Kentucky coach Joker Phillips will be in familiar territory Thursday night when his team takes on WKU at L.P. Field in Nashville.
The Wildcats’ second-year head man is a Franklin, Ky., native — a town that sits about 40 miles up Interstate 65 from Nashville.
Perhaps it was Phillips’ familiarity with the area that led him to call Thursday’s game a home contest for UK.
“It’s just an opportunity for us to take the Kentucky brand to a different area that we hope will become a home type of event,” Phillips said Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference Coaches’ Media Teleconference.
Though the Toppers and Wildcats will be on a neutral field, the game is officially considered a home event for WKU.
WKU will wear home jerseys, have its logo on the 50-yard-line and display university signage behind both end zones.
All WKU students will get in free to the game as they do at other home events.
The UK athletic department declined comment to the Herald last week when asked how many tickets they had sold.
With the game kicking off at 9:15 p.m. ET, and factoring in the nearly 3.5-hour drive from UK to L.P. Field, there have been questions as to the number of Wildcat fans that will be in attendance.
However, Phillips said playing the game in Nashville is important to UK both from a recruiting and alumni perspective.
“It’s a chance to play in an NFL stadium, which is a huge thing we’ll use in recruiting,” he said. “It’s a chance to play in an area we view as an in-state area, recruiting in the Nashville area.
“It gives us a chance to get a little big closer to a different alumni group, to the Nashville alumni and also the Western Kentucky alumni group.”