For the first time since 1994, Eastern Kentucky University is hosting a football playoff game. One of the biggest challenges may be getting fans to the stadium. Eastern takes on James Madison Saturday in the Football Championship Subdivision contest. The game kicks off just past noon in Roy Kidd Stadium. Just down the road in Lexington UK will battle Tennessee in a season finale. Colonel coach Dean Hood says Kentucky has been wonderful to Eastern in scheduling games and offering facilities. But Hood admits the Big Blue is Eastern’s biggest enemy when it comes to attendance.
“My opinion, shouldn’t be..you know we don’t want to be Kentucky’s team we just want to be Madison County’s team…and for the life of me it’s hard to figure out why as many people as we have in Madison County we can just be like a big high school and everybody’s puts a sign on their door that says ‘gone to the game,” said Hood.
For the first time ever, Eastern Kentucky University and James Madison University will meet on the football field. The stakes are high as both teams are looking to advance Saturday in the national championship playoffs. Both squads finished the regular season at seven and four. Hood says J-M-U plays in the Colonial Athletic Conference, known for advancing teams in the playoffs.
“Here in the last seven or eight years…James Madison won a national championship… Villanova win a national championship…Richmond won a national championship…teams in that league…you know that league getting five to six teams in and all of them winning their first round games….it’s a great conference,” said Hood.
It’s been 15 years since an Ohio Valley Conference football team won a playoff game in the race for a national championship. The last time Eastern Kentucky University hosted a playoff game was 1994, which happened to be the last Colonel victory in the playoffs. Dean Hood says it’s difficult to explain a 15 year dry spell for O-V-C schools.
“Maybe it’s just the talent pool has just gotten bigger because of the fact there hasn’t been a whole bunch of schools added over in the northeast…you know maybe it’s purely geography…but I don’t know,” added Hood.
Hood says a number of schools in the south have moved up to division one while other schools in the east have dropped down to a lower division. Eastern has tended to recruit fairly heavily in the south. Kickoff again for Saturday’s Colonel-Duke game is just past noon