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10 Questions About the End of One Era and Beginning of Another


For a little over a week now, I have known that the likelihood of Joker begin replaced today was high. But that doesn’t mean that the final announcement of the news was not sad to hear. Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium was the lowest moment of a pretty difficult three years and was the final nail in a coaching coffin that had been pieced together consistently since the BBVA Compass Bowl two years ago. I have spent the better part of the afternoon and evening (outside of the two hours at the UK-Transy Dinner) on the phone getting information. With that in mind, here are 10 Common Questions about the UK Football Coaching Situation with my best attempt at answers to them:

1. When Was the Decision About Joker Phillips Made?

Anyone who has followed UK football this season knew that the ground was shaky following the loss to Western Kentucky in the third week of the season. However, I do believe that Mitch Barnhart wanted to find a way to give Joker another year, a year in which most around the program believe the young players can develop to help the team take a leap forward. But beginning with the loss at Arkansas, that position became much less tenable. While the blowout in Fayetteville led many around the program to begin accepting the reality that Joker’s time could be coming to an end, I don’t believe Mitch Barnhart was ready to make the call until after the game in Columbia. The performance there was sloppy, the team looked ill-prepared and a possible win turned into a blowout loss against a bad team. I advocated the announcement should occur on that Monday, as I believed the final decision to terminate had been made last Sunday. But it was held off until the Vandy game and after the 40-0 loss in an empty stadium, Barnhart became convinced it had to occur today.

2. Will Joker Phillips Coach the Last Two Games?

I am told that the initial thought was no, as Joker Phillips believed his presence could be a distraction to the players. But the outpouring of kind sentiments expressed by UK fans towards Joker since the announcement, might change this before the game in two weeks. Practice kicks back off on Tuesday, so Joker Phillips will make his decision by tomorrow. Those around the program hope he will stay and that the #PackCommonwealth movement can lead to a better final moment for Joker and the Seniors than occurred against Vandy. But we won’t know for sure until tomorrow.

3. What is the First Step for the Hiring Process?

From what I am told, the first step is what I could call “figuring out your options.” Over the next week, those in charge of the search will begin figuring out what individuals are realistic targets and the order in which they will be approached. Barnhart has previously said that he always keeps a top 5 list of coaching candidates for all jobs and it is certainly the case that he knows many directions he wants to go in. I am told that the search is being kept internal, but that viewpoints are being looked at from people outside the program and in the greater UK football family. The final decision maker will be Barnhart, with a final check from Eli Capilouto, but I expect more people to be called upon to voice their opinion than may have been the case in the past.

4. Should we Listen to the Leaked Names that Come out?

This is a difficult question, and it depends on what you are using the leaked names for. Because I believe a number of people may have their opinions asked for, those same people will likely leak the names of the people they suggested…but that doesn’t mean the person is a real candidate. I put zero stock for instance in the Pat Forde “coaching list” (does anyone really believe that Forde, who is HATED by those in the UK sports administration, would have any source that is truly in a decision-making role?) and most such lists will have more to do with who is talking than the real decision being made. But with that said, I think a lot of the names being bandied about are real names that will be considered.

5. Will Mitch Go for a “Home Run” hire?

I think the answer to this question is certainly yes. I am told from a number of close sources that Barnhart sees this as a “make or break” moment for the UK football program and wants to swing for the fences. Now just because he wants a big name, doesn’t mean that UK can get one, but Barnhart will try for names that on the surface seem WAY out of UK’s league. As one source told me, “I think it is time for a high risk, high reward kind of hire and that is what we may see.” Part of what the next two weeks will be about is figuring out if any of the huge names that seem out of reach, could theoretically be in reach…and then trying to go down that path. Between now and Samford, this is where the primary emphasis will be.

6. Will Bobby Petrino be Considered?

From all of my conversations, the answer to this question seems to be no. Barnhart won’t eliminate Petrino completely, but he won’t be among the first or second tier group of guys considered. My guess is that if the search goes amok and they are not able to find a coach that they feel confident can inject passion into the program, Petrino could be a final option…but I don’t believe he will be considered early in the process or that he is anything close to a high priority.

