Kentucky head football coach Joker Phillips spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday since being let go on Sunday.
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Joker Phillips said he told his staff before this season that if they could just get to next year, the wins would come. Phillips and his staff won't get that opportunity after being let go on Sunday. The Kentucky football coach spoke publicly about it for the first time on Tuesday.
"At the beginning of the year the one thing I tried to stress with our staff is let’s show improvement and get to ’13 because I thought ’13 would be the year we have an opportunity to make a huge move," Joker said to a gathering of a couple dozen or so media members.
"I thought we could show improvement this year. Then in the first three games, we showed improvements offensively. It’s hard not to notice that. I don’t care who you are, it’s hard not to notice that. We showed improvement on special teams. When we started showing improvements defensively, the injuries hit."
Joker said when he saw the poor attendance for UK's game against Vanderbilt this past Saturday, he knew it was over.
"When I walked out there in the stadium Saturday, that was enough for me. That was enough for me. I understand this. I understand it. We didn’t get the necessary results. I understand it. I’m very appreciative of Mitch (Barnhart). I’m not bitter by any means. I just appreciate the opportunity I had. I got a chance to grow up here. I got a chance to get even stronger by coming back,” Phillips said.
Fans in the stands will be important for the next coach to succeed, Joker said. He said he would continue to be a season ticket holder and urged fans to support his successor.
"When this next guy doesn’t get the results as fast as we want them, stand behind these players, the coaches. Stand behind him. I’ll stay behind him. I’ll be rooting like heck for him because if you want to get the thing done — and from what I can see they want to get this thing done, the fans — they must get behind this team. Show up in droves," Joker said.
As for what's next for Phillips, he said he will take some time away from football but that he has no clue what's next.
Phillips will coach UK's final two games of the season - Nov. 17 at 7:30 pm vs. Samford for senior day and the finale at Tennessee Nov. 24.