Dubbing UK’s appearance in the BBVA Compass Bowl as “Operation Thank You,” Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart said the school hoped its fans would buy tickets to give children, military veterans and senior citizens in the Birmingham area.
Barnhart acknowledged that tickets sales might not be brisk for the Jan. 8 bowl in which Kentucky plays Pittsburgh.
“The date’s a little more difficult” when compared to UK’s bowl trips the past four years. “We’ve sold a few thousand tickets so far, which is good.”
“Operation Thank You” was intended to “show the players this is not about them,” Barnhart said. “This is about the (Birmingham) community.”
One woman recently bought 40 tickets for an organization named “Wounded Warriors.”
In previous bowls, UK might have thought game organizers should grateful to have Kentucky’s team, Barnhart said. “This time, it’s a privilege to be there.”
Winning will be important, too, Barnhart said. A bowl victory makes the off-season “immensely better,” he said.