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Kathy Taylor

By LARRY VAUGHT

Where were the fans for UK’s Senior Day?

Yes, I know it was an early kickoff. Yes, I know Commonwealth Stadium had plenty of empty seats when the game started.

But why were there fewer than 20,000 fans in the stadium when UK’s 16 seniors were honored Saturday before the Wildcats beat Vanderbilt.

That’s a topic we debated on WLAP during our Sunday Morning Sports Show and I asked for fans to let us know what happened. Some suggested the early start. Some suggested lack of interest in a team that was not entertaining enough. Some suggested UK had done too many things to alienate fans by raising ticket and parking prices.

However, here is one explanation from listener Kathy Taylor that I could not fault. She sent this e-mail to the show:

“Hey guys.. Here’s one story from a couple fans  who never miss Senior Day.  My son and I stopped at Central Baptist hospital to visit my new great niece/his new second cousin before walking over to the stadium. We were late because we  had to wait for a nurse to finish in the room before we could go in.  She’d had a pretty rocky beginning to her new life and this was our first chance to actually hold her.  Thankfully, all is well now.  Sorry guys, our heart was in the right place!”

Take a look at the picture of Taylor with her great niece and certainly all is forgiven with her.

But if you went to the game and didn’t make the Senior Day ceremony, just let me know why. If you had tickets and didn’t even go to the game, let me know why. If you did watch the ceremony, let me know why you did attend.

Just trying to figure out why there was such a low turnout on a perfect weather day for seniors who have helped elevate the Kentucky program to where it has been bowl eligible every year they have been at Kentucky.

35 Responses to Where were the fans for Senior Day?

  • Cammie says:

    I was in Commonwealth Stadium for Senior Day, and I, too, was embarrassed by the low turnout. And like you, I wonder why so few fans wanted to show their appreciation to a group of young men who have represented our university admirably and who have played us into four (now five)consecutive bowl games. I also listened to you on WLAP on Sunday morning, and I must say I agree wholeheartedly with the caller who said it was because too many fans were only intrested in ourselves, not our team. I completely agree, though I might state it slightly differently.

    I fear UK fans have yet to learn how to be SEC-calibre football fans. Even more, I regret that many see wins as vicariously being their own rather than truly loving and supporting their alma mater/sports-university of choice. UK football players and administration have grown our program in the right way–with compliance, quality athletes, honorble young men… real student-athletes. A quick fix also often has a quick end.

    I am proud of our players, coaches, university, and at least 20,000 of our fans! The players deserved better….but maybe, like our program, our fans must learn and now follow our team and begin to move up the SEC-calibre football-fan ladder.

  • larry vaught says:

    Cammie, my dear, I think you nailed it. Will be anxious to see what others thought, but I am with you 100 percent and wish I could have thought to state it as eloquently as you did

  • UKFMLY says:

    I was not at the game. I had to work. But what I just read explains the why Cobb said what he did. I thought last years Sr. day for ul when only 23,000 total showed up was bad.

    Those Sr.’s are WINNERS and they deserve MUCH MUCH better than that. Early start or not.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. GO BLUE OR STAY HOME

  • Tana says:

    Most eloquently expressed, indeed, Cammie. Too, I had also listened to the show Sunday morning. I believe the caller who had expressed our own feelings had been named “Tim.” Regardless, yes, as he had said, too many of our fans are not really caring about the team itself, but merely about ourselves. Exactly, some fans may think it’s OUR win, but, yes, instead, it’s THEIR (the players’) win. Too, when the team loses, for some of us it’s their hurt that makes us especially hurt, and I imagine that had probably been the case for most of those who had shown up for the ceremonies. That’s just part of loving and loyally supporting one’s team, love/support that had, unfortunately, only been shown by a small portion of our fanbase last Saturday.

    Also, Larry, thank you for bringing up the topic both on your show and here on your site. Like Cammie, I had felt so disappointed and embarrassed when I had looked around Commonwealth and had seen all the empty seats as the Senior Day ceremonies had begun, and I certainly sense you feel the same. As Cammie and UKFMLY say, those young men had deserved FAR better from us fans.

