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Joker Phillips: pure class in statement addressing firing

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Even as the vultures circled over the dead man coaching tenure of Joker Phillips, there was one constant in the discussion of the coach’s future at Kentucky: he is one of the finest men at any level of coaching anyone’s ever been associated with.

Those vultures finally and officially came home to roost Sunday, with the Wildcats announcing that Phillips will not return as head coach in 2013.  A search for a replacement will commence immediately, and Phillips is expected to finish out the final two games of the 2012 season.

In the aftermath of his dismissal, Phillips issued a statement through the school addressing the termination.  And, for lack of a better way to put it, you’d be hard-pressed to find a classier exit from a man who played and coached at UK school for a total of more than two decades.

Here’s Phillips’ statement, in its entirety, and I defy you to not feel a twinge or two or eight of sadness as you read his words:

We, as coaches, are measured on results.  We didn’t get the results we had worked and hoped for, therefore change is needed.  In my current 10-year stay at Kentucky, we’ve had some memorable moments as an assistant, coordinator and head coach.  We’ve had the opportunity to coach some fine young men and I am grateful to have had the privilege of watching them grow as players, as students and as people.

I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here.  Mitch is the best athletic director I’ve ever been associated with.  He’s fair and honest and he’s “all in” in terms of student-athletes’ well-being.  Rich is the best mentor a young coach could ever have.  I learned a lot from him in terms of plowing ahead.  They are dear friends.   Dr. Lee Todd and Dr. Eli Capilouto have both been very supportive.  I appreciate the Big Blue Nation and encourage the fans to stay behind their team going forward.

I love our players and am proud to be associated with them.  I expect them to continue the behavior we have asked of them academically, socially and with football.  I’m thankful for the staff’s hard work, dedication, and what they have done in coaching and mentoring the players.  I’d like to thank my wife and family for all their support and for being behind me 100 percent.

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30 Responses to “Joker Phillips: pure class in statement addressing firing”
  1. indywvu says: Nov 4, 2012 4:27 PM

    I don’t know much about the man, but that was absolutely as classy as you could expect. I’m sure as much as he hated it, he absolutely knew it was coming. I have a feeling anyone that is going to go out that way is going to have no problem finding gainful employment at another program.

  2. woebegong says: Nov 4, 2012 4:38 PM

    He is a good coach but it would be hard to anybody to succeed at Kentucky in football. Somebody can use a good coach and he will get hired for another HC job.

  3. be4bama says: Nov 4, 2012 4:44 PM

    It’s tough coaching football at a basketball school. He’s well respected around the SEC.

  4. liquidalfa says: Nov 4, 2012 4:49 PM

    Heck of a nice guy but if you take over a program that’s gone to 4 straight bowls and you have 3 losing season’s something’s got to give. Talk about a Serious step back….they just lost to Vandy by 40. They aren’t even competitive anymore.

  5. pike573 says: Nov 4, 2012 4:51 PM

    I watched as he went through and shook hands with every last kentucky fan waiting outside the locker room at an away game, granted there weren’t a ton, but I haven’t seen another coach do that. Classy guy.

  6. jimbo75025 says: Nov 4, 2012 5:04 PM

    liquidalfa says:Nov 4, 2012 4:49 PM

    Heck of a nice guy but if you take over a program that’s gone to 4 straight bowls and you have 3 losing season’s something’s got to give.
    —————-
    Agreed. Big difference was in those bowl seasons, if I remember correctly their QB was actually pretty decent, what was his name, Woodson or something like that? Plus they had the advantage of some of their constant opponents being down during that period-Louisville post Petrino when they were not very good, things like that.

    I do not follow UK that closely, but just seems like they have not been able to get even a mid-tiered QB in a while and any more that is almost a requirement to win at any level past peewee.

    Joker always seemed like a good man though. Hope things work out for him and he finds success elsewhere as it is a shame when guys like Petrino et all always win, but the good guys do not pan out.

