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.