    Those seniors had deserved, instead, a tremendous amount of appreciation. The fifth-year seniors have gone to four straight bowl games and are now eligible for a fifth straight bowl, something that has never occurred in Kentucky football history. The fifth-year seniors have also been part of winning at least six games for five straight seasons, something that has not been accomplished since 1909-1913. Further, our football program has been clean during their careers, and their names have not been on the police blotters. As I see it, these seniors should make us very, very proud and anxious to show our appreciation, and while Kathy and many others had surely wanted to be there but had had legitimate reasons not to be there, there’s no way that had been the case for forty thousand fans. How could so many thousands of fans not be there to show their support and appreciation to a group of fine young men who have done SO much for our beloved football program!

    So, Cammie, we so feel the same. I read and hear fans’ complaints about the quality of play of our football team, even the performances of individual players — their displeasure that we have not yet climbed that SEC ladder. Yes, we ourselves are obviously not yet being SEC-calibre fans, either, as you so perfectly say. Yes, we fans, too, need to climb that SEC ladder.

    Yes, though, most of all, the twenty thousand or so who HAD been there do so appreciate/love our seniors. May those seniors and all of our Wildcats realize that. Also, yes, how proud I, too, am of those who had been there honoring our seniors — and even more proud of the seniors, the other players, Coach Joker Phillips and his assistants, and our athletic administrators. Yes, they have all so improved our football program, along with Coach Rich Brooks, and they’ve DONE IT RIGHT. Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of them — and, again, outstanding post, Cammie.

  • MickintheHam says:

    Larry, I think you also have to factor into the turnout is the number of fans UK has who live in the Central time zone. To get to the stadium for an 11:00 AM Ceremony requires an extra early start for fans from Owensboro, Hoptown, Madisonville, Bowling Green and Nashville. A one day trip from anywhere past Madisonville probably isn’t doable for an 11:00 am game. A three to four hour trip plus 30 to 45 minutes in pregame traffic make for a very early start for the ones who do make the journey. I don’t know of a single SEC school in the Central time zone that doesn’t have trouble with the 11:00 am starts and having a full house at kickoff.

    Also, one under reported fact is that UK is dependent on visiting tickets for sellouts. How many of the 8 to 10k typically set aside for visitors did Vandy sell? Did they bring more than 800 fans? As for the remaining empty seats you have to attribute much of it to this year’s 4000 or so non renewals on season tix. Folks bought the individual tix to Aubie, USC and UGA but passed on much of the rest. I don’t recall Akron or CSU being completely sold out. WKU had a few empties. Many fans are particular about how and where they spend their money. It will take a few years to get past the ticket price increases begun this season.

  • UKFAN says:

    I agree it is a shame more fans didn’t show up for Senior Day. These players should have been treated to a full stadium for all their hard work. I would like to know how many of those empty seats belonged to the students. Mick makes a very good point for the Western part of the State. People love to tailgate when coming to UK football games. The early game cuts down their time to have any fun before the game.

    Also the ticket and parking increases are beginning to have a adverse affect on the common fan. Fans parking passes were doubled and then moved further away from the stadium. My friends decided the donation and parking fees were unreasonable and dropped 4 season tickets. I’m sure others have done the vary same thing. This is not the way to treat loyal fans who enjoy UK Football. The University has chosen this route but they will pay for it in the long run. The new fans they are fliting with will expect to see something for their money. If this isn’t achieved more of last Saturday’s attendence problems will be the norm.

  • Btowncatfan says:

    I was there and on time to see the activities. I have to say it was embarrasing as a fan to see so many empty seats. Also could you imagine what recruits who were in town might be thinking at such a poor showing. All these guys being honored deserved a better turnout than they received, not to mention this may be the last time we see Randall Cobb in commonwealth. Once again, EMBARRASING!

  • Mike Flannery says:

    My wife and I were there and enjoyed the senior day activities. These kids have worked hard for 4 and 5 years to elevate this program. I did enjoy the it was done this year a little closer to kickoff. We are usually there for the “catwalk” most of the time. If things “fall” well with some other teams, UK has an outside chance of getting to the Chick-Fil-A bowl…UGA needs to lose to Tech and MSU needs to lose to LSU and Ole Miss. All things being equal, the old “Peach” folks may pick UK over MSU. We need 2 teams in the BCS to facilitate this scenario…. Thanks Again to all the kids in our program for their years of hard work!

