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Joker makes a statement


Somewhere between Colt McCoy getting blasted in the BCS Championship Game and a massive political nerd fight breaking out on this very site, news broke that Joker Phillips’ first-year staff became two people lighter with the release of Jimmy Heggins and Rick Petri.  The move seemed sudden and surprising as both guys are respected throughout football as being among the best position coaches in the country, with Petri even being named as a coach of the year finalist as recently as last season (he lost to this guy and his awesome name), and neither unit really lacking from a production or a development standpoint.  From afar, you could argue that no two coaches on the staff were more secure. 

But, there’s a new sheriff in town.  And that new sheriff is, as he stated several times in his press conference, putting a more intense focus on recruiting.  While there have been rumors of personality conflicts between Joker and Heggins (which may or may not be true), the lack of recruiting production being brought to the table by the line coaches is what will be cited as their cause for firing.  What is completely undeniable, though, is that Joker Phillips might have been introduced on Wednesday, but the Joker Phillips Era officially started on Thursday and we got our first glimpse into what exactly it will hold.  HINT:  Not Rick Petri of Jimmy Heggins.

Under Rich Brooks, Kentucky found success in retaining the bulk of in-state talent and picking off three-star (and two-star) guys from Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Ohio, etc. who would come to campus and be slowly developed under a group of experienced, formerly high-profile cast-offs (Randy Sanders, Heggins, Petri).  This season, the recruiting part of that strategy changed a bit as Brooks took a new approach of targeting more high-ranking high schoolers and waiting to the bloody end for their commitment.  You can be the judge of how that worked (but not until they all use their eligibility).  In hindsight, and especially given this change, you have to assume we got a glimpse into the Joker Phillips recruiting strategy and we can make our assumptions of who met their expectations and who didn’t. 

In the end, it’s hard to say that Heggins and Petri didn’t do a good job here.  There’s no question that they both had a large hand in the success of the program the last few years and there are going to be some former (and probably current too) players upset about the change.  But, at the same time, you can’t blame Joker for pulling the trigger either.  Joker Phillips just got handed his dream job with the expectations that he improve the program rather than just maintain its current level and is on a leash that’s probably a lot shorter than anyone wants to actually acknowledge.  He might not know much about being a head coach yet, but the man does know recruiting.  If he says he needs more than what Petri and Heggins bring to the table (especially with Charlie Strong in the state now), then I’ll take his word for it.  After all, he’s made he very clear that he’s the guy in charge now.

Article written by Thomas Beisner

80 responses to “Joker makes a statement”

  1. Wondering Fan

    im not surprised at all. every new head coach regardless of sport likes to bring new assistants in.. and he wants to take this program to the next level.. well this is a start. he wants better recruiters.

  2. Bimbo

    Uh, Where is his statement ??

  3. new coach

    Ty scroggins

  4. Wondering Fan

    2. that is the statement. he is a man. he is not afraid to let people go.. he is taking control right off the bat and that IS a statement.

  5. Flamboyant Eric Embry

    Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the next coaching change is Joker removing himself from play calling duties. Steve Brown wouldn’t be a bad place to start either.

  6. Steve Ortmayer

    When do I get canned? Special teams and tightends have dropped off significantly in the last couple of seasons. Special teams consistently had kicks blocked seemingly week in and week out.

  7. Chad M.

    Well this move is gonna put Outside The Lines in a pickle.

  8. Wondering Fan

    5. are you STUPID?> THE PLAY calling has been spectacular.. considering our player personnel.. we never play above our talent level, and we manage games as efficiently as we can with the talent we have.

  9. The Bromley Abides

    As long as he hangs on to Sanders I’m happy.

  10. swampbreath

    8. just rediculous! we lost the s.carolina and tenn. game because of horrible play calling. you must either be blind, or jokers best friend. when the game is on the line, you ALWAYS put the ball in the hands of your best player. cobb needed the ball in both games, and didnt get it

  11. jman3715

    Yeah but what about global warming?

