A drastic change has taken place within the Kentucky Wildcats football program. Anyone who has paid attention could easily tell you that. The huge recruiting weekends, the flashy press conference, actual plans for renovations, etc. But today something changed that even the most optimistic football fans didn’t expect. This morning the University of Kentucky announced that the football spring game will be held on Saturday, April 13th at 7 p.m.
That’s three months from now. And it’s not the opening day of Keeneland. Or the same night as Thunder over Louisville. Last year most fans couldn’t find out the details surrounding the spring game until the week of the event. Even then it required some digging. It was almost as if the university didn’t want fans to attend. This predictably led to the worst spring crowd in the SEC by far. The few fans who did make it saw little show: The team just came out and started practicing. Then a scrimmage ensued. A few concession stands were open. It rained. It was both a foreshadowing for the season to come and a summary of the history of Kentucky football at the same time.
By announcing in January, UK is allowing fans time to plan a trip to Commonwealth Stadium in the spring. It allows recruits to make travel plans to attend and see the campus and fans. It allows for sponsors to consider becoming involved with the event.
Football fans have long bemoaned the lack of planning involved in the spring game, and it has seen quite a bit of discussion in this space. Now it looks like they are finally making strides. Hopefully the coaches can turn this into a recruiting event like many schools do. What that entails varies from place to place but the key remains the same: fans in the stands. It will be interesting to see what the university will do to entice casual fans to come out to the stadium (the hard-core fans will be there regardless).
The emphasis should be on creating an event that fans can make a day out of: tailgate, pregame entertainment, then the game. Have some live music, JD Shelbourne loves UK football and Laura Bell Bundy is local. Continue selling fan gear in the parking lot, but actually have some football-related swag for sale. Maybe finish the night with some fireworks for the kiddies.
It’s such an exciting time to follow Wildcat football. There is no guarantee of success but the program is undeniably headed in the right direction just two shorts months after it seemed to be in shambles. The next step is an impressive haul on Signing Day followed by a great turnout for the spring game. Start making your plans now.