If the crowd of 50,000 on hand for Kentucky’s spring game wasn’t enough to get your attention, check out these numbers:
First — 35,342. Second — 21.4%
The first number represents how many football season tickets Kentucky has already sold for the 2013 football season. The second number represents the expected increase in season-ticket sales over the 2012 season, Joker Phillips’ final year as the Wildcats’ coach.
When new coaches take over programs, there is usually a revival in interest in the program. Indeed, Kentucky, Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee — all with new coaches this season — all finished among the top five in SEC spring game attendance. (Defending BCS champ Alabama also placed in the top five.)
Kentucky seems to be feeling more than just new-coach zeal, however. Mark Stoops has certainly raised expectations and raised the Cats’ profile on the recruiting trail, but his choice of offensive coordinator has played just as big a role in renewed fan interest.
In December, Stoops named 33-year-old, ex-UK player Neal Brown as his coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Brown is a proponent of the up-tempo, throw-it-all-over-the-yard style taught by the coaches he played under in Lexington — head coach Hal Mumme and assistants Mike Leach and Tony Franklin. As a result, the UK athletics department has wisely taken advantage of the return of the “Air Raid offense” in every way imaginable, including in this Super Bowl ad trotted out in the Commowealth State this past February:
Judging by the season tickets sold to date, that air raid siren is being heard loud and clear by Wildcat fans.