  12. Wondering Fan

    10. s carolina BLAME defense and the fact that hartline got hurt. dont blame joker.. and for tennessee, that was ONE time in 7 years. get over yourself. this team has run about a good of an offense as we could with our talent level. we do NOT have the talent to go all out explosive offense. we just dont. be realistic. i love the offensive play calling. reserved and efficient for our personnel.

  13. andy katz isnt walking thru that door

    how about one of you photoshop gurus put together a picture of joker phillips like the one of obama as the heath ledger joker…. this one … nothing political .. just because his name is joker

  14. John Wall Dancin in Tunnel

    I agree that Ty Scroggins will be coming to the staff….soon!

  15. Anonymous

    Cobb wasn’t in the game at the end of the tennessee game because he was on the sideline getting an IV.

  16. RockBottom

    Hmm… Not sure how quality line coaches with a record of developing players hurts recruiting, but I guess we need to give Joker the benefit of the doubt and see how things develop.


    When will Joke get rid of the true deadweight on the football staff and fire himself?

  18. Blueyouaway

    15 Cobb was lined up at receiver last play of the game. That must have been one long IV line… If he can run a route, he can take a snap & run/pass.

  19. Flamboyant Eric Embry

    8. You ask me if I’m stupid and then proceed to say that the play calling this year was spectacular. Wow! You just can’t make this stuff up.

  20. DoubleDynasty10

    8.. did u even attend a game this season?… Miss State, bad play calling… 1st and Goal at the 4 to take the lead and Cobb (our best player) didnt touch the ball one time…South Carolina, bad play calling…South Carolina game even Steve Spurrier said he was thinkful they Didnt give the ball to COBB. Tennessee, bad play calling..Drove the ball all the way down the field on a day when nothig was going right with Cobb.. who do we go to in crunch time… a freshman on qb keeper.. the excuse, derrick Locke missed a block. Well Deriick Locke would miss a block on a ALL SEC LINEBACKER that is twice as big as him!!! 3 losses simply because of bad play calling.. win those 3 and we are in the Capital one Bowl. I understand the talet we have, but you have to put your players in a position to win.. Our coaching staff didnt do that on many occasions

  21. DoubleDynasty10

    I really wish they would put the passwords back on.. so all the idiots would have to identify who they are.. that way you could recognize the name and just overlook the pure foolishness

  22. Blueyouaway

    8 You’re screen name is very appropriate. I am “wondering” about what games you watched this year. Please provide a Top 10 list of spectacular play calls . (and if you can’t use “Bubble Screen”, I bet you can’t name 3)

  23. bigdickdaddyfromcincinatti

    time for the dogs to meet the great wall.. Welcome to the SEC

  24. Wall to Wall!!!

    Do you fools even know anything about football..

  25. Wall to Wall!!!

    Actually that was a rather broad statement when I should have just directed it towards 5 and 8…Both of the two made ridiculous statements

  26. political hijack

    My Dog,
    * My dog sleeps about 20 hours a day.
    * He has his food prepared for him.
    * He can eat whenever he wants, 24/7/365.
    * His meals are provided at no cost to him.
    * He visits the Dr. Once a year for his checkup, and again during the year if any medical needs arise.
    * For this He pays nothing, and nothing is required of him.
    * He lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is much larger than He needs, but He is not required to do any upkeep.
    * If He makes a mess, someone else cleans it up.
    * He has his choice of luxurious places to sleep.
    * He receives these accommodations absolutely free.
    * He is living like a king, and has absolutely no expenses whatsoever.
    * All of his costs are picked up by others who go out and earn a living every day.
    I was just thinking about all this, and suddenly it hit me like a brick in the head,

    Damn, my dog is a democrat!

  27. DoubleDynasty10

    Yes the season went better than we expected.. because when given the chance our players performed… Just think if they had been given the chance everygame.. and not had it taken away from their own coaches who I will quote again Steve Spurrier said he was thankful they didnt give it to Cobb because “WE HAD NO ANSWER FOR HIM.”

  28. JDoubleScoop

    20 Locke put out zero effort on his block. Don’t make excuses for him. He could not have blocked the guy any worse than what he attempted.

