Joker Phillips is a Kentucky Wildcat through and through.
As a player, he played from 1981-1984 under Frank Curci and Jerry Claiborne. He was on one of the most successful teams in Kentucky history, a team that went 9-3 and finished the season ranked nineteenth in the AP and won a bowl game.
As a coach, Joker started out as a grad assistant and eventually became the offensive coordinator under RIch Brooks from 2005-2009. This was the most successful stretch in Kentucky football history as the Wildcats made it to four straight bowl games with Brooks as the head coach.
Phillips was named coach-in-waiting and he took over the mantle when Rich Brooks decided to hang it up. Brooks left Phillips with a successful program that took years to rebuild. Phillips made it to a fifth straight bowl game his first season, but things didn’t look the same. The team got worse as the season progressed and it was capped off by a loss to a coach-less Pittsburgh team in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
From there it, things took a downward spiral and never recovered with him as head coach. Recruiting continues to get worse. The records continued to get worse. Fan attendance continued to get worse.
In his final season at UK, the Wildcats went 2-10 (0-8 SEC) and hit rock bottom with a home loss to Vanderbilt, 40-0.
Now Joker is wide receivers coach for the Cincinnati Bearcats and he was asked about his time as head coach at Kentucky:
I wonder if Joker Phillips truly believes he didn't have enough time to build a successful program at UK. pic.twitter.com/BzZxAhsofG— Derek Terry (@DerekSTerry) August 14, 2017
There is nothing particularly galling about Joker’s statement, but the idea that he wasn’t given enough time to implement his system is ridiculous. He had been the OC at UK for four years and it was a seamless transition from Brooks to Phillips.
It wasn’t like this was a new regime coming in and changing everything. Phillips new the players, he had recruited in the SEC, and the offense was HIS offense even with Randy Sanders calling the plays.
If Phillips had been given more time the ‘Cats may be playing in Conference USA right now.