7. Will UK Spend Money on a Big Name Coach?

Mitch Barnhart addressed this on my show last summer, but I had three people all verify it for me again today. If the right coach is out there, “money will not be an issue.” I am told that the University won’t just spend a ton of money on a coach just to do it, but if they feel they can hire a coach who is worth it, they could make him one of the highest paid coaches in the game.

8. So Who Are “Big Name” Candidates for the Job?

The answer to this question is both easy and hard. On the easy side, I legitimately think that Barnhart will be talking to coaches that we all believe have ZERO chance of coming here. Thus virtually all “big names” will be theoretical candidates. But which “big names” might actually consider the job? That is what the next few weeks of exploring are about. I am told however that three big names that are on the radar and that UK believes would consider the job are Kirby Smart, Rex Ryan and Mike Leach. I have doubts about the first two truly being interested and the third being someone Mitch Barnhart would hire in the end, but I think they are all being considered. But I am also certain that there are big names we don’t know about being called and inquired about…and over time, one or two of those names may come out.

9. If Not a “Big Name,” Then Who?

This is the 64,000 question and if we are being honest about it, the likely group of candidates where a coach will be found. I am told that the “high risk, high reward” philosophy is gaining steam among those around the process and that the idea of hiring a coach with “experience in the SEC” or as I like to call them, “a retread” is diminishing in possibility. I continue to hear that Sonny Dykes is the favorite of those around the program and if I were a betting man, I would put him as the early favorite for the job. But his odds are still high, due to the amount of names still being considered. San Jose State Coach Mike MacIntyre is another such name that Mitch Barnhart also has some interest in as well. David Cutcliffe will likely get an interview, but I see as more of a second-tier, last resort type of candidate. As one source told me tonight, “if Mitch can’t get a big name, or the young guys he really likes (such as Dykes), then I think he interviews a ton of young college and NFL minds and looks for the one who can inject excitement and new energy into the program while trying to make a name for himself.” I like that philosophy.

10. What is the time frame for a hire?

I don’t expect the hire to occur immediately, but it also will not linger. UK understands that three prime SEC jobs will likely come open (Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas) and all are likely more attractive to coaching candidates. So UK wants to move as quickly as possible. However a lot of the guys UK wants will be involved in bowl games/NFL season between now and UK would like to have a hire announced. Bottom line, I believe the search will move quickly, but when an announcement occurs will depend on the candidate pursued. The reality is that the right coach may take some time, but starting the process early, as UK can now do, helps immensely.

From my perspective, that is where we are. We will have more about names and the process tomorrow on the show. For now, the Joker Phillips era has ended and we all are a bit sad. But what the program needs now more than anything is a sense of unity from its fanbase about the future. The next two months are the most important two months in 20 years for UK football. This hire, and the work towards funding for Football facility renovation in Dec-Jan will decide whether UK football can make positive steps in the future. One book has closed, but another is beginning. What happens over the next two months decides whether the new book is positive, but the best (and only) things that fans can do now is shed the debates of the past and unify towards a common goal…moving Kentucky football in a positive direction.

Article written by Matt Jones

145 Comments for 10 Questions About the End of One Era and Beginning of Another

  1. TheRobBromley
    11:15 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    First? Back to you Matthew

  2. macon_volfan
    11:15 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    trust me, you don’t want to hire a coach from Louisiana Tech.

  3. Ice Cube
    11:17 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Every good coach has to start somewhere

  4. Addition by Subtraction
    11:18 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Matt who? Matt Jones

    Matt have you submitted your application to be the head coach on UK’s athletic job site? You know you thought about it.

  5. Blackdog
    11:20 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Anybody but Rex Ryan! He is a horrible coach and a loud mouth

  6. slappy
    11:21 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great stuff, appreciate the info MJ.

  7. UKfan20
    11:23 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    What about someone like WKU coach Willie Taggart? Great Coach, and good connection with NFL.

  8. HIRE LEMOND!!!!!
    11:23 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    HIRE LEMOND! Get him some great up-and-coming coordinators and he’ll give them the opportunity to show their brilliance! LEMOND FOR HEAD COACH! CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.