  29. OneAndDone

    25) I bet the D and O line coaches do a whole lot of play calling….just sayin

  30. Mudcat

    This team overachieved in my opinion, but that being said there are what if’s on the play calling. Joker should have put the ball in Cobb’s hands in the two games mentioned…point blank. Joker blew it! It could have been a a very special season for a team that wasn’t supposed to do much.

  31. ebell55

    I think Joker will get the job done! However, we just lost two good coaches with proven track records.You never know if they wanted to leave.


    i want Joke to leave.

  33. Wondering Fan

    i have had season tickets for 11 straight years… do NOT question my knowledge on uk

  34. dennis

    No fan of Joker. No fan of his play calling. Not optimistic of next season. What it is, is what it is. Hope Joker is MUCH better than I think and is a great success. UK needs a break in the football world and we got Joker. Good luck next year.

  35. Wall to Wall!!!

    I’m excited about the prospects of Joker taken the lead now…Young energetic knowledgeable coach msy bring in some new kids that probably wouldn’t have even gave us a look under papa brooks…Brooks took us about as far as he could and I’m so thankful he has restored this program…I do think Joker needs to turn the play calling duties over to Sanders cause you know he knows how to break down a defense…And he just has to much of a pedigree to just be a QB coach…I would hate to lose him

  36. jokersajoke

    Whats is matter, all the coaches will be out of jobs in a few years anyways after Joker tanks what Papaw has done to build up this program.

  37. Cutler's eyebrows

    30 – your dog is on welfare, he’s not a Democrat, he’s just a bum. So he votes Democrat, but he’ll vote for whomever keeps giving him everything. Which happens to be the Democrats.

  38. SeoulCat

    The play calling was horrendous–especially in crunch time–which was blatantly obvious to even the most casual observer. Period. My dad is a retired former D-1 asst. coach (and while that doesn’t make him omniscient when it comes to all things pigskin, it probably does mean that he has more coaching acumen and football knowledge in his little pinky than all of us–those posting on here–combined) and said he was absolutely horrified by the playcalling this season. Joker might (or might not) be a good man for the lead role, but he better surround himself with guys who know how to run an offense better than what we saw this season.
    And #25, I was fully expecting eight wins this year, so no, I wouldn’t have been happy if you had told me that we’d barely break .500 at 7-6 with a bowl loss to an overrated Clemson squad.

  39. What?

    How dare you call you dog a democrate!

  40. What?

    Would Joker fire these guys without any replacements in mind? Would it be possible to find some guys with recruiting connections to florida or texas?

  41. meeksuperfan

    the offense was limited by personel but we had the ball inside the 10 in the closing moments and played for the tie.we hadnt won in 25 years,go for the troat when you have the chance.

  42. Cat Fan

    I would not be surprised if we saw Steve Perdue (Head Coach at LaGrange High School, GA) involved somehow with new hiring. Perdue is from Hopkinsville and has been rumored and asked several time to join the staff. It could be a good hire.

  43. catmandoo

    no one has mentioned now that the state of KY, of all places, has two black football coaches.

  44. Bell Countian in Louisville

    It’s hard to believe that Joker will be able to find a coach more capable and with the track record that Heggins had. Not seeing eye to eye has to be the reasoning behind it. Regardless of his recruiting efforts, the line since Heggins came to UK has been on another level. The D-Line with Petri has been pretty good too, although they have gotten run all over from time to time and have had some outstanding players. I can see the Petri dismissal a lot more than Heggins. Do we think Joker brings in his own offensive coordinator, or does he do the logical thing in order to keep Sanders on staff and make him the OC? I honestly thought Ortmayer or Brown would be the first to go under Joker, but I hear that Brown can go get it when it comes to recruiting as well. It will be interesting seeing how the staff turns out when all is said and done, especially with changes like this coming so quickly.

  45. TulsaCat

    Any rumor that John Blake would come to the true blue? He’s a phenomenal recruiter.

  46. Joe

    47, that’s because it has three. Willie Taggart at WKU is the third. I know WKU may not play like they’re 1-A, but they are now.

