After the 49-7 shellacking down in Arkansas, many believed that the nail has finally been drove into the coffin of head coach Joker Phillips. I wanted to show encouragement, i wanted the man to succeed, I wanted, and still want, football to be relevant. But this is just not working, and it hasn’t worked since the retirement of Rich Brooks. Every team loses games, but not every losing team is blown out each and every week.
How far must we dig ourselves into this hole? How bad does it have to get? The football facilities at Kentucky are without a doubt, the worst in the SEC. It’s hard enough to recruit players to come to a losing program. It’s hard enough to convince these recruits we are taking steps in the right direction when the facilities are not on par with the other schools that recruit has already seen.
If anyone believed that head coach Joker Phillips has or is going to change Kentucky football, the first game of the season against Louisville should have been an alarming wake up call. It was the same Joker Phillips, doing the same schemes, and providing the same results. Phillips has a very businessman-like approach to every facet in the game. He’s the same guy in the pregame interviews as he is during the game and in postgame. Let’s compare that to Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Saban took some heat for verbally attacking his backup QB during a game last year because of a bad play. They said he was too hard on the guy, and the verbal lashing was not called for in the blowout game. What was Saban really doing? He was showing some fire. You never see Phillips have many other emotions besides his blank stare. If you don’t provide fire in your demeanor, it’s next to impossible to get it to translate to your players. Saban’s tactic was to teach up the young QB and make sure he never made that mistake again. That backup QB he was teaching is now the starter for the Crimson Tide. Phillips is a terrific x’s and o’s guy, but he cannot translate effectively to his players.
How is this all fixed? Contrary to belief, a coaching change is only a small step in the right direction. Changing coaches will not upgrade those facilities. Changing coaches will not bring back interest in high school athletes to choose Kentucky over another SEC program. You have to have a strong inner circle around a dynamic coach. The coach has to be the ultimate salesman, and then let his playmakers make plays. The administration has to broaden their view that Kentucky can thrive in basketball and football. Success on the court and on the field at the same time are very possible. The coaches, the strong inner circle of support, and the administration have to support each other through the hurdles to recovery. Nothing will be easy, but a win over an SEC opponent or someone not named Kent State will help. This could be a long 4 to 5 year progress before the Wildcats become a .500 team again. How do we attract any coach that has to step into this position? No matter how much money you throw at a guy, the football coaching job at Kentucky is seemingly career suicide without support from the administration.
With all that being said, I firmly believe that Joker Phillips should not be the head coach at Kentucky come season’s end. I believe this program can be fixed, but there is a lot of parties that have to do some soul searching to get things right. The process to recovery will be a long and daunting one for any program, especially one in the SEC. With the constant barrage of superior programs hovering over you, how can you break through? A gargantuan effort is among UK football fans, but the power of the BBN is the strongest ally to an ailing program. I just wish someone would tell me how they are going to handle things differently. I’m looking at you Mitch Barnhart.
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: Writer for StraitCats.com, lifelong UK fan, college sports enthusiast. Twitter: BrianLewis_SP