  9. BirdDog1980
    11:27 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Chucky Gruden dammit. Get it done Mitch!

  10. Eric K
    11:29 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    GO CATS!!

  11. SoCal Will
    11:30 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    UK has been bullied for 60 years on the playgrounds of the SEC. I say give our kids the biggest baddest junk yard dog money can buy and send him out with our kids. Make Calipari an advisor along with respected football people. Finally, remember recruiting is the IV fluid for a comatose patient. Xs and Os only matter if the Xs are bigger and the Os faster on Saturday.

  12. DCWildcat1742
    11:30 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    I say go for Jim Tressel or a OC or DC from a top five school. Or you go to the NFL OC or DC

  13. WeAreUK
    11:30 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    For me, this decision will not only make or break the UK football program for the next 20 years but will make or break Mitch’s job as well. He knows if he doesn’t hire a respectable coach then he’ll be the one on the hot seat. I encourage people not to get their hopes up on guys like Kirby Smart and Bobby Petrino coming to Kentucky because it probably won’t happen, simply because Mitch doesn’t want to spend the money necessary to acquire a high caliber candidate like them. The next month or so will be very interesting to say the least.

  14. Feather
    11:31 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    I think Matt should take Barnhats job. It’s time for a new athletic director not just a new coach!

  15. Henry Harris
    11:32 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Really hope UK will seriously consider UC’s Butch Jones!
    Proven successful head coach
    Young and dynamic
    Creative, innovative, entertaining football
    Knows the area…can recruit nationally and owns the “neglected” southwest Ohio market…Cincinnati!
    We probably can afford him and he would probably come
    Leach, Petrino, etc. are pale in comparison.

  16. Jason
    11:33 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Sucked to see Petrino would likely not be considered highly. He could do big things here (one of the few who could). Would get insanely excited about Kirby Smart. Feels like Rex Ryan is just embarrassing to even think is a real option, but WOW would that make UK instantly relevant, exciting, and competitive (a defensive minded coach is what we TRULY need in the SEC). Mike Leach would be great as well. Sonny Dykes as the last resort after those. Any word about Tressel?

  17. Wes
    11:33 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    My hire would be Jim Tressel! I already have my blue sweater vest ready to go! Besides, he is the biggest name out there without a job and he will fill Commonwealth immediately regardless that he has to sit out the first 5 games. If UK hires Tressel, I am definitely going to get season tickets next year! Anyway, those are my thoughts.

  18. old_school
    11:34 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    I hope Joker finishes out the season. Football teams are a family, and the coach is no doubt loved by those players. For them to take the field the final two games without their coach would be empty.

    The players understand college football is a business, and while the decision may hurt – they probably knew it was coming. But I hope Joker takes the opportunity to teach a life lesson over these next two weeks and stay at the helm – coach these kids that love him – and teach them that life goes on and it’s important to keep your head up even when you get knocked down.

    At this point – it’s much more than just about football – it’s the chance to model something bigger to these young athletes. Teaching them football may benefit them for a few years – teaching them how to be men will benefit them, their families and society for a lifetime!

    And fans remember – Joker is not like Billy G. He’s been a stand-up guy who’s never done anything to bring shame to the school or the state. I have no doubt that he tried his very best – it just didn’t work out. If he has the class to return for two more weeks – I hope the fans have the class to send him out with some dignity and respect.

  19. DirtyDutchMantel
    11:34 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Hearing Danny hope of purdue and the Iowa state coach will get a look.

  20. Bob Sacamano
    11:35 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Back the brinks truck up to Rex Ryan’s house and unload cash till he signs the contract.

  21. dave
    11:37 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    sonny dykes
    neal brown
    kliff kingsbury – from texas, qb under leach, implemented air raid at houston/texasam
    dan doeren
    kirby smart – assistant at UGA, LSU, FSU, bama
    jim tressel
    tom herman – OC at tOSU, from cincy & coached at 4 texas schools

    i think everyone can agree this is make or break for mitch.

  22. Hartline
    11:39 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Throw gobs of money at Kirby Smart.

  23. JeffCat
    11:40 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Do half the people that post on here know how to Read? All the “we can afford him” posts and “Mitch doesn’t want to spend the money necessary to win” ones just prove that we have a large ignorant fan base. Read the dang post. Then reread it. Then comment. Also, quit suggestion Chris Peterson. He turned down Notre Damn. 3+ million. Easy schedule. Easier to get to a national championship game than any team in the SEC due to having a choice on who to schedule.