  47. Cutler's eyebrows

    Will this be the first time UL/UK met with brand new coaches on the sidelines?

  48. mattearley

    seems odd to me to fire 2 guys whose units were top performers this year.

    joker, what up?

  49. CalGetsIt

    Plain and simple, players win games. If the roster is full of 2 and 3 star players 6-8 wins a years can be expected. Pull in bigger stars and play calling becomes amazingly easier. That being said O-line and D-line have been mos productive position over the last three years, I hope Joker has made the right call.

  50. Santa Kige

    Remember, I’m watching over all of you. Be good!

  51. randy sanders

    i’m already the offensive coordinator…joker was “head coach of the offense”…i helped with offensive gameplans

  52. Scudder

    It’s Joker’s tem, and his program. He’s allowed to staff it as he sees fit. Period. Just because Joker was already head coach in waiting doesn’t mean there sholdn’t be any turnover or change from the Brooks administration.

    This IS an actual head coaching change.

  53. Loveyouguys

    I am sick and tired of hearing about how we did not get the ball in Cobbs hands at the ends of games. I agree that running Newton around the corner on a bootleg isnt the best call in the world, but what most of you dont realize is that football takes 11 players. So Locke missed a block for Newton, does he make that block for Cobb? Cobb cant get himself in the endzone without the help of his team. Play calling is scripted, very strategic. Certain plays for certain situations. I have disagreed with Jokers playcalling just as much as anyone else, but in the end..he got paid to call plays. I think we can all agree that he is passionate about what he does, so I cant help but think he didnt put everything he had in to being strategic with play calling. I love UK with all my heart but sometimes I get sick of tired of all the negativity that our fanbase has. Takes away from what we are attempting, in the best way we can, to be a successful football program in the toughest conference in the nation.

  54. uksocal

    41- Wasn’t that Mitch McConnell’s re-election platform, but y’all voted him in.

  55. Susan

    I remember a tweet from an O-line player when Heggins was a finalist for an award…it was very scarcastic, like Heggins is getting credit for something he had nothing to do with. Wish I could remember more, but it was around the first week of December.

  56. Laker Cat 18

    37. 4th & 1. Shotgun formation with Newton at QB. Game on the line. You care to explain that to me? You’ve got a 240 lb fullback or sneak it with a 220 lb QB. I like Joker and I hope he succeeds, but you can’t honestly say you’ve been a season ticket holder the past 11 seasons and you’ve seen absolutely no play calls that you haven’t questioned at least once.

  57. 240 lb fullback

    61- i was hurt on fourth and 1, thats why locke was the lead block, which probably should have been turtle

  58. Cuz Cousins

    I like the fact that he is taking charge, making moves, being aggressive, and not slow playing it. It’s his team, and he just announced it loudly. Now it’s time to recruit!

  59. say saying said

    we know the real reason that some of you don’t like joker… he is republican

  60. cconleyjr

    I’m all for Joker and will support him to the best of my abilites and hope he succeeds.However if he doesn’t I hope Mitch Barnhart and Dr. Todd man up. By that I mean I hope they make the same commitment to football that they did to basketball and go out and hire the best coach available regardless of cost. Really does a good coach cost anything? Football income would go way up with a proven winner. A coach that turns out bad can cost alot more in the long run. I’m glad Joker is getting this chance though. Not everyone gets a shot at their dream job. GO JOKER and GO CATS.

  61. UKfanNKY

    #58 VERY WELL WRITTEN I couldn’t agree with you more!!!! It’s time for the BIG BLUE NATION to step up and get behind the Coaches and Players!!!! GO CATS!!!!!! PS….would you please send your post to our Media friends!!
    GO CATS!!!

  62. Laker Cat 18

    62. Screw personnel. Get under center and run over people. More likely to gain 1 yard under center opposed to shotgun formation.

  63. Hot Uk Girl (real one)

    Joker is making a statement… a fashion statement, with that hat! I think his new nickname should be Pope Joker-Phillips I. (Or maybe we should just let Boogie & Bledsoe give him a nickname.)

