By LARRY VAUGHT
Chris Leach of the Kentucky Kernel reported today that only about 42,000 tickets have been distributed for Kentucky’s season-opening game against Central Michigan.
This is a Kentucky team coming off consecutive seven-win seasons that ended with bowl games and returns several star players including running back Benny Snell, linebacker Josh Allen and safety Mike Edwards.
Yet barring a last-minute ticket surge — and I would not expect that — this will be the smallest crowd to attend a home opener since Mark Stoops took over as head coach.
Kentucky didn’t help by scheduling sorority rush in direct conflict with the football game and eliminating a number of students involved in sororities from being able to attend. But there’s a bigger disconnect with the fan base that UK continues to either ignore or not understand based on these recent messages I have received from Kentucky fans:
— Robert Monahan: “I supported UK football for over 50 years and finally gave up. I will always be a UK fan, but UK will never rise to become an SEC caliber football program. This is basketball country. I stay up with the Cats, and I very much enjoy listening to you on the radio, but my days of actually buying tickets and spending all that time at the stadium are well behind me. I can sit in my recliner, watch my 70-inch TV, and switch channels any time I want. Last year’s Florida game debacle pretty much summed up my 50 plus years of wasting my time following the UK program. I would like to have a nickle for all the miles I traveled to away games. Just can’t tolerate the sun, rain, cold, and overpriced entertainment.”
— Paul Turner: “I have followed UK Football since the early 1950s, since 1954 it hasn’t changed much. My very first UK game was in Knoxville in 1962. UK won on a Clarkie Mayfield field goal. I think coach Stoops is doing wonders, but at the same time other SEC programs are doing the same. I think coach Stoops had the 34th best recruiting class in the Nation but the 11th best in the SEC. The other 11 schools already had better and deeper talent, so another 6 and 6 season, maybe 7 and 6, but it is hard to build from the bottom when 11 teams ahead of you are building better.”
— Robbie Nicholas: I love UK football but I think some fans, myself included, just feel a disconnect between the AD (Mitch Barnhart) and ‘UK football’ fans. its Hard to argue that he hasn’t done a good job in general with UK sports. I just feel like UK and it’s football fans aren’t as important in his eyes.”
— Dwayne Buckles: “The University of Kentucky campus does not seem to be too interested in supporting the CATS. I mean we had to schedule our Wedding around UK Football and Keeneland when we were married in October. Had to make sure it was an away game and we had TV’s setup in the Reception area. Times have changed.”