  7. cometkazie says: Nov 4, 2012 5:52 PM

    I think it was sad for the kids to play in front of a crowd that maybe filled a third of the stadium. It’s got to be disappointing.

    The team has had a lot of injuries, too.

  8. pricecube says: Nov 4, 2012 5:57 PM

    Good luck to Joker wherever he lands.

  9. alligatorsnapper says: Nov 4, 2012 6:06 PM

    Coach Phillips is a class act, always has been. Followed him for a few years. That is not to say he is not intense at times, but always classy and what a way to go, though all saw the handwriting on the wall.

    Maybe somehow Joker can get on with a program (AD, Trustees, fans, etc.) that actually will truly dedicate themselves to a winning football program. He deserves that.

  10. barnesaintnoble says: Nov 4, 2012 6:14 PM

    He is definitely a good guy. You look at their facilities (http://interactive.ukathletics.com/football/facilities.html) and they are actually pretty nice. The fact is, they are in the SEC and would probably need to leave that conference to ever be more than annual 6-6 at best team. They need to pluck a coordinator from Oregon and play some type of basketball on grass.

  11. jimbo75025 says: Nov 4, 2012 6:14 PM

    cometkazie says:Nov 4, 2012 5:52 PM

    I think it was sad for the kids to play in front of a crowd that maybe filled a third of the stadium. It’s got to be disappointing.
    ——-

    Yeah seeing that kind of reminded me of one of the scenes at the beginning of The Waterboy when there were like 10 people in the stands and the cheerleaders were all passed out from doing tequila shots a few minutes into the game.

  12. effjohntaylornorelation says: Nov 4, 2012 6:39 PM

    Like Taylor would know what class is.

  13. Deb says: Nov 4, 2012 9:17 PM

    eff, he knows more about it than you ever will.

  14. Deb says: Nov 4, 2012 9:22 PM

    Sad outcome for a coach in a difficult situation. I’m never sure what’s gained by firing a coach before the season ends. But he handled it beautifully, and perhaps this will give him a leg up in finding a position with another school where football is a greater priority. Wish him the best possible luck.

  15. imforbigblue says: Nov 4, 2012 9:58 PM

    Hes a great guy hes just not a great head football coach i wish him nothing but the best. Its time for UK to step up and hire a real football coach not some no name who will do no better than joker did. UK already seen how there losing fans and money so i think they will step up and make a good hire or take a chance of losing fans for good me being one of them if they hire a nobody

  16. puckotg22 says: Nov 4, 2012 10:05 PM

    @Deb – the reason you fire before the coach before the end of the season is to get a jump on hiring. Most schools wait until the end of the season. There are lots of coaches, some in the SEC, that are on the hot seat for firing. Possibly Tennessee coach. Maybe Auburn and Arkansas. Those all are more attractive than a UK job. So, you want to go in and get first dibs before those other schools go looking.

  17. thepftpaperchase says: Nov 4, 2012 10:12 PM

    Interesting that John Taylor uses the word “vultures” in his post. All he has to do is read the Pro side of PFT and he will notice that they have a weekly “Hot Seat” discussion of NFL coaches. I’m not saying that John is part of that, but it is a bit hypocritical, don’t you think?

  18. lbijake says: Nov 4, 2012 11:22 PM

    Are you sure that statement wasn’t written by Petrino or Saban at one of their many stays??

  19. jimbo75025 says: Nov 4, 2012 11:29 PM

    puckotg22 says:Nov 4, 2012 10:05 PM

    @Deb – the reason you fire before the coach before the end of the season is to get a jump on hiring. Most schools wait until the end of the season. There are lots of coaches, some in the SEC, that are on the hot seat for firing. Possibly Tennessee coach. Maybe Auburn and Arkansas. Those all are more attractive than a UK job. So, you want to go in and get first dibs before those other schools go looking.
    —————-
    The problem being most of the upper echelon target coaches which UK needs to target are also aware of who is on the hot seat. Chances are those same coaches are already employed as assistants somewhere or HC at a smaller program and would not interview, etc until after their season ends at which point UT and Auburn will make their decision to fire or retain pretty quickly also.

