By LARRY VAUGHT
Crowds at Kroger Field were not quite the same this year as recent seasons but Kentucky also played several games in wet, miserable weather.
Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart has no issues with the way UK fans supported the Cats.
“Our ticket sales were fine. The fans, our fans were incredibly dedicated. There were some days I’m not sure I would have stood out there,” Barnhart said.
Give the man an A for honesty because at times the weather was horrible.
No wonder Barnhart uses “incredible, awesome” to describe UK football fans.
“I looked out the last couple games, there was some times that it was raining about as hard as I’ve seen it rain in my career and they hung right in there and supported college football and our kids,” Barnhart said. “You can sit there, and someone can say, ‘Hey, there was a bunch (of empty seats)’ — let me tell you something.
“There was a lot of empty seats — it rains that hard there’s going to be a lot of empty seats in a lot of stadiums. And our fans, there’s, we had, many, many times 50, 55,000 tickets out for games and 30, 35,000 people standing in there just getting drenched.
‘I’m not sure how many sick days were after that at work, but I promise you there was some folks that called in sick because there had to be pneumonia somewhere. The doctor bills were incredible this year and it’s just not our staff.
‘So our fans were phenomenal. Really, really good. And we may get to Charlotte (for the Belk Bowl) and maybe it needs to rain for us. You know, maybe we need a little rain.”
Kentucky certainly is used to playing in the rain and has played well in the rain — just ask Louisville.
But we, I’m thankful for our fans. They were incredible this year to go do what — I mean, even the one at Georgia. That wasn’t even a home game and we had people down there, out there in that deluge. So thankful for our fans, they were tremendous.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops joked near the end of the season that he wouldn’t mind playing in the rain every week after the way the Cats performed in the poor conditions.
“Hey, if we win I’m good, let’s go,” Barnhart said. “I think our guys have gotten used to it a little bit, I don’t think they feel it much, we sort of learned how to play in it. Yeah, whatever. We’ll be fine.”