By LARRY VAUGHT
Music City Bowl officials are banking on Kentucky football fans in western Kentucky turning out to see the Wildcats play Northwestern Dec. 29th — the same day UK and Louisville play basketball just a few hours before the bowl game starts.
Many speculated that the Music City Bowl would back off Kentucky because of the basketball game conflict. However, western Kentucky fans have always been very supportive when UK plays in Nashville.
Bowl officials are anticipating something will be done — perhaps at the stadium — to make it easy for UK fans to watch the basketball game before the bowl game.
“The UK administration needs to do everything that it can do to promote the bowl game and show that in spite of a horrible finish to the season that the fans will still come to a bowl game to support its team,” one official from another bowl told me. “UK officials need to repeatedly preach this because the Music City Bowl is really believing in UK fans.”
Kentucky officials have done a great job of that.
“I’m asking our fans to respond and join us in Nashville. That’s a place we have had unbelievable support. It’s a unique day in our program.,” UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said.
“We’ve got a basketball game that afternoon. Big game for our state and I know how much it means to the people of this state. They call it Big Blue Nation for a reason. Because it’s a big, blue nation. There’s a lot of folks that support our program. I think there’s plenty of fans to go around and I hope that the fans will be in Rupp Arena cheering our basketball program that day and I hope there will be another 25, 30,000 fans down in Nashville cheering our football program on down in Nashville.”
Kentucky sophomore lineman Landon Young knows fans might have doubts about the team after the losses to Georgia and Louisville to end the season. But he says fans will not be disappointed when they attend the bowl game.
“We didn’t like the way the season ended, either. We have the hurt, the drive to change that,” Young said. “Come to the bowl game and you will see that.”