Players, Ransdell react to UK gear on campus

Kyle Williams

You see it every day — the select WKU students walking through campus cloaked in Kentucky blue.

It may not be painful for some to endure UK gear on WKU’s campus, but for others, it’s a stab in the back.

“I wouldn’t call them out — but I wouldn’t go out of my way to talk to them,” WKU senior center Sean Conway said about students wearing Wildcat gear on WKU’s campus during game week. The Topper football team will kick off the season against the Wildcats in Nashville on Saturday.

Former football coach Willie Taggart described his distaste for UK gear on campus as bothersome before the third game of the season last year against the Wildcats, a game WKU won in overtime, 32-31.

Taggart also said WKU students wearing UK gear is likely because they weren’t accepted to the university, and that it makes no sense to support a school that declined your admittance.

Taggart, who is now the coach at South Florida, quickly apologized for his remarks. His quote drew attention to the topic, though — how much sense does it make for WKU students to support in-state competition?

This year, Topper fans may have more reason than ever before to wear red with pride.

New coach Bobby Petrino, hired last December, is 8-0 all time in season openers, which includes a 4-0 mark against a certain team from Lexington.

Nothing can stop an individual from wearing what he or she pleases, especially a sports fan. However, a person’s clothing can stand out and stand for more than one might expect.

President Gary Ransdell said students wearing red means more than just supporting an athletic team and that students wearing blue is accepted because it’s the beginning of the semester.

“When we see our students wear WKU stuff it’s not just about athletics,” Ransdell said. “It’s about institutional pride and it’s about what we’re doing academically.

“I usually ask them what bet they lost to have to wear that shirt…I’ve got a little more tolerance for it as we open the semester. I don’t have much tolerance for it if we’re a month or two into the semester.”

Sophomore quarterback Nelson Fishback, a junior college transfer from California, said via Twitter on Tuesday that the blue on campus annoys him, and this is his first year around the budding rivalry.

“It bothers me how many people walk around this campus with UK stuff on,” Fishback said. “I’m not even from here. Come on people, it’s game week.”

Senior running back Antonio Andrews said he’s used to students sporting blue on campus because WKU attracts students from all area codes.

“You’re going to see UK blue around campus,” Andrews said. “Because you get a lot of students from everywhere around the world. I feel if you’re going to rock with the Tops, you’re going to rock with the Tops…it is what it is.”

Despite that, he said he likes making those UK fans think twice next time their going through their closets.

“I know a lot of people get mad seeing all the UK stuff on campus,” Andrews said. “It’s always good to go up there and win — even though we’re going to Nashville — to come back with a win and come back on campus and see how much less blue you see walking around campus. It’s a good feeling.”