  24. Eric K
    11:40 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Should start with the oc from oregon, go with a blank check and a plan that shows major improvements to everything that has to do with football. The guy will be able to recuit the south just from style of play, he’s already able to recuit the west coast! Please no has beens! GO CATS!!

  25. Joker
    11:40 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    We aint losin brah.

  26. FrigFullofBeer
    11:41 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Barnhart needs to go big or go home with next hire…. No need for 2nd ter coach, somebody “US” fans will be excited about and a place where top notch players want to go play for!!!! Show new coach that Barnhart will bring great facilities and put 110% effort that he means business by wanting to compete for championships in the SEC for football…. Kentucky won’t compete for sec titles with Duke’s or Louisiana Tech’s coach lets be honest here! Please Barnhart show next guy the world bececause there is no reason why UK football should be this awful to much to offer not be be a really good football school..

  27. Lisa
    11:43 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great post Matt. I agree it is a bit sad. I always hate to see someone lose their job, especially when they are such a class act like Joker. I wish him nothing but the best. As for the coaching search, from what I’ve seen on message boards and twitter, it will be hard to please the fan base. Mitch has his work cut out for him. Some are assuming UK can get anyone they want with the right $ and we know that’s not true. I would not want to be in MB’s shoes with this hire, any realistic candidate will probably be a gamble as far as how successful they are. I hope he involves the right people in the decision making process and remembers how taking a chance on a coach who seemed to be an ‘up and comer’ turned out for him previously.

  28. George
    11:44 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    My prediction is based on louisville. I know that sounds silly but we constantly compare ourselves to one another. Right now we sit where they sat the day they fired kragthorpe. In that time frame we were a solid top 25 team, bowl contender, and had beat them 5 years in a row. They now are us and we are the, this hire is a success if and when we turn those tables again. Anything more than 3 years will be a failure.

  29. Blue Jesus
    11:46 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    A couple questions:

    1. If Joker doesn’t finish out the season, who is the acting HC? Please don’t let it be Randy Sanders.
    2. When you mentioned that some big names will be reached out to that we hadn’t expected, I immediately thought of Josh McDaniels, could he be a possibility?

  30. Ifonly
    11:46 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    I know this will probably not happen, but imagine if we got John Gruden. His personality and not stop work ethic to go side by side with coach cal. And I’m sure he can recruit in the sec,( his espn exposed cant hurt), and he knows the game. If only.

  31. Intheknow
    11:50 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Joker will be the special teams coach for uofl next year.

  32. BUCats
    11:53 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    #32 – that unit is awful

  33. UK Football Fan
    11:53 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Bring back the “Air Raid Offense” by hiring Sonny Dykes!!

  34. Hal
    11:53 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    31- you forget to mention:
    tony dungy
    brian billick
    bill cowher
    sean payton

  35. supermegazoid roach
    11:54 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    Lemond would start too much drama! He can’t even behave right as a youth… I’m sorry middle school football announcer, much less coaching agianst Spurrier and the like! JaDaveon Clowney’s mom would whip his @$$ for calling her son the wrong name and he would never be able to recruit again! BOOOYA

  36. Jackson Purchase
    11:54 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    I would think mitch has already had feelers out to see who is interested in the HC position at Kentucky. I would consider Todd Monker the OC at OK State, he has coached in the NFL and college. If not Monker then Smart or the OC from Oregon, could use Rich Brooks Oregon ties to get him interested.

  37. Touché
    11:57 pm November 4, 2012 Permalink

    35 very true . But of all of those Gruden is my favorite.

  38. tdaddy
    12:00 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    i say again, why would a UK fan want a coach like petrino or tressel?!? both of them are proven cheaters/liars!! yes we want a good coach but not at the expense of the program!

  39. tyson
    12:01 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Matt, I was told today by someone in the media that there was a preliminary coaching search done LAST YEAR, and that you knew about it. Why wasn’t this reported about on this site?