  64. bhtxcatfan

    #30, that was classic.

  65. Santa Kige

    Hating on your new football coach who hasn’t coached a game yet as the head man will get you on the naughty list. No more YouTube Sports videos for you!!

  66. hindsight coach

    67- you can’t change your argument after the first one doesn’t work…

  67. secretagent0014

    58 so you think we should have the smallest guy on the field making the crucial block on the last play of the game.

  68. GummyBear

    Besides, the head coach has the power to overrule any play call. So, the play calling last year, ultimately falls on Brooks, yet the same people that want Brooks to stay, don’t want Phillips. I was mad on those same instances this year, but I’m not going to pre-determine Joker has a failure. He deserves his chance and our support for now. Wait until he’s coached a game before you say he can’t coach.

  69. Loveyouguys

    72. No I dont think having the smallest guy on the field making a “crucial” block on the last play of the game is the best call. You are basically calling me an idiot for making that statment, which I find amusing. But I’d like to see you, or any other “coach in the stands” (as Cal puts it) call the plays. I also find it amusing how the fans will listen to Cal and worhip him for what he says but yet are quick to fire at Joker for, in my opinion, is one of the toughest jobs in all of sports.

  70. Laker Cat 18

    71. Not an argument at all. You going to answer my question or not? Explain that play call? That’s what I thought.

  71. WildcatDJ

    58) “Cobb cant get himself in the endzone without the help of his team.”


    Newton can’t without perfect execution, Cobb can without perfect execution (missed blocks). No brainer who you use on that last play.

    That said, I’m ecstatic Joker is the head man. It’s natural to become more conservative as you age and Brooks is no different. We won’t be the air-raid all of the sudden, but we’ll be more fun to watch and be more aggressive.

  72. UKfanNKY

    #62……Your friends from Northern KY. Ya know your neighbors Son. When do you head to Jville??? Good luck and we will miss you next yr. stay in touch. GO CATS!!!!

  73. confucious

    don’t argue with an idiot…people from a distance can’t tell the difference

  74. jbmet

    After our 4 and 8 season next year, I imagine Joker will be letting some more coacher go…

  75. Loveyouguys

    Go ask Cobb if he can get in the endzone without the help of his teammates. Cobb CANNOT get himself in the endzone without help, otherwise, why do lineman play?

    To play in to your point, If you line Cobb and Newton up and ask them to run the same play 10 times, its a gaurentee that Cobb will do better than Newton. But thats not taking in to consideration game situations. My point is simply that play calling is complex and sure, coaches make mistakes. Im just sick and tired of fans who want to find a scape goat and have something or someone to point a finger towards.

    Joker has all my support. I cant think of anyone who feels more passion than he does for this job.

  76. Catfan110

    73. I agree. I am not for the Joker hire, or Brooks staying, for that matter. But, let’s get behind him and give Joker a chance at least. We can criticize in November.

  77. Catfan110

    and I forgot. NERD FIGHT!!!!!

  78. Blueyouaway

    37 …and Billy Gillispie was a Head Coach for 5 years before destroying UK in 2 years. Sitting in a seat for 11 years doesn’t mean anything about your Football knowledge.

    I never did see your list of SPECTACULAR playcalls this year….

  79. An ol' coach

    Anyone who has coached football knows how difficult it can be with a 1st year QB. There are many things besides talent that factor into whether or not he is effective such as how similar was his previous system, the terminology, his level of confidence, but probably the most important is how motivated he is and how many hours he’s willing to plant his fanny in the film room to prepare himself.

    I don’t know Newton and how he fits into any of the above, but I do know even if we was fairly motivated he’d only had time to grasp a small part of the play book. And that doesn’t even take into consideration that he had already given up on playing this year as we had been hung with a red-shirt.

    So my guess is Joker went with talent over who was prepared (Fidler) and rolled the dice knowing full well he’d only have about 10% of the playbook in the beginning and hoping he could catch up quickly. I imagine that had a huge effect on his play calling, so I’l give him a pass and I look forward to a better season next year.