There has been a lot of negative noise coming from the various and sundry quarters about the change. As in anything in life, any perceived negativity has a positive side. So let's scuba dive below the surface to find the rest of the story because that's where it resides.
The rivalry game as the opener has received unrivaled television coverage and with the game moved to the third game or later, it has lost the exclusivity it has heretofore enjoyed with that coverage - and may have endangered television coverage at all. But is that a bad thing for Kentucky?
Much like the University of Florida game that major networks seem to always carry, what true benefit to UK does the coverage provide? In both cases, recent years have yielded defeat for the Wildcats, and in some cases embarrassing defeat. So the question is, is all coverage good coverage? Obvious Coach Rich Brooks believes it does not.
Now some people may believe this is a bad year to switch the game for a couple of reasons. One reason is that UK has more talent returning on this year's team than it has had in many years and therefore has a better chance to win than in recent years. Perhaps so, but even if some level of television doesn't show the game, a UK win will make enough noise that the entire nation will sit up and take notice. Subsequently, there will be several more opportunities for UK to showcase their team to the nation and maybe bigger fish will be reeled in, so the lack of major television coverage would not damage Kentucky much in that event.
Another reason is the fact that maybe the timing is bad because U of L will come out of the chute with a new coach and an untested system and the operating of that system. The new coach theory is minimized in Louisville's case because of the wealth of talent on the Cardinal team. And too, UK will have two games to analyze what the new coach of the Cardinals will do with the team.
What are some reasons for moving the game from Brooks' perspective?
"With a schedule as tough as ours, it is beneficial to us to get a couple of games under our belt," an embattled Brooks explained. What he is saying is that with UK's killer schedule year after year, UK doesn't need to play its biggest rivalry game right out of the gate. Conversely, U of L believes it benefits them greatly to put fannies in the Papa John seats the rest of the season. What better way to whip up enthusiasm than a possible win over UK to start the season? In addition to that, of course, the Cards don't have the season long killer schedule to contend with so one of their biggest games of the year is highly beneficial to them to be seen right away.
Brooks said he is not concerned what, if any, advantage U of L may have by where the game is on the schedule. Athletic Director Mitch Barhart agreed. "We are trying to grow our program and this is the best way to do it for Kentucky," Barnhart said. "We've got to stop losing to Tennessee after losses in twenty-two straight seasons. People ought to be more angry about that rather than U of L."
Let's hypothesize for a moment. Suppose upon the exit of Bobby Petrino, Brooks tried to reschedule the game back to the first game to take advantage of U of L's new coach. Wouldn't that move have been seen as cowardly as some critics are trying to paint Brooks for moving the game to number three? Lets say that last season, UK lost to Louisiana Monroe or Vanderbilt, went 6-6, and suffered a four touchdown loss in a bowl game. In that case, fans wouldn't be so up in arms about the moving of the game; rather they would be calling for Brooks' job. So in some ways, Brooks has a no win situation– huh, imagine that!
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