    UK can lay the groundwork now to schedule candidates for interviews, but unless they are targeting a coach who is currently unemployed they will not make much progress before seasons end. UT was able to Lane Kiffen a few years ago before the seasons end as he had already been fired by the Raiders and yes I did throw up in my mouth just a little bit in typing that name.

  20. fnc111 says: Nov 5, 2012 6:34 AM

    Not even three full seasons and fired. It’s because he is black. Racists at Kentucky.

  21. cometkazie says: Nov 5, 2012 8:51 AM

    Who said, “Nice guys finish last”?

  22. tide4life says: Nov 5, 2012 8:53 AM

    Coach Phillips is a good guy, a good coach and a class act. Can’t imagine he’ll be sidelined too long.
    Best to ya, Coach!

  23. v2the4 says: Nov 5, 2012 10:54 AM

    fnc…comeon dude..how can you say its racists that he got fired because he is black..Louisville has a top ten program right now with a BLACK COACH.

    he got fired because they werent competetive…when is the last time an sec team lost to Vandy by 40, in a shutout non the less?

    Kentucky has problems brining in a coach because of their basketball pedigree…no big name coach will want to play second fiddle, but if said coach can win 7-9 games consistently, and once every few years make a run for the conference title, thats all big blue nation is looking for

  24. Deb says: Nov 5, 2012 12:21 PM

    @puckotg22 …

    Yes, I understand your point in their thinking. But as jimbo75025 the best talent is currently employed and unavailable until the college or pro season ends. So unless you’re going after someone who doesn’t have a job–and that’s not usually the best person available–you can’t do more than make a wishlist until season’s end. So why disrupt your locker room and upset your team unnecessarily. Your first priority should be keeping your own team on track and giving your own athletes–especially your seniors–a stressfree end to their season.

  25. florida727 says: Nov 5, 2012 2:59 PM

    “fnc111″, ever consider the possibility that YOU are the racist? You do know that it works both ways, right? Was it “racist” when they hired him, you know, because back then he was black too? You’re an idiot… and that knows no color. But keep posting.

  26. crazyfootballfun says: Nov 5, 2012 6:05 PM

    Extremely classy final statement…quite an example for the rest of us, and especially for the young men coach has been working with.

  27. askbri says: Nov 5, 2012 6:15 PM

    Well spoken guy…

    Might be good coordinator. Might. But he’s absolutely a terrible head coach.

  28. puckotg22 says: Nov 5, 2012 8:46 PM

    @Deb – they are likely talking to OC’s or DC’s from other schools – in which case it’s not like yanking another schools head coach. Like Kirby Smart, Dirk Koetter and Josh McDaniels or even Jay Gruden. If anything happens – I’d bet the team grows a huge heart and wants to finish out with wins for Joker instead of growing weary and stressed and upset. I know if it were me and I respected my coach as much as they claim to – I’d play my heart out to send him out right.

    I still think it’s a good move to start now. And who’s to say that of they reach am agreement that they announce it before the end of season? They may agree as long as an announcement is withheld until the end of the season. You want to at least put feelers out there to gauge interest. Once others join in and jobs start closing – your pool is smaller. The pool is at it’s largest now. It’s only going to get smaller.

  29. hoochbcs says: Nov 5, 2012 9:06 PM

    why so serious?

  30. Deb says: Nov 5, 2012 11:32 PM

    @puckotg22 …

    But that’s just it … I don’t want anyone talking to Kirby Smart before our season ends ;)

    I’d be shocked if Josh McDaniels would consider a college gig. Jay, maybe. Jon–whose name is constantly batted around–I seriously doubt it. Koetter really needs to keep his eye on the ball right now. I don’t think they’ll go undefeated, but Atlanta may have the opportunity to make the Super Bowl. If that’s who Kentucky really wants, they’ll have to wait anyway.

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