  • Paul says:

    I’m not sure I would fault a fan base that consistently keeps UK football attendance near the top twenty in the country (in 2009 we were no. 22 I believe) in spite of the fact that the team rarely finds itself in the same company. My point is that generally speaking, the fans keep coming back for more; year after year. That said, I might chalk up the poor showing this past Saturday primarily to the lack of proper promotion by the university. The football program is clearly not a priority to the administration and hasn’t been for many decades. Also, I think it is predictable that as the season grinds along, the fans become weary. Who wouldn’t get tired of writing off the better part of a whole day to watch a mediocre team play mediocre football? After all, football is a product and the last time I checked, we still live in a free market economy (barely). If the product isn’t all that good, fewer people will be willing to buy it.

  • JHB4UK says:

    1-5 SEC record Larry, and last week an awful 1-AA team had us tied at 14 all in the 2nd quarter. This team’s disappointing play the last 7 games of the season going into the Vandy game just crushed the spirit and enthusiasm of the UK fanbase. And fans were enthused and excited, look at the packed stands for games against awful WKU and Akron back in September.

    Not anymore complicated than that folks IMO FWIW

  • kywildcat_96 says:

    I’ve had season tickets for about 18 years and always get in for senior ceremonies. I missed them this year, however because I thought the game started at 12:30.

  • larryvaught says:

    Enjoying comments pro and con. Can excuse central time zone folks. But still not sure why so many at the game didn’t come. I know many, many folks were in the parking lot and just didn’t come in. Maybe it it is just the parent in me and remembering how special my son’s college Senior Day was to him — and his parents

  • papablu says:

    The weather was beautiful for mid November. The parking lots were FULL of tailgaters cooking, eatig, drinking, reveling and having a great time. I glanced at the time and It only then dawned on me that a 12:20 kickoff would mean that Senior day would mean getting into the stadium ealier than 12:10. That was my “Duh” moment.

    I knew today was Senior Day as much as the Seniors themselves but I was having such a great time enjoying the weather and socializing that I ALMOST forgot about it. I would guess there were thousands of fans that did the exact same thing, only they didnt have their “duh” moment or they just chose to stay outside until the last moment.

    Now I am going to suggest (as I have in the past) that UK really needs to help guide the “audience” (and a semi-captive one at that) in the direction they want. This is one thing that I believe UK is absolutely HORRIBLE at. Marketing their brand. They do an absolute terrible job with their students, and with the fans. They do not organize, they do not promote, they do not LEAD their audience!!!

    With that said, I understand people are going to say that as fans we should not have to be reminded that it is Senior Day on the last home game of the season. Get in the stands early. But I am going to tell them that I am a HUGE UK sports fan. I knew this day was coming the day the schedule was realeased and I almost forgot about it standing in parking lot!!! Would it have cost the the University anything to remind the students all week to get in the stands early and give them something to incent them to be there? Would it have cost the University anything to have some student/parent volunteers to go through the blue lot reminding people to get in the stands early to support the seniors? There are SO MANY THINGS that can IMPROVE the fan/player/student experience that would cost little to nothing and UK has a marketing dept with marketing students needing internships I really cant understand why in some areas Marketing UKs sports teams is a bad as it it. In some cases it is really just pathetic.

    Some of the comments about the fans ARE warranted and I may agree with some. And if UK was doing everything they could to do help change or make the fan culture better I would blame the fans even more….but they are not, and they need to know and understand that.

  • Hugh Ward says:

    Like Larry, I can excuse some of the Central Time Zone fans, but to be in the parking lot and not bother to salute and thank those players who have been at UK 4-5 years is an insult to them. I believe Cammie was right when noting that UK fans are not yet SEC football fans. I have lived in several parts of the country, and on Senior Day, there is usually a huge crowd to salute the seniors. For example, my daughter went to Texas – they are FOOTBALL fans! It really shouldn’t matter about the record, or how the team is playing. These young men have done everything other students have to do, PLUS worked out, practiced, traveled to away games, and worked hard. They at least deserve a salute for their contribution to the university. I am afraid that if I was a potential recruit, the poor turnout at Senior Day would certainly be a factor. If fans want a good football team, then act like it – show up and thank those kids who spent many hours working to become better. Their record may not have been the best, but salute their effort. I guess we have forgotten the aspect of saluting those who do their best. I certainly salute the seniors, and offer a big THANK YOU>

  • Davis says:

    I grew up in Kentucky, but have moved away. If I could have gone, I would have. It’s hard for me to criticize fans who didn’t make it on time, because I lived four blocks from the stadium. It was easy for me to get there in time to catch the end of warm-up.
    I feel like there’s young talent on this year’s team that could make this team even better next year. They deserve a better effort from the fans, and if I can figure out a way to get myself there next year I will.
    Thanks to Mike, Derrick and the rest of the seniors.

