Look for this billboard to arrive in downtown Louisville this week.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Check the football schedules of Western Kentucky and the University of Louisville. You will discover an appealing convenience for your viewing pleasure:
There are no overlaps between WKU and U of L home games. Go-getters could buckle their chinstraps and attend all 12 home games the two programs play.
On two of the weekends the Hilltoppers are home, the Cardinals are off. On two other weekends, the teams play on different dates – starting this weekend, when WKU opens at home against Bowling Green Friday night, three days before Louisville plays host to Miami on Labor Day night.
You know what that means?
WKU coach Jeff Brohm, a former quarterback at U of L and Trinity High School, has delivered an open invitation to football fans in metro Louisville to visit Bowling Green to watch his first WKU team.
Call it: “Spread the Red.”
“It's kind of a rallying cry for people to spread their love for football and people to follow these guys who grew up locally, to spread it down the road to Bowling Green and for WKU to spread it up to Louisville and show that red goes in both directions,” Brohm said.
Starting early this week, Brohm and two WKU players with Jefferson County roots – halfback Ace Wales of Central High School and Taywan Taylor, a receiver from Pleasure Ridge Park – will be featured on a billboard along I-65 and Brook Street, near old Male High School.
The billboard will remain there until Oct. 5 – and then reappear at Bardstown Road and the Gene Snyder Freeway from Oct. 6 through Nov. 3.
“With all of our ties and the large alumni base in the city, Louisville is a natural extension for the growth of our brand,” Brohm said.
“We wanted to make people in Louisville feel like part of the program … and try to be part of the conversation in Louisville.
“It's a perfect time to rev up some interest in both programs. All we're asking is fans in Louisville, if they haven't been down here before, to pick out one home game, come down and attend it. Sample the product. We think they'll have a great experience and hopefully keep coming back for more.”
Interest in WKU football continues to grow. WKU attracted 91,672 fans for five home games last season, an average of 18,334. In 2012, the Hilltoppers averaged 16,637 over seven home games while drawing 116,461 fans.
This will be WKU's first season in Conference USA, a league that included Louisville before the Cardinals joined the Big East in 2005. Although the Hilltoppers have 15 returning starters (including specialists), they are picked to finish in the middle of the C-USA East Division by several football publications.
Brohm's older, Greg, is also involved in this strategic push. Greg is WKU's director of football operations – as well as a former Trinity and U of L receiver.
“This billboard is part of an overall plan to expand the footprint of WKU football throughout the state,” Greg Brohm said. “With Jeff's deep roots in Louisville, with so many players and coaches within our program being from the area, and with the huge WKU alumni base in the city - Louisville is a natural extension for the growth of our brand.
“We don't want to compete with the loyalties that Louisville and Kentucky fans have for their favorite teams. We want to be a complement to that fandom. We want to be their second-favorite team.
“There is nothing wrong with rooting for multiple teams in football. People do it all the time. We think there is room in this state for a third established FBS program that competes for bowl games and championships and is pursuing a dream.”
The pitch by the Brohms to stir more interest in WKU football in Louisville is not limited to paying customers. Check the early recruiting results for the Class of 2015. The Hilltoppers have secured 11 commitments. All 11 are Kentucky high school players – five from Metro Louisville (two from Manual).
Coincidence? Hardly. Jeff Brohm believes in the quality of high school football in this state. Brohm and his coaches will take players wherever they can find them, but they are certain there are plenty of homegrown guys who can help WKU succeed in Conference USA.
“We're really focused on making sure that the best players in the state of Kentucky stay home and play,” Jeff Brohm said. “Our future will respect that goal.
“We know that a lot of times players from Kentucky get overlooked nationally. We feel we can be a viable option for those players.”