The last two weeks have illustrated one thing to me (and its not just that there will only be one Crocodile Hunter), Commonwealth Stadium is truly in need of some major steps to modernity. For many years, I just assumed that the way football is played in Commonwealth is the way it is played in other college football stadiums as well (minus of course the losing). I thought that all major college stadiums were about 3/4 full, generally pretty stoic about the game and featured a band that refused to play any songs not from the 1950s. This was college football, a step back in Americana to where there were only 3 television stations and fun was to be rationed very carefully to prevent over-exuberance.
But then I went a couple of years ago to Tennessee, and saw their amazing band doing crazy formations and dancing and getting the entire fan base worked up. Unlike the Middlesboro High School, picolo-dominated band (five out 60 or so members), the Tennessee band played interesting instruments and seemed to enjoy dancing….or what passes for dancing for a band in Tennessee. But regardless it was fun, and in between Rocky Tops (half bear the other half cat), the music was upbeat and while not completely up to date (lots of Huey Lewis for some reason) it was at least fun.
And then last week I went to Louisville. Now there was a stadium bringing modern culture to the masses. In between plays, hip hop hits played, allowing all those who wanted to (including the very attractive co-eds), the opportunity to dance and have fun. There was a rock concert feel to the place, with fireworks, an excited PA announcer and a general buzz that made the stadium sing. The game felt like an event, and even though Kentucky was getting crushed, excitement reigned.
Which brings me back to Commonwealth. As the Turkey Hunter pointed out to me today, there is maybe no more depressing place to watch a game than Commonwealth. When you combine the blue-haired crowd dominating all the good seats, with a band that makes Steven Seagal look talented with a set of music that refuses to get more edgy than Tracy Byrd (“We’re from Kentucky and we like that Way!!!”), Commonwealth truly is dour. Look folks I can take a losing team. In fact, much of the nervousness that I feel at college basketball games is completely lost at UK football games, because I expect a loss. I can thus just enjoy the game and have fun. But unless Brooks and Dunn’s Greatest Hits on repeat is your idea of fun, then it simply wont be had.
Much of the problem areas with UK athletics deal with the fact that it seems one step behind in adjusting to new and diverse challenges….albeit from technology or modern practices. Right now a game at most college universities is sort of like this:
But at UK, it is sort of like this:
If you look at the two of those pictures and prefer the second, then you are probably in charge of Commonwealth Stadium’s atmosphere….if you think the first, then let the UK folks know….I simply cannot take another game where the key moments are accenuated with “Louie Louie” again….