Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

November 4, 2012

Kentucky fires football coach Joker Phillips

(Continued)

LEXINGTON —

Phillips has faced heat all season from Wildcats fans who have bombarded sports radio talk shows with calls for his firing. Barnhart has been asked repeatedly about his coach as well but responded by saying he would evaluate the program after the season as he does with all programs.

The coach handled the scrutiny by referring to his relationship with Barnhart or cracking a joke. As recently as Monday, he said, "I was coming over here (to his weekly media session), and I got in the car, and my seat was hot.

"And I looked up, and I had hit the seat warmer."

Injuries have forced Kentucky to play 26 freshmen against one of the nation's toughest schedules, but in the SEC patience tends to be short — even at Kentucky where basketball is king.

Under former coach Rich Brooks, Kentucky had established a level of respectability by going to four straight bowl games, a first for the program, from 2006-2009.

Phillips was Brooks' hand-picked successor and he made it five straight bowl trips for the Wildcats in 2010, his first season as head coach. But it's gotten worse ever since in Lexington.

"I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here," Phillips said.

"I appreciate the Big Blue Nation and encourage the fans to stay behind their team going forward."

 

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