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Mark Stoops “super appreciative” of fans coming to game; UK snafu will keep sororities from attending opening game

Mark Stoops (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

With reports that Kentucky still has 20,000 unsold tickets for Saturday’s season-opening game against Central Michigan Saturday, UK coach Mark Stoops tried praising those who have bought tickets Monday rather than addressing why so many tickets are still available.

“I’m very, super appreciative of the people that are coming because we need them and we need the atmosphere and encourage all folks that we need all hands on deck because it makes a difference. It’s not just some silly cliché, but it takes all of us all the time,” Stoops said.

“We need a bunch of people to build this program the way we want it to be. So just take a look around at the Southeastern Conference and take a look at the venues we step into. It (fans) helps. It helps with recruiting; it helps with a lot of things, so we need some people there and I appreciate the people that are coming because I also realize that it takes a lot.

“I understand the complaints and it’s expensive and it takes a lot and it’s hard to park. There’s a lot of things, so I greatly appreciate it. When you’re going to a football game, you better be vested because it’s a full day. There’s a lot to do.”

Kentucky fans have been disgruntled for several years after seat locations were changed at Kroger Field and parking locations changed — and prices raised for both. Now suddenly UK is offering season parking passes at a much lower rate because passes have gone unsold.

Numerous Kentucky fans reached out to me a few weeks ago with their frustrations and feelings that UK didn’t care about the “average” fan. Obviously, Stoops has no control over tickets, parking passes or anything else.

However, Kentucky officials do and it astounded me when Kentucky Sports Radio’s Tyler Thompson noted Sunday that UK sorority members would not be able to attend Saturday’s game because of a training/recruiting day Saturday mandated by UK officials — not the sororities. Apparently fraternities don’t face the same dilemma but I am not so old that I don’t know that a lack of sorority members at the game might dramatically reduce the number of fraternity members at a game or know that sororities cannot fight a decision made by UK officials.

I applaud Tyler Thompson for pointing this information out and expressing her disappointment in UK’s decision. Stoops should be livid, too, but he can’t say so. He gets his paycheck from UK.

To me, it’s just another example of the fight Kentucky football faces even from within to create a big-time program.

3 comments

  1. This is simply the latest example of how the administration at UK fails to have a solid commitment to football. Nothing new, just the latest example.

    Years ago, the University mandated to Coach Bear Bryant that he only sign Kentucky boys to play football. It was not long before coach Bryant went to greener fields. Blanton Collier tried to labor under these restrictions, but he could not satisfy the powers that be, and despite a winning record as head coach, his tenure ended at UK unhappily. We all know Blanton Collier went on to a hall of fame coaching career in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns. Since those days, there has not been a single UK head football coach with a winning record, and with each new cycle of coaching changes mandated in part by the Administration and in part by an impatient fan base, the average winning percentage of the program has been on a 6 decades long gradual slide to its present condition.

    This is UK football’s history, and it is not a pretty one. To rebuild this program to SEC competitiveness will require a long term commitment by this fan base and the Administration. It appears the administration remains oblivious to what it means to have a commitment, much less for the long term approach needed to support Coach Stoops, especially as he enters a tenuous and perilous season.

    So sad.

    1. It might help if the Administration took a little less for tickets, and parking, and K fund donations, and started treating long term season ticket holders with better seats that they once had and IMO are entitled too. Especially with the product UK has put on the field the past decade or more. Instead, they do the bait and switch after the stadium upgrade that resulted in faithful long time UK football fans getting the shaft in favor of big money. And, yes you are right Professor, UK is eat up with basketball, and always has been all the way back to the Bear’s days. That is why he left. Just look, a promising 2018 UK football team playing before a stadium on opening day with a lot of empty seats is proof. If I were UK’s brain trust this close to the Central Michigan game with a ton of potential empty seats I would make sure that stadium was full even if we had to give tickets away at game time. But it won’t happen.

  2. UK fans have supported the football team as long as I can remember despite not having great success. They took it as a big slap in the face when the choice seats were taken from the loyal fans and turned into seats for the wealthy that may or may not support the team. It was seen as a betrayal by the fans and I don’t blame them. Imagine being a season ticket holder for many years and finding out your support wasn’t as valuable as the support of someone else. Lexington isn’t NYC. It isn’t even a top tier team. I’ve seen stadium issues totally destroy a program. Marshall had a top 10 season only to lose their coach because the administration there wouldn’t support the team. UK decided there was more money in selling out to rich people. Clearly they made a big mistake.

    Kentucky routinely put 70,000 people in the stands after the renovation in the decade before Commonwealth Stadium became Kroger Field. The administration backed the wrong fans quite clearly. Even through the worst years UK fans showed up (with the sole exception being the end of the Joker reign). There’s a reason the fans aren’t showing up for this game. We can’t blame the fans. Fans do what fans do. You can’t make them show up. It’s up to the administration to make the right moves. Clearly they did not. UK football wasn’t about trying to copy the big money teams until recently. They obviously misjudged the impact the changes would have on the formerly dedicated fan base. They wanted more money. They obviously aren’t going to get it the way they did things. Why they thought they could squeeze the fans while giving them worse service is beyond me. I think it will be a mistake to do the same things at Rupp BTW. It’s too easy to kill the golden goose in sports. Lexington is not NYC.

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