Kentucky football players react to the firing of their coach.
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky's players said it was a somber scene when they gathered for an early meeting on Sunday to hear their head coach, Joker Phillips, say he would not be returning next season.
Phillips was fired on Sunday and a few of his players talked to the media for the first time since the news.
"It was a tender moment for everyone. It's not something that we all wanted to see happen," redshirt freshman offensive lineman Zach West said. "Coach Phillips, we know how much everything means to him, and he means a lot to this whole team, a lot more than what a lot of people think."
Junior linebacker Avery Williamson echoed West's sentiment, "He's like a father figure up here for me. So, it's a sad feeling."
West, who played at Lexington Christian Academy, saw that quality in his head coach as well, "He's kind of our dad away from home for a lot of people. A lot of guys don't get to go home real often and he's that person that's there for everybody. If you need a problem (solved), you always go to coach Phillips. That's something that everybody's going to lose."
Senior center Matt Smith from Louisville said that he didn't want to believe it had happened. "Of course you want to see a guy like that a guy that I know like on a personal level like that that loves this place so much you know I would love to see him stay here obviously but it's not up to me," Smith said.