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Mitch Barnhart says UK has to play FCS teams to help “keep those folks alive”

Kash Daniel celebrated during last year’s win over Middle Tennessee. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

No general alcohol sales at University of Kentucky sporting events and why UK’s non-conference basketball schedule is what it is got most of the attention from Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart’s time with the media last week.

However, he also dropped a nugget of info about why Kentucky’s football scheduling philosophy won’t change either.

Barnhart was asked about dropping a FCS game UK plays each season and adding another FBS opponent — UK does play Louisville along with eight Southeastern Conference games each season. The UK AD made it clear the Cats have no interest in upgrading the schedule and then said it was more about helping FCS teams than adding a tougher opponent that might be more apt to beat UK.

“I think we’re in a good spot. Our scheduling philosophy has worked out pretty well,” Barnhart said.

Now here comes the interesting comments.

“Last year I said this: The FCS opponents are important. They’re important for the game of college football. If those schools began dropping college football, we lose opportunities for young people in high school to go play college football other places. We’ve got to keep those folks alive.

Those folks only can stay alive if they have about a game or two a year on their schedule, they can get some money from an FBS school that allows them to keep their programs rolling. Really important to do that,” Barnhart said.

Not sure I have heard another SEC athletics director talk about how important it was to play FCS opponents to “keep those folks alive” with the money they make by playing a Power-5 opponent with a big-money guarantee.

“The game of college football is not in trouble, but it needs some help, and we’ve got to make sure we prop it up in the right way, and propping it up in the right way means scheduling some of these FCS schools and making sure they have a chance to keep their programs viable because that creates opportunity, and that keeps people excited about the game of football,” Barnhart.

Do you buy that as a valid reason for not upgrading the schedule or do you just believe the schedule is what it is to help make sure UK has opponents each year that it should beat?

5 comments

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  1. I think you are both correct. The FCS schools need the money, sometimes pull an upset to boost their program (think Appalachian State) and UK, and other SEC schools, get pretty much a guaranteed win. I don’t think the football schedule is nearly as disheartening as the basketball schedule. Other than 3 or 4 off campus marquee basketball games made for TV and maybe 6 to 7 of the teams in the SEC there is nothing else to see there. Generally in football even playing a MAC or Sunbelt team UK is going to get a competitive game. Not so much when they play a basketball team from the MEAC or Horizon League.

  2. I accept the explanation for the FBS opponents, but it seems that at least one of these 3 opponents each year is embarrassingly weak. I would like to see the weakest of the three strengthened to a quality on par with the other two. In addition, I would not object as a fan if the program replaces one of the 3 with a power 5 opponent, but I realize those scheduling issues would include home-home contracts, and would reduce UK to 7 home games each year instead of 7 games one year and 8 games the next. That is a pocketbook issue for Barnhart, and I doubt that his concern for a better schedule will extend to sacrificing 1/2 home game per year.

  3. I agree with MB. UK’s SEC schedule is tough enough and should provide plenty of big time football to satisfy any big time football fan. There is nothing wrong with scheduling some FBS schools to help their programs. One named EKU almost beat UK a few years ago if you recall. As the Professor points out, I like the 8 game home schedule it attracts occasionally too.

  4. Why can’t anyone call a spade a spade. We play these Popcorn State schools not to help them, but to give us a chance to have enough wins to be bowl eligible. Even the title contenders do the same thing, but they do it to give themselves a chance to be a top ranked team by season’s end. The guaranteed loss and the pay day that comes with it does help these schools financially, but all we are concerned about is getting the guaranteed win. Pup, if your nose gets any farther up Barnhart’s butt, you will be sniffing his tonsils.

    1. Tell me your real name hot shot.

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