COLUMN: Enough about the logistics; Let’s just play football

Cole Claybourn

The ticket sales are low. The game is in Nashville on a Thursday night. It’s a late kickoff.

Those sentiments have dictated headlines leading up to Thursday’s game between WKU and Kentucky at L.P. Field in Nashville.

It’s time now that we put those aside and finally start talking about football.

“It’s sort of become a story in and of itself, and we don’t want that,” said Athletics Director Ross Bjork of the logistical problems. “We want the focus to be on the game. We want people to treasure this moment, play in an NFL stadium and make the best of it.”

Fans have plenty of reason to be excited about the game.

Football-wise, it’s a battle between two in-state rivals. One hails from arguably the most powerful college football conference in the country, while the other is trying to finally make its mark on the Football Bowl Subdivision.

It’s also a battle of two young coaches, Willie Taggart and Joker Phillips, who are both trying to change the reputation of their alma maters.

 There seems to be some genuine belief among WKU fans that their team might actually knock off a Southeastern Conference opponent — something the Toppers have never done.

A victory over UK is the type of win that could bring WKU out of the deep hole that it’s been trying to dig itself out of since it became a fully fledged member of the FBS in 2009.

Moreover, WKU gets to host a game at an NFL Stadium for the first time in school history.

Since WKU is the home team, the surroundings will resemble Smith Stadium. The 50-yard-line and end zones will all be painted with WKU logos, and graphics will be prominently displayed around the stadium.

Students have every reason to go to the game, with the exception of having class or work.

Logistically, aside from picking them up and putting them in a seat, WKU has tried to make every effort to get students to the game.

Previously the plan was to allow just the first 4,000 students into the game for free, which would have been more than enough to cover the average student attendance at home games.

But just to be safe, WKU lifted that cap last week and announced that all students would be granted free admission if they showed up with their WKU student ID.

On Wednesday, Bjork said he wanted 5,000 students to show up for the game. President Gary Ransdell one-upped him and said he’d like to see 10,000 students.

“That’s great. That should be our mindset,” Bjork said. “We are focused on that. We need to make the best of this.”

The situation isn’t ideal, as many would prefer the game to be played at Smith Stadium on a Saturday rather than in Nashville on a Thursday night.

But consider this: it’s not often that people get to watch a football game for free in an NFL stadium. Add the fact that it’s your team, against an in-state rival, with a chance to make school history, and fans really should make the best of it.

That should be the topic of conversation. And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some football.