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Joker Phillips Fired at Kentucky

joker phillips fired

Joker Phillips fired as Kentucky’s head football coach.

The predictable news out of Lexington: Joker Phillips fired as Kentucky head coach. Athletic director Mitch Barnhardt made the announcement via an open letter he penned to the Wildcat Nation which appeared on the ukathletics.com website. Barnhardt’s heartfelt letter praised Phillips time and time again — the 10-year friendship between the athletic director and head coach plainly evident. But their personal relationship wasn’t nearly enough to save Phillips’ job.

Why was Joker Phillips fired?

Phillips had things going in Lexington. The problem was, they were going the wrong way. In his first season, Phillips guided the Cats to a 6-6 regular season record, good enough to be invited to the BBVA Compass bowl, where they lost to Pittsburgh. The following season saw Kentucky finish a disappointing 5-7, though Phillips’ club did end on a high note by defeating Tennessee 10-7 — their first win over the Vols since 1984.

The nail in the coffin

But this year has been an abject train wreck. The Wildcats are just 1-9, their sole victory coming over Kent State. Saturday, they were clobbered at home by Vanderbilt, losing the contest by a score of 40 – 0 in front of a crowd that wouldn’t have even filled up Rupp Arena. (Clay Travis put it at 19,000.)

How it compares to the situation here

Two things stand out to this Vol fan. First, this is Joker’s third year. This is significant in that many in town believe that all our embattled head coach needs is more time to right the ship. But three years is apparently long enough for Barnhardt and company to feel as if they’d seen enough. Less than three years, in fact.

The second is Phillip’s buyout. It’s 2.55 million, a bit of an easier pill to swallow than Dooley’s buyout. Or is it?

It depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, sure, it’s an easier pill to swallow — Phillip’s buyout is 51 percent of Dooley’s. But given the disparity between the revenue stream of the two schools’ football programs? I bet the proportionality is about the same.

Regardless — not much to glean as it pertains to Tennessee. While most believe that a coaching change looms in the Vols’ not-so-distant future, there’s still a lot that could happen. And through those happenings, I have a feeling that the Dooley decision will make itself. That’s usually the way these things work out.

Just ask Joker Phillips.

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