Should UK enhance non-conference schedule?


Shane Shackleford

By Shane Shackleford, Sports Columnist


In the evolving world of college football where the words superconferences and alliances are being batted around like popcorn at the cinema, a new concept is (and will be) an enhanced non-conference schedule.


In the last few years, many schools have decided to add a regional or nationally recognized program to their future schedules to build their national profile in hopes of moving up the totem pole that is the college football playoff system.


Should Kentucky football look into this?


Agreed, playing in the nation’s best conference is a pretty good schedule booster by any stretch.  However, the incline that the program is enjoying currently leads me to think that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing to add a bigger name regional program somewhere in the future.


(And no, I am not going to say line up Notre Dame or Ohio State right off the bat.  Small bites here.)


I’ve put together a small list of schools I feel could fit the profile the Cats need to enhance their national identity.


  1. Virginia Tech – This would be my first choice.  Blacksburg isn’t too far from Lexington, plus in the ’80s the Cats and Hokies played some games.  Tech is a solid program and the fan interest would be high.
  2. Marshall – The Thundering Herd is another “local” program that could resonate with the fanbase of both programs.  Huntington and Lexington are connected by I-64 and both programs are growing.
  3. Cincinnati – Again, the programs are linked by an Interstate and would drum up significant local interest.  The Bearcats are a year removed from playing in the New Year’s Six and feature several local football products.
  4. Indiana – Is it time to renew this rivalry on the gridiron?  The Hoosiers are on an incline coming off a New Year’s Day bowl appearance and should have played in the Big 10 championship game last season.
  5. West Virginia – A home and home with the Mountaineers would be very attractive for both programs.  With West Virginia having a former Cat at the controls in Neal Brown and the possibility of the school switching to the ACC or even back to the Big East as a result of the continuing meltdown of the Big 12, now could be the time to make this game happen.

Of course, there are a myriad of schools out there who would love to play an SEC school as part of their non conference schedule.  I’m not saying the Cats should get rid of any smaller schools just for the sake of upgrading the schedule.  The SEC schedule alone is a war each Saturday.


I’m suggesting that with the trajectory the Cats are currently on that maybe it’s time to look at adding a regional team to the schedule.


What do you think?  Should the Cats add a school to the future schedule?