Well, it’s officially over; the Joker Phillips Era at Kentucky has come to a close under much contention. Quite possibly the most controversial football coach in the history of the big blue nation’s pigskin program Phillips had a great deal of pressure put on him after taking the reins of the team over after a successful stint with Rich Brooks in 2010.
Prior to that, Phillips has worked as an assistant coach in varying facets for the Wildcats since 2003. The Franklin, Kentucky born Phillips was a star at Kentucky in the early ‘80’s but that didn’t translate to coaching supremacy despite having an understanding of the school’s history and program.
As a wide receiver out of college Phillips played in the NFL for two seasons with the Washington Redskins- in the ’85 season and the ’87 season, in ’86 he suited up in the Canadian Football League with the Toronto Argonauts.
After playing Phillips worked as an assistant or head coach at Kentucky, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Notre Dame, and South Carolina.
However, with a resume that was quite impressive the coach struggled while leading the Cats during his tenure.
Rather than harshly critique Phillips time at Kentucky though, I’d like to take just a brief time to discuss some of his accomplishments as head coach. Now, I know many Cats fans will tell me that he didn’t produce results that were anywhere near strong enough, and they probably have a good point. However, the Phillips era has been bookmarked with several notable accolades.
Louisville vs. Kentucky- Louisville, KY- September 4th
Phillips’ first game as head coach proved to be a strong one, as Kentucky defeated rival Louisville in the Governor’s Cup with a final score of 23-16.
Compass Bowl- Birmingham, AL
Despite losing to the Pittsburgh Panthers 27-10, the Cats earned a respectable bowl bid and played with heart throughout the course of the game.
Randall Cobb proved to be a tremendous accolade on his own for the Cats, and is probably the player best representative of Phillips’ victories as head coach, today the wide receiver is a star in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers
Tennessee vs. Kentucky- Lexington, KY- November 24th
Kentucky’s final game of the season proved to put a bit of an explanation point on the season as Kentucky defeated rival Tennessee 10-7
Looking at Phillips’ end, there’s been plenty of speculation about who his replacement will be. Despite certain members of Kentucky’s hiring staff saying they would not offer the job to former Louisville and Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino his name is still on many people’s lips. In addition, speculation has surrounded former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, all though this might be a long shot for desperate Cat fans who would love that pro experience. Some have batted around a return of Rich Brooks, others say former Kentucky wide-out Neal Brown, then some have suggested Louisiana Teach coach Sonny Dykes, then you have current Cincinnati coach Butch Jones, Atlanta Falcon’s offensive coordinator Dick Koetter, Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggert, and that’s just naming a few.
I don’t know, who’ll be wearing Wildcat Blue come next season starting a new era but first the Cats are looking to close this chapter.
Image courtesy of Kentucky Sports Radio