Jen Smith on UK Football

It’s complicated: Conrad family having to get creative to make it to sons’ games

If you happen to run into Mike and Lois Conrad in the early morning hours before Kentucky plays on Saturday, you might want to offer them a cup of coffee.

“We will get into Lexington somewhere around 5 a.m.,” said Mike, the father of Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad.

Mike and Lois also are the parents of another college football player: Austin, who plays for Ohio University. The Bobcats play at Purdue on Friday night at 8.

The proud parents of two college football players — and a former college softball player at Coastal Carolina, Mackenzie — have spent months formulating a plan so that at least one of them is at each son’s game this fall.

“We’re not going to miss any,” Mike said. “If one of them’s in uniform, one of us will be at the game.”

So last weekend, Lois made the trip to Southern Miss while Mike went to Ohio’s 59-0 win over Hampton where Austin made his debut at defensive end with a team-high tying six tackles.

Initially recruited as a tight end, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound redshirt freshman moved to defensive end a week before the opener and had just three days of practice at his new spot.

On Friday night, the Conrads will be in West Lafayette, Ind., for that late game and then head the 260 miles toward Lexington for a noon home opener for their older son, C.J. The Cats take on Eastern Kentucky at noon on the SEC Network.

“We were really hoping for a night game,” Mike Conrad confessed. “If there was ever a time we were hoping for a night game this was it. So we’ll get a couple hours of sleep and we’ll roll over there.”

This is one of many weeks with complicated travel plans. So complicated in fact, that the Conrad family has created a schematic with games and dates and other key details.

“We’ve got a big spreadsheet with hotels booked and airfares booked and rental cars done from here all the way to Florida and back around,” he said. “We’re really pretty lucky. There are six conflicts out of 12. It could’ve been way worse than that.”

The “luck” comes in the form of the Mid-American Conference playing several league games on weeknights in November.

“That helps, but it makes for really long weeks,” Conrad said. It will mean a trip to Lexington on Nov. 4 for Ole Miss, followed by a trip to Athens, Ohio, for Toledo at the Bobcats on Nov. 8, then turning around three days later for UK at Vanderbilt.

It’s a complicated, but fun mess.

Of the six conflicting Saturdays, the Conrads split those games up as judiciously as possible.

“She’s got some favorites,” Mike said of his wife, Lois. “We both really loved South Carolina two years ago and that was one of them that she grabbed right away. I was kind of disappointed in that.

“We both picked one. She wanted that one and I wanted to make sure I was (versus) Florida at home. That was our ‘for sure ones,’ then we worked around the other ones, too.”