Let me start out by saying WOW!
After seeing season ticket sales dipping from around 45,000 to 31,000 and listening to certain media types talking about the decline of fan interest in the football program, you would think that a small event like Fan Day would suffer in attendance.
Not so fast my readers!
This was my third straight experience in the Nutter Training Facility. Each year it has grown quite a bit and being way early is always key. I got a late start this year and arrived around 8 o’clock to see that there were around 100 people between me and the door.
By the time the doors opened the line wrapped all the way back to the new training facility. A good judge of attendance is always how long it takes you to get through the lines at each position.
The fact that an average fan can’t get through all positions during the time allowed has always bothered me. It takes around 20 minutes to get through an average line, some positions take a bit longer.
Where you start is always important because by the time you get out of your first line you have hundreds of new fans filling other lines. This year I started with the fullbacks and tight ends. Vince Marrow was scheduled to sit with this crew but hadn’t made it to the table yet by the time I got there.
I asked CJ Conrad and Tanner Fink where he was, and they said he was running late, and I made sure they would give him a hard time about it, but something tells me the players don’t mess with big Vince much!
I moved on to the receivers, and this group has always had a bit more fun during the event than other groups. The music was more subdue this year and didn’t allow them to dance in their seats as much. Lamar Thomas had just set down when I got to the table, and I immediately asked him about a tweet I had saw not too long back where Stoops was ribbing him on beating him on the course.
The look when driving home after the boss man shoots 78 on ya !! Then he texts you to make sure you get home ok. pic.twitter.com/OMQCyvH6QT— Coach Lamar Thomas (@LamarCoachT) July 30, 2016
He responded with, “There’s times where you gotta let the boss man win! I don’t want a bad work environment; I just left that!”.
LT may be my favorite person ever associated with Kentucky Football! I did get to talk to a few of the players and had a couple of them put some wins down on the schedule portion of the poster. Ryan Kendall and Charles Moushey were quick to put the letter W on Louisville and Florida.
Freshman receiver Dakota Holtzclaw, who stands at 6 foot 7 inches tall and “You can’t teach that”, had a few noticeable tattoos and I asked how many he had. He told me “four at the moment” only pointing to ones on his left arm. He then went on to say that he is planning on an American flag to take place on his right arm.
From there I got in a very long line stationed around the great stable of running backs. I got to the table and asked Boom how bad he wanted to beat Louisville. He shook his head and laughed a bit before saying “Very bad”!
I then headed over to the quarterbacks line with about 30 minutes to go in the autograph session. Barker was first, and I asked him what we were going to do to Louisville, and he quickly and simply said, “beat em.”
I moved down the line and talked to everybody and had to ask Davis Mattingly if “today was gonna be a good day”!
All the quarterbacks within earshot had a good laugh at that one!
I got in the linebackers line and only hoped I could get through it before the time ran out. I approached the tables with about 5 minutes left and was pretty happy that I would get another groups autographs, little did I know I would get much more than that!
I worked myself down the line and marveled at Josh Allen and even made the comment that if they made a football version of Space Jam, he would be on the Monstars squad. I asked a few players who had the biggest arms on the squad and Courtney Love and Kash Daniel were mentioned.
Speaking of Kash, I asked him the same thing I asked Barker, “What are we going to do to Louisville.” His answer was simple, “Whip their....” Well, you get the point!
I didn’t hang out after the autograph sesso.n for the practice portion of the day because, well, you can’t “Catch em all” if you don’t go hunt!
No, but, seriously, the autograph session went well. It would be nice to come up with a way where all fans could get all the autographs they wanted without running out of time.
I’m also in the mindset that being a season ticket holders should have as many perks as possible to encourage sales and early entry to these kinds of events could help.
Do yourself a favor and go to this event in the future and keep an eye out for other fun and free events the athletics department offer.