The Kentucky Wildcats are entering Southeastern Conference (SEC) play but even the mighty conference counterparts that visit might not help put fans in seats at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips is on the hot seat and early 2012 season attendance numbers aren’t helping his case to stick around in Lexington.
After returning 2,060 unsold tickets from its general allotment for the Governor’s Cup game on the road against the Louisville Cardinals on Sept. 2, Kentucky, following a 32-14 loss to UofL in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, drew 48,346 to Commonwealth Stadium for its home opener versus the Kent State Golden Flashes. That was the lowest crowd for a Kentucky home game since 1998.
Kentucky shook a slow start and managed to pull away for a convincing win over Mid-American Conference (MAC) member Kent State. Wildcat quarterback Maxwell Smith enjoyed a solid outing that was played in front of the small Kentucky home game crowd.
And Kentucky football fans still didn’t turn out as strong in numbers when the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers of the Sun Belt Conference visited Saturday night. In-state rival Western Kentucky sprinted out to a 17-0 lead and led 17-10 at halftime. Granted, many Kentucky fans who left early Saturday night missed an entertaining game, Western Kentucky managed to send the Kentucky gridiron program reeling back into the loss column. Western Kentucky edged the Wildcats 32-31 in overtime and after a 1-2 start, many fans might not be in attendance when the Wildcats return home from a game on the road versus the Florida Gators.
After venturing to The Swamp, Kentucky will return home to host the South Carolina Gamecocks and Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Kentucky coaching staff is quick to confirm that reaching a bowl game is still a goal. In its quest to become bowl eligible, Kentucky will also be fighting to keep fans.