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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Football Scheduling Doesn’t Match Our Attitude

In 2005, the Kentucky football team played 3 non-conference football games.  Louisville, Indiana, and Idaho State.  Remember, it was just an 11-game schedule back then.  Since that year of football, Kentucky has played 14 football seasons under 3 head coaches (Brooks, Phillips, and Stoops).  And in those 14 years of football, Kentucky football has played:

-Louisville 14 times
-FCS teams 14 times
-MAC teams 12 times
-Sun Belt teams 11 times
-Conference USA teams 4 times
-FBS Independent teams 1 time
-Pac-12, Big 12, Big 10, AAC, and ACC 0 times

And the non-conference schedules for 2020 through 2024 are already booked.  And those games are:

-8 games against MAC schools
-5 games against Louisville
-5 games against FCS teams
-2 games against Sun Belt schools
-0 games against Pac-12, Big 12, Big 10, AAC, and ACC schools

Now, I understand the reasoning, especially when this really got going in 2005.  The program was really in shambles, with Rich Brooks scratching and clawing for every win and bowl games almost impossible to come by.  The idea was the SEC was such a grind, and Louisville was rolling and beating UK every year, that the Cats needed to try and schedule as many guarantee wins as possible in the non-conference and get the home game revenue every year.  I get it.  And it actually paid dividends.  UK made bowl games in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2019 with losing SEC records.  And that was because they got 3 or 4 wins in the non-conference season.

So again, I GET IT.

But now as we stand in 2020, I don’t get it anymore.  Are we for real in football or not?  Do we want to get respect or not?  We want to go out there as a group of players, coaches, and fanbase and talk about how we have arrived, we are SEC contenders, nobody respects us, look at our talent, and all of that jazz.  Yet we schedule like a program that feels like we can’t make a bowl without playing 3 cupcakes and Louisville every year.

And let’s be honest on this point.  Most teams at our level are not doing this.  Who are our equivalents?  Look at what some teams in our very own division that are of similar level right now in college football as UK have scheduled in the non-conference in the last 5 years:

Missouri (SEC): BYU (2015), W.Virginia (2016), Purdue (2017), Purdue (2018), Memphis (2018), W.Virginia (2019)
Tennessee (SEC): Oklahoma (2015), Va Tech (2016), Ga Tech (2017), W.Virginia (2018), BYU (2019)
South Carolina (SEC): UNC (2015), NC State (2017), UNC (2019)

Are we a worse program than Missouri?  If you feel like we are at the level of Missouri, which I do, then why is they can schedule a good non-conference game every year and we can’t?  The reason some of you will give is because we have a rival like Louisville every year and they don’t.  OK fine.  I will accept that.  Let’s move on South Carolina then.  They have a key rival outside of the SEC (Clemson) that they play every year.  And yet, in 3 of the last 5 years they have played an additional ACC team in their non-conference.  Why is it they can schedule like this and we can’t? 

I am not advocating for some murder’s row of non-conference games in football because I understand the budget concerns for the football program and the need for some gimme games leading into the SEC.  But why can we not do what South Carolina does?  Here is my proposal:

On years when Louisville comes to Lexington, schedule a non-conference game against a Power 5 school.

Now, focus in here.  Did I say schedule Oklahoma or Ohio State or Clemson?  I did not.  But what about Cincinnati or Memphis or West Virginia or Virginia Tech or North Carolina or NC State or any number of other schools in our region that have shown they are willing to schedule SEC teams?  Are we so SCARED of losing that we don’t want to take a “risk” every other year against a team of that caliber?  And if we are that scared, what does that say about this administration.  I would think Mark Stoops would say bring it on.  I am sure the players would say bring it on.  So it seems to me this is an administration decision.

As fans, it improves our experience as well.  Do games against Kent State and Ohio sell out Kroger Field?  Doubtful.  Sparse crowds.  But if West Virginia came to town, you better believe that atmosphere would be wild.  And even if that game would have to be played at a neutral location, fans would travel like they would to a bowl game.  It’s all positive.

Except we could lose.  But if a key factor of our program is fear of losing, has the program really advanced that far? 

Article written by Bryan the Intern

6 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Football Scheduling Doesn’t Match Our Attitude

  1. UKgrad80
    10:18 am June 2, 2020 Permalink

    You say zero ACC schools, Louisville is an ACC school! I do wish we could play another power 5 school and one less MAC school a year

    • peaches76
      10:30 am June 2, 2020 Permalink

      I agree on the MAC. We could find bigger name schools that would fit our needs. But some of these people crying for more big time games have never had to put the pads on for a full college season AND face an SEC schedule. That’s incredibly difficult and physically draining. Factor in the attrition that always occurs during a season and that would put us in a tough situation.

  2. TMac1980
    10:25 am June 2, 2020 Permalink

    I agree with this post. Need to schedule one more game against solid competition.

  3. Lip Man 1
    1:30 pm June 2, 2020 Permalink

    Story is VERY well done. UK wants to play enough “cup cakes” to guarantee themselves a shot at a second or third tear bowl every year because the SEC is the toughest conference in the nation. They feel it is insurance for wont of a better word.

  4. christopherharrison26
    6:41 pm June 2, 2020 Permalink

    Who are you people?!!! This is crazy. Are you all masochists?

    Our program is reaching a middle ground and has had some success, but those 3 SEC schools you mention as “equivalents” have a longer history of success and those schedules were made when they were doing better. Talk to some of the fans of those 3 schools and you will find they wish they had a breather or 2 so that when they get to the SEC they have had some games that are not meat grinders – there’s a reason those 3 schools swoon in the second half of the season – they are almost all SEC games and they have beat-up teams.

    As usual Bryan the Intern op-eds like an intern and agitates just to be agitating – Bryan is like the mythological character who flies too close to the sun and crashes/burns because of delusions of grandeur. I am way happy we get 3 breathers in the 12 game schedule. One bad year and it will agian be hard to get the recruits we have lately. Enjoy – don’t agitate – please.

  5. bigbluebg
    9:36 pm June 2, 2020 Permalink

    South Carolina wasn’t good, other than a handful of years, until Spurrier showed up. You don’t know what you are talking about. We have Bear Bryant in our history. Recently, we beat them 5 years in a row until this year when we lost on the road.

    The others are similar stories. Yes we were bad for a 20 year stretch…but the other schools he listed have similar histories. You simply don’t know those programs if you believe we aren’t currently equal peers.