LAWRENCE, Kansas — John Steinmetz and Kirk Franklin waited 30 years and traveled nearly 1,600 miles to be part of the next chapter of the Border War on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.
Steinmetz, a University of Missouri graduate, and Franklin, a University of Kansas graduate, both live in Reno, Nevada, but the friends made the trek to see their alma maters renew a rivalry that has been dormant for the last decade.
The pair have been friends for years despite attending their bitter rival’s school for college.
“We’ve been looking forward to getting here for over 30 years,” Steinmetz said.
He and Franklin attended a few editions of the Border War as students in the 1970s, but they didn’t want to miss a chance to see the rivalry as it comes back for the first time in a meaningful game since the Tigers left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.
KU student Lucy Mann was among a throng of students ready to rush into the building two hours before tipoff. She’s no stranger to Jayhawks games, having attended her first one as a toddler.
“Probably like 2 or 3 years old,” Mann said when asked about the first time she attended a game.
Kansas was Mann’s only choice for college.
“I’ve been a fan for my entire life,” she said. “I knew this was the only school I would go to.”
Although the Jayhawks were highly favored to win the game, MU coach Ray Robbins said renewing the rivalry was long overdue.
“(The rivalry) should’ve never stopped,” said Robbins, who traveled with a friend from St. Louis for the game. “I like to come to big-time basketball games, and this is as big time as you get.”
Both Franklin and Mann predicted a dominant performance from the Jayhawks.
“It’s going to be a blowout,” Mann said. “Realistically, let’s go 87-62.”
Franklin said, “They need to like probably win by like 50.”
Steinmetz knew it would be an uphill climb for his Tigers against the eighth-ranked Jayhawks, but he had his celebration planned if they pulled off the upset.
His buddies planned to make him walk a half-mile to get the car.
“If that happens, I’ll be dancing the whole way,” Steinmetz said.