    32–special FORCES, not special teams

  40. Bobby petrino says why not me?
    12:03 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    We are limiting ourselves if we do not approach and offer petrino. Duh Mitch!

  41. Hoof hearted
    12:05 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Realistically sonny dykes and the coach from Louisiana Monroe is good candidates n my opinion. But my dream is Jon GRUDEN.

  42. JJJ
    12:06 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    We need a proven coach in the SEC. Give us Fulmer or Petrino. It will make us relevant again and add excitement to the program.

  43. dream candidate
    12:13 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    REX RYAN would be the man. Let’s hope the jets lose out and he gets canned before the end of the season.

  44. Daniel Plainview
    12:15 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    MB will swing for the fences and come up just short… of the outfield. He will resort to people he knows and connections, here is a name to keep in mind, Danny Langsdorf. Might not be such a bad idea.

  45. Linda Taylor
    12:17 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    40 – Seriously? If such a thing did occur there is no way anyone could have reported it and ever received another press pass again.

  46. john
    12:18 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    If David Cutcliffe turns out to be UK’s new coach I will be finished with UK football. The cycle will continue.

  47. UKGrad04
    12:18 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    37. I agree on Monken (not Monker). I lived in Oklahoma for two years, and while I adopted OU instead of OSU (OU : UK :: OSU : UL : football : basketball), Gundy runs a pretty efficient ship, and they haven’t missed a beat with Monken at the helm of that offense. He’s also been at LSU and in Jacksonville (Jaguars, not Jax St.). I definitely think he’s someone to consider if this “high rish/high reward” hire doesn’t work out.

  48. 朝青龍
    12:20 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Rex Ryan? His massive ego & carnival sideshow would never coexist next to Cal.

  49. Bill Swerski
    12:21 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    As long as we’re just throwing out any big name, like they have any want or need to come to Kentucky, why don’t you go after the greatest football coach of all time–DITKA?

    That happens, this time next year we’ll be asking questions like: “Did God create Da Wildcats, and make them superior to all teams? Or is he simply a huge fan, and Ditka made them superior to all other teams?”

    Come on Mitch, if you’re going to go after Gruden, Tressel, and the Boise State coach, why not try out DITKA?

  50. Big Blue 66
    12:25 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    thanks Matt, Kirby Smart would be a home run….Rex Ryan, why do people think he would come here, is there some connection somewhere?….and people, give the Gruden stuff a break.

  51. Dominator
    12:25 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    If Oregon wins out and doesnt make the title game, see how big chip kelleys ego is. If not id like Clemsons head coach. Recruiting is all that matters. Get someone who can dominate a talented area of the country. We do not need a mid major hc who can’t compete recruiting .

  52. WeAreUk
    12:25 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    -50- Seriously? Mike Ditka? Is this the same guy who made the same statement on Lex 18 News at Buffalo Wild Wings? Be realistic, we’re looking at a current high caliber, college OC/DC at best.

  53. john
    12:26 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Has anyone checked out Dukes current commit list for football? Cutcliffe’s class is worse than UK’s. Its an absolute joke his name is even being considered!

  54. Horsepower
    12:28 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Gruden would be a horrible coach in my opinon. He ran off Rich McKay from Tampa Bay in ’03 (whom he won a Super Bowl with) and got his handpicked replacement Bruce Allen and went on a terrible draft pics run until management had seen enough and paid him in full for 3 years while he was a broadcaster just to get rid of him. Gruden/Allen draft pics from ’04 thru ’08 are a who’s who of failures. Evaulating talent is not one of Gruden’s strenghts.

  55. UKGrad04
    12:30 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    52. Don’t get so hung up on recruiting. Joker was a capable recruiter. I put more stock into things like scheme and attitude. And for all the great recruiting Dabo Swinney has done the last few years, it’s not necessarily translating into wins. Now, that’s not to say it won’t; he has a lot of young talent there, but the jury’s out. (Although this doesn’t matter; he’s not leaving Clemson).

    And I’m not even sure what you mean about Chip Kelly’s ego. I don’t think his ego, id, or superego would get behind him leaving Oregon, especially for UK.

