He's a closet Tigger fan,He and the Tiggers have alot in common... NTTATWWT.....just saying.