On Sunday afternoon, it was announced that the Kentucky Wildcats will travel to Nashville to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Music City Bowl on New Year's Eve. There is only one big problem with that scenario...the kickoff is at the same time as the UK vs. Louisville Cardinals basketball game at Rupp Arena.
In what has become a scheduling nightmare for the UK Athletics department, the matchups could not have ended up any worse.
Let’s start with football.
The matchup with Iowa gives the Cats the second straight bowl-game against Mark Stoops alma mater. After a win over the Hawkeyes in the Citrus Bowl last year, UK will look to pull off another win against one of the worst offenses in the country.
Pair that alongside both teams’ offensive woes, and this game is setting up to be a rock fight in the Music City.
For basketball, the matchup with Louisville is shaping up to look like a gimme game. The Cardinals got blown out once again at home today, and have fallen to 0-8 on the season. UK may very well be a 20+ point favorite when this game tips off.
So, was it possible for UK to play in a different bowl game and avoid this scenario?
“Certainly Kentucky is very attractive to us,” Las Vegas Bowl executive director John Saccenti told the Herald-Leader on Friday, before the weekend games. “We’ve not had them play in our game on the football side of things, but we’ve certainly seen how passionate and how committed their fan base is. They are certainly one that is in there.”
However, playing in that bowl could have become problematic for the football team. The Las Vegas Bowl is played on December 17th, the final Saturday before the early football signing period begins on December 21st.
Normally, the final week before the early signing period is a major one for recruiting, as coaches are either on the road visiting recruits or hosting them on campus for visits.
Obviously, that would be very hard, if not impossible to do while preparing in Vegas for the bowl game. It doesn’t help that UK is currently searching for a new offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator, and running backs coach.
As Justin Rowland notes, UK AD Mitch Barnhart made the right call for the sake of the football program if it was his call to pass on the Las Vegas Bowl in favor of the Music City Bowl.
If Mitch kept Kentucky out of the Vegas Bowl so Stoops can fill his staff and recruit on the eve of the early signing period that is a significant W for Kentucky football.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) December 4, 2022
Now, it’s time to just go get two wins and end the football season on a high note while thrashing the Cards for a feel-good win on the hardwood!