Early on Sunday, everyone had pretty much universally accepted the fact that Kentucky was heading to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville (FL) vs. the Indiana Hoosiers.
But later in the afternoon, rumblings began to surface that Tennessee was pushing back on the SEC and asking for the Gator Bowl invite for themselves. It sounds like Tennessee athletics director Phil Fulmer was the driving force behind this.
So in an unbelievable turn of events, Kentucky was sent to the Belk Bowl instead. The Cats will now take on the Virginia Tech Hokies at 12:00 pm EST on December 31st in Charlotte (NC) on ESPN.
This will be the final game for two legends, as Lynn Bowden will look like to lead Kentucky to one more win before he likely heads to the NFL Draft, while long-time Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster will call his final game before heading into retirement.
Needless to say there was some strong opinions floating around on Twitter after the formal announcement was made. Here are some of the best reactions.
I would love to know how the Fulmer-SEC conversations went down today— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) December 8, 2019
I actually like the game against Virginia Tech BUT
I sure would think UK-IU and UT-UL would have been better draws than
End result of Fulmer complaints is fewer tickets sold
And just like in basketball, the IU “rivalry” is left behind for matchups with more prominent schools— JP (@JPaulYall) December 8, 2019
Whatever led to Louisville vs. Tennessee and Kentucky vs. Indiana turning into Louisville vs. Mississippi State and Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech is super lame.— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) December 8, 2019
While I think UK fans should think long and hard before arguing football with UT fans, it is PEAK vol nation to brag about swinging the biggest you know what to leverage the Gator Bowl https://t.co/mXV6zqpj6I— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) December 8, 2019
Strange how it all happened and yeah Jacksonville would’ve been nice but I’m honestly pretty stoked to get the Belk Bowl.— Michael Paul Clark (@UKDad21) December 8, 2019
*Name/national program opponent
*Bowl we haven’t played in before
*Belk Bowl is a much higher payout
*Charlotte is an easy drive from Ky#BeatTheHokies
It's official (finally): #Hokies (8-4) will play New Years Eve against Kentucky (7-5) in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte.— Norm Wood (@normwood) December 8, 2019
Oh, and it's a FANTASTIC noon kickoff. Loving that part of this game...
...aaaannnddd that's about it.
That being said, I think the Belk Bowl is a great fit for Kentucky. Beat Virginia Tech, and you've got a ton of momentum.— Jon Hale (@JonHale_CJ) December 8, 2019
New bowl destination. Easy place to get to from Kentucky. https://t.co/EwelDB5mTC
Belk Bowl Payout last year was $4.5 million vs $3.1 million in the Gator Bowl. Fans may prefer Florida but I like the VaTech matchup better than IU— Keith Garrett (@B3KeithG) December 8, 2019
From a fan interest the SEC really messed up today.— T.J. Walker (@TJWalkerRadio) December 8, 2019
I’m sure there are some #BBN members that made non-refundable trip plans to Jacksonville this afternoon. Ouch.— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) December 8, 2019
We're bringing the noise to the #BelkBowl this New Years Eve at noon. We look forward to rounding out the year, and the decade, cheering on another Cats win! #BringIt#SoundOfTheWildcats— The Wildcat Marching Band (@UKWildcatBand) December 8, 2019
: David McRae pic.twitter.com/aA8jIh0aFQ
Charlotte has a lot to offer. Kentucky has never played a football game in the Queen City.https://t.co/Y5KaAKet66— Josh Moore (@JoshMooreHL) December 8, 2019
It would’ve been fun to renew the Kentucky/Indiana rivalry but I think a win over a program like Virginia Tech would be bigger for the program.— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) December 8, 2019
UofL vs. UT would have nearly filled the stadium. UK vs. UT would have had more fans than UT vs. IU. Belk Bowl will have more fans with UK than MSU but not by an incredibly wide margin. https://t.co/8u80pyi6Gi— T.J. Walker (@TJWalkerRadio) December 8, 2019
This is Lynn Bowdens last game at UK and other seniors that have continued to build this program. If you have the ability to go to Belk Bowl and don’t go just because it isn’t Florida that’s a real disservice to these kids. #BeatHokies— UK 7-5 UK 7-1 Ravens 11-2 (@smcgohon21) December 8, 2019
UK is headed to Charlotte to play in the Belk Bowl against Virginia Tech on December 31st at Noon. UK leads the series 11-6-2 but haven't played since 1987. There's one Ky. kid on the roster roster. Freshmen OL, Bryan Hudson of @ScottCoSports— Keith Farmer (@KeithFarmer18) December 8, 2019
So @UKFootball gets the @belkbowl instead of the @taxslayerbowl. That really stinks. On one hand, UK will get to play in its 4th different bowl game in 4 years. On the other hand, Charlotte is...well...Charlotte.— Stephen Huntsman (@ThirdandVermont) December 8, 2019
Virginia Tech ranks 27th nationally in run defense, allowing just 123.3 yards per game on the ground. Kentucky ranks fourth nationally in rushing offense at 274.4 yards per game.— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) December 8, 2019