We are slowly creeping towards another football season and it’s a weird situation. The team has been to two straight bowls, won 7 games each of those seasons, and return tons of talent. And yet there is almost a fatalism to the upcoming season as I don’t get the sense that fans are truly EXCITED about the upcoming year as the schedule stiffens up and the many, many blown opportunities over the last 35 years of UK football have just taken it out of a fanbase starving for something special in this sport. Which brings me to this statement and I wonder how many people would agree:
I WISH KENTUCKY FOOTBALL WAS ELITE BECAUSE I WOULD BE A BIGGER FOOTBALL FAN THAN BASKETBALL FAN
I don’t know if this is blasphemous or not in the UK fanbase, but I feel like many would agree that the reason this basketball fanbase is so passionate and dedicated to the team is because the football program has basically stunk for 80% of the seasons. Besides a very good stretch in the late 1970’s and the last few years of Rich Brooks, UK has basically only had a year here and there of decent teams but no real consistent program. And of course Mark Stoops has a consistent stretch here that he might expand on this year. Obviously the basketball program has been consistently good for 70 years. They are basically exact opposites of one another.
But when I think of college football, it holds so many advantages over college basketball that I wish UK could ever get a consistently competitive program. And by consistently competitive, I mean for decades, not 3-5 years stretches. For instance:
1. Better Gameday Experience: Let’s start with tailgating. Basketball doesn’t have that at all. I guess you can have a few beers before a basketball game, but not in an organized manner like football. Hell, even during crappy UK years, the tailgating is still a huge positive.
2. More Fans Can Go: Simple science: 70,000 people can make more noise than 22,000. Rupp Arena is a great atmosphere for big games, but over the course of 15-20 home games, there are some clunkers in there. When you only have 6 or 7 home games a year, and 70,000 people can go, it COULD be a better sports atmosphere.
3. It’s Once a Week: What makes college and pro football really great is its played just once a week. All week is spent anticipating that weekend’s game. But when you are a UK fan and that often means anticipating the heartbreaking loss you are going to take, it takes away from that experience. If the program was great, you would look forward to Saturdays so much more.
4. Joining the SEC Fun: We are the only basketball-first school in the conference. While that means we should continue to dominate the basketball league forever, it also means we are often the whipping boy in football. Look at Auburn-Georgia, Florida-Tennessee, or Alabama-Anybody. Sorry, but there will not be a basketball atmosphere anything like that. I want Kentucky to have a piece of that.
College football is just something special in the south. I know that if Kentucky had a program to be proud of, not just one or two years but consistently, that I would love supporting and watching that team more than basketball (except for March Madness).
But I wonder if there are others out there like me. Do you think you would be a bigger football fan than basketball fan if the football team was elite?