  • Brandon Brown says:

    I wanted to go to the game, but I had a lot of work to do this weekend. I’m a Masters student at U of C in aerospace engineering. IF U K had aerospace, that’s where I would be right now.

    I’m thinking about going to Neyland for the UT game though.

  • Steve says:

    I was there. My son and my self sit in section 123. I would say that it was about 20% full. The thing that disappoints me is that hardly any students show up to cheer for their fellow students. I wanted to make sure that Harline and Locke got some love from me because they sure made me happy through the years. Best of luck to all off seniors and BEAT TENNESSEE.

  • Marko says:

    1. Early start 2. Local TV Broadcast 3. No halftime “pass outs” for tailgaters to recharge

    Everyone was still at their tail gate trying to catch a buzz and watching it on their flat panel TV’s. After watching yet another slow start by the KittyKats, most decided it wasn’t worth the trip inside. Also, the in-thing now is to have two sets of tickets in order to get back to your car at halftime and grab a drink or two. There are plenty of tickets given away each week to do so. That’s how the attendance numbers are so much higher than actual people in the stands. UK needs to readopt a halftime pass-out program – especially for the early games.

  • Brad Wellons says:

    Larry, that’s disappointing that there were so few fans in the stadium for senior day, but I can only echo what a few others have stated. Compared to other SEC schools, UK athletics does a very poor job of communicating the events they want fans to participate in, like Senior Day or Homecoming or the CatWalk, etc. My dad and I have had UK football tickets since 1973 and I live in Mississippi now and I have had the chance to go to alot of games down here (Ole Miss, State, Bama, LSU, Arkansas) and they do a much better job of getting the word out as to what they want the fans to do and when they need to be in the seats.

    Having said that, watch the UK faithful pack the stadium against Tennessee. We will be there en masse and end the streak.

  • Mike says:

    I think if they sold beer inside there would be a lot more fans in there for the senior day.

  • Amy says:

    Let’s face it… a great percentage of “fans” at the game are there only for social reasons. It has become a social “event” in this town, much like Keeneland, to go to football games, tailgate, etc. I agree that our fans are not SEC-caliber fans at this point.

    Having said that, I’m sure a dramatic increase in the quality of play would advance our fan base accordingly. Just a shame that most people don’t understand that fna support is part of what it’s going to take to get there.

  • Robbie says:

    My girlfriend and I were walking down Alumni when Senior Day events started. I told her that I believed they started earlier than in the past. I always thought they started about 20 minutes before kickoff but this year I believe they started much earlier. I tried! As for the low turnout during Senior Day and the game, I think that on average, there is always a lower turnout for a Vandy Senior Day as opposed to a Tennessee Senior Day. The early kickoff didn’t help much either.

  • Jeff Walton says:

    I’ have been embarrassed at our “fan showing” for quite a while on Senior Day. Even last year was pretty weak IMO for what was a stellar group of young men. The truth is UK fans, as a whole, aren’t really football fans. Very few people that I know actually prefer UK football over UK basketball as I do. Heck, I get ridiculed in my own family.
    Until UK can consistently win more games and continue to beat some top programs, apathy will remain. We are not very “football Intelligent” here for the most part. When that happens, more will jump on the bandwagon and stay, although I still doubt “Senior Day” will be that important to most. They prefer to stay in the parking lot and drink one more beer than to come give a group of young men who have given all to Uk football a proper sendoff. It’s just plain embarrassing to this faithful fan!!

  • Matt says:

    I was at the game and unfortunately missed the Senior Day event due to a hungry 5 month old baby. We have been season ticket holders for 6 years and this was the first one we missed. Standing at the top of the purple lot, I could not see one person in the bleachers on the upper level. I wasn’t even in the stadium and felt embarrassed to be Kentucky fan.

    I do agree with some earlier comments about the administration informing the fans. UK does a poor job of promoting gameday activities, but at the end of the day we as fans should know better. Shame on us for not being their for our seniors.

  • larryvaught says:

    One of our best threads with so many different, and justified, opinions here. I appreciate all the honesty and insight. I do agree that playing Tennessee vs. Vandy probably had a lot to do with it. Same for the early start. And it does seem to me now that Senior Day was a bit earlier than normal in comparison to kickoff. But also agree none of that is the players’ fault and still expected a better crowd. But at least these comments help explain part of it.

