Kentucky fan interest surging

Hold your jokes about Kentucky football and the ‘basketball school’ agenda.

Fan interest for Kentucky football is surging. Sure, part of it probably has to do with the basketball team having a forgettable season, helping renew optimism for the beloved SEC sport.

But Mark Stoops deserves the bulk of the credit.

Kentucky’s 50,831-fan turnout for the spring game doesn’t look like a fluke after all. In fact, Kentucky’s spring turnout was the sixth largest in the country, behind Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Nebraska and Arkansas. Season ticket sale renewals are well ahead of last year’s mark – as evidenced by numbers that were released by the university yesterday.

Kentucky sold a total of 38,475 season tickets in 2012, and already the university has sold 35,342 for 2013, just 3,133 away from matching that number nearing the end of April, with several big marketing ploys coming this summer. They’ll blow that number out of the water.

At this time last year, the sales only reached 17,647 tickets.

I put Kentucky in the top five fan bases that are looking forward to 2013 the most. Dubbed crazy at the time, this helps to somewhat justify my position.

The optimism may be at an all-time high. Stoops’ recruiting, energy and passion for the game have breathed life into an exhausted two-win fan base.

Kentucky, backed by the powerful SEC brand and a new, aggressive head coach, is making waves and invading the powerful Big Ten state of Ohio. Stoops, an Ohio native, is starting to really make his mark in the Buckeye state in recruiting. The Wildcats currently have three commitments for the 2014 recruiting class, and all three are from Ohio.

Obviously, the biggest momentum push, or drop, will come during the season, when the reality of the country’s toughest schedule will come to fruition.

But knowing Stoops, he welcomes the tough schedule, because he knows if he can somehow notch six wins, Kentucky football could reach Ole Miss momentum in 2014.

Photo Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports