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Phillips Out As Coach At Kentucky After Season

Joker Phillips will not return as Kentucky’s football coach after the season.

The school announced that Phillips, who has compiled a 12-23 record since becoming Kentucky’s head coach in 2010, will coach the Wildcats against Samford and Tennessee to finish the season.

Phillips expressed an understanding of the school’s decision in a statement he released on Sunday.

“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 Barnart 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.”

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, who said the search for Phillips’ replacement will begin immediately, thanked Phillips for his time with the Wildcats.

“After much conversation, evaluation and prayer, I have determined that it is in the best interest of our athletics program to make a change in our football coaching staff at the conclusion of the season. I do so with a heavy heart for a man who has served his alma mater for almost 22 years as a player and a coach. Joker Phillips has carried the banner for the Blue and White with honor and pride. I have enjoyed working alongside him and am thankful for his friendship for the last decade. His concern for the entire program, his work and teaching of young people, his humanitarian work, and the friendship we all enjoy with him will long surpass the scoreboard. I want to thank him for all of those things on behalf of Kentucky.”

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More Questions For UT Now That Hamilton Is Out

With Mike Hamilton’s resignation come a number of questions for Tennessee’s athletic department:

* Will Tennessee try to heal rifts in its fanbase by chasing a UT grad?  Former coach Phillip Fulmer has told people in Knoxville that he would be interested in Hamilton’s job, but those closest to the man believe he only wants to be wanted and would not accept the post if offered.  Ironically, chasing Fulmer might only split the fanbase — and athletic department — further as many in the UT community felt it was time for Fulmer to go in 2008.

* Hamilton landed the UT job in 2003 as an internal, fall-back candidate.  At the time, the school was going through turmoil at the presidential level.  With the likelihood of NCAA probation now hanging over the program — and another new president at the helm — will Tennessee be a better draw this time around?

* Might Tennessee make a run at UT graduate and senior vice president with IMG Mark Dyer?  Dyer’s background as a businessman — success at Host Communications, NASCAR, and now IMG — in sports-related fields should make him an attractive candidate — if he is a candidate — to the powers-that-be in Knoxville. 

* Would Tennessee try to make a run at Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart?  (Some UK fans just cheered that notion.) Barnhart was recently given a raise and extension by outgoing UK president Lee Todd.  Would he have any interest — or the contractual opportunity — to speak with Tennessee?  Barnhart was UT’s senior associate athletic director in 1998 and had spent 12 years in Knoxville at the time of his departure.

* Derek Dooley and Cuonzo Martin likely knew when they came onboard at Tennessee that Hamilton’s job was in peril.  Now they will have to work for a new boss.  That’s never a comfortable spot for a coach to find himself in.  What does an AD change mean for the futures of UT’s new coaches?

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UK brass gets cozy as Cats ready for first Maui game

Content provided by Jerry Tipton on UK basketball.

UK’s brass just entered the Lahaina Civic Center and sat in front-row seats along an end line. The brass were UK president Lee Todd and his wife, Patsy, Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart and his wife, John Calipari’s wife, Ellen, and their son Bradley.

Todd and Barnhart sat side by side with their wives on the outisde of the foursome.

Todd went for the the casual chic look with long white pants (after Labor Day!!) and running shoes.


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