  • Jim says:

    Cause ur UK, This is why the bear left. Roll Tide!

  • Beth says:

    Ever think that maybe the reason the stadium isnt packed is because of ticket prices? Arent they look 40 bucks? People are broke these days. I know I cant afford $40. Now when I start my new career job yeah I could, but not now. Just like I think its crazy that basketball prices has spiked. But there’s a difference between the two. UK fans are willing to pay almost whatever for basketball tickets, but fact is, football isnt as coveted as basketball. The economy has a lot to do with it. Obviously not the only factor, but a big part.
    Jim, Bear Bryant left cuz he got screwed over, I dont blame him leaving. But you better be glad he did of Bama football woulda never been. So you’re welcome for the gift. Just shows how dumb our AD was back then. Like Pat Summit. If they woulda paid her 100 or 200 dollar moving expense, she woulda been at UK. Can you imagine? UK’s women’s and men’s basketball team and football teams could have all been national powerhouses. Makes me kinda sick to me stomach when thinking about it. BTW, I like Alabama football, their my second favorite team. So dont come on here to be jerk.

  • King Ghidora says:

    If I had to guess I’d say it was the early kickoff time but I really wouldn’t know. I just know it’s a shame that no more showed up to honor a group that had lifted the level of UK football from doormat to contender. Yes they have been disappointing this year but let’s remember that they had Auburn beat but blew it. These seniors also beat #1 LSU not so long ago. When was the last time we could say that about a UK football team?

    I regret not being able to attend UK games because of the distance to Lexington from where I live but I would certainly like to be there. Plus my health isn’t so great and going to games is hard on me. I did manage to make it to some Ohio St. games the past few years because my daughter was going there but it was very hard on me and we have turned down a lot of tickets since then for that reason. But Lexington is a lot farther for me and I really don’t have a connection for tickets and they do sell out Commonwealth very often. UK will always be my team for many reasons but getting there to find out you can’t get tickets is something I wouldn’t like much at all.

    Still I’m disappointed that Cat fans didn’t fill the stadium for these seniors. That sort of thing is not only insulting but it hurts recruiting. Imagine being a recruit and taking your official visit that day. You wouldn’t like what you see.

    I think the university made a mistake making the game start so early. People don’t want to start drinking that early and let’s face it, a lot of people show up for the party. I don’t drink so that wouldn’t be a problem for me but early games benefit tv and very little else. And considering this game wasn’t even on tv I can’t imagine why the university scheduled it so early.

  • Tana says:

    King, actually, the game had been on SEC-TV, so Kentucky had not played a part in scheduling the game. Yes, though, not only had the mostly empty stadium been “insulting” to our seniors who have done so much for our football program, but also, as you also say, potentially “hurtful” to recruiting, which is the path to getting that “quality” of play some are demanding BEFORE they will show up for games/Senior Day ceremonies. Go figure. GO CATS!!!

  • rod m says:

    Great comments all, many are right, social aspect is one that can’t be denied – but not htat important to many. Good luck to all the Seniors and all the team – great kids, great students. Go Cats – beat UT

  • larry vaught says:

    Well said Rod

  • King Ghidora says:

    That explains why the game was scheduled so early but it doesn’t explain why UK agreed to go along with it. There’s a reason games have never been scheduled that early before tv decided they could squeeze in a little more football during the day. And BTW it wasn’t on in my area so that’s why I thought it wasn’t on. Plus I heard someone else say it wasn’t on.

  • larryvaught says:

    It was on the SEC TV Network across the south. And UK has no choice but to accept kickoff times that the SEC sets. Part of the deal to get millions per year from the TV contract

  • Greg says:

    We live in Nashville. It’s a hard driving 3 hour trip to the parking lot, plus walk-time to the stadium. We left home at 7:30 a.m. CST intending to make the ceremony. Unfortunately, we didn’t get inside the stadium until noon. Those early games are tough on folks who have to travel.
    These seniors have honored themselves and UK. They deserve all of the fan support they’ve received and more.
    I’m not going to criticize the fan base. We endured much in my 40 years as a fan, most of it bad. Still, we show up well for most games. Commonwealth has been rocking several times in the last 3-4 years. It’s been terrific to experience.
    After the last 10-12 years of hoops, count me as one who enjoys the football experience more than UK basketball. Here’s hoping for excellence in both and good luck to both teams down the road.

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