Nobody gave UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart more grief about moving the UK-U of L football game out of its leadoff position last year than I did. At least, I don’t think anybody gave him more grief about it.
Now comes news from The C-J that Barnhart balked on an ESPN offer to move the UK-U of L game next season into the Monday Night Football time slot.
Barnhart says he won’t put his team at the disadvantage of a short turnaround before the following Saturday’s game against Norfolk State.
That’s a bit shaky. It’s no different from playing a Thursday night game after a Saturday game. The turnaround is the same. What is different is the night of the week. Barnhart said he’d play anytime Thursday through Sunday. I don’t see where playing on that Monday (a holiday) makes much difference competitively, and because you’re in the MNF slot, it’s not really a step-down in prestige.
But here’s where it is a problem. When the teams played on that Labor Day Sunday, it was the same as a weekend game. Most people had that Monday off, and most importantly, students had that Monday off.
But play on Monday night and you’ve got kids and families and college students (not to mention the ones playing the game) playing late on a school night. I know this is done all the time. Look at U of L’s schedule, and you see it done regularly.
And while being on national TV on Monday night might be nice for the rivalry’s image, in this case, it’s not necessarily the best thing for the rivalry’s players, or its fans.
In this case, I have no problem with Barnhart turning down the Monday night offer, even if my reasoning for playing on the weekend is different from his.