  56. mashburnfan1
    12:32 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Why not a young up and coming guy like the coach from toledo or kent st. you know urban meyer was once an up and coming guy at ohio u, went to utah and most know the rest. toledo just beat cincy.
    dykes may be ok if he gets a top notch def coord. i do love the fact his only loss was by 2 points to tex a&m. tex a&m is a very tough team and would beat us by 40 plus.

  57. UKGrad04
    12:33 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Addendum: I’m not saying recruiting isn’t important–of course it is. But look at the difference between teams like Florida State, USC, Texas (who always have a top 5 or top 10 class) and LSU, Bama, Oregon. The only differences are scheme and attitude. It’s the reason WKU beat us with “inferior” talent. Talent doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know how to most efficiently develop it and use it within your scheme.

  58. Welllllllllllll....
    12:35 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    If UK really wanted to spend the money and I know its a slim chance why not try Bill Cowher? I would love to have a coach with an attitude and a great defense. Just a wish. lol

  59. steve
    12:37 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    I like trident. Not much of a chance there but might as well give it a shot.

  60. steve
    12:38 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Gruden I mean. Damnable autocorrect!

  61. Justin
    12:40 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Yes, fellow football fans! Please, comment about how UK should do this or that to be a winning program (hiring a defensive mind in SEC) while you have so little knowledge about football. Sure, defense first works at Bama and LSU but we will NEVER attract the talent needed for great defense… On the other hand, we can get a OC or HC with spread back ground. Only chance we have in SEC… #Dykes

  62. Wellllllll...
    12:42 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    62 your right but we did have a defense to beat #1 LSU one year and we can do it again. We can get the talent if we hire the coach who can get it.

  63. UKGrad04
    12:43 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    62. I tend to agree. Dykes gives us the best chance to beat the mid to lower level SEC teams, and if you think about it, Brooks didn’t even do that consistently. If he can do that for a few years, then you can look at getting a better level of talent, and try to do what South Carolina is doing now.

  64. Trevor
    12:45 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    In my opinion the following are a pipe dream. Gruden, Cowher, Ryan (why would you want him), Peterson, Kelly, Ditka (huh?). Jim Tressel has to pass a “show cause” before anyone can hire him. Phil Fulmer? Are you kidding me?!??!

    I think that MB will swing for the fences for at least two guys. Don’t know who, but they will be just for show.

    I think the meat is going to be the hot coordinator route. UK can be a decent program. We just need the commitment. Show that commitment to a hot coordinator and throw the right amount of cash at them and we can do it.

    MB needs to act fast though. Do not, I repeat, do not wait until the other jobs officially open. Auburn and Tennessee are better jobs. Arkansas has already been looking since John L. was interim anyway. Rumors are they are looking at Butch Davis at Arkansas.

  65. Trevor
    12:47 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    62 – I agree wholeheartedly. I want an HC with an innovative offensive mind. Then back that up with a home run DC hire.

  66. [email protected]
    12:51 am November 5, 2012 Permalink


  67. UKBlue
    1:18 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch is hard headed & he needs to understand his weaknesses & just how screwed up UK football has become; The fact Mitch hired Billy G & Joker just reinforces just how much help he needs; Cal was nothing more than I don’t have a choice hire. Mitch needs as much help as he can get whether it be from Cal, Couch or whoever.

    Leave Capilouto out of it, this guy has already shown & proven he’s an idiot, and if UK was smart they would get rid of him & start looking for a new President at the same time.

  68. JBR
    1:27 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    I’m still waiting for an apology from Mitch’s arrogant, divisive comment.

    And, KSR, you have beaten the “sad news” story to death. Look, I wanted Joker to succeed too…but I am tired of people being sad about it. He was paid millions to run this program into the groung. He underperformed from day 1, and did not deserve the money he was paid. Sucks for him it didn’t work out, but it was his performance that caused that, nothing else. While you can continue to whine about it, this is a HAPPY day for our football program, as we finally have at least something not to dread and hopefully look forward to with a new leader. The thing that I am telling myself about this searh…we can’t hire anyone any worse than we had.

  69. KYFAN502
    1:47 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    IF we get a big name coach, I believe Coach Cal will play a huge part in his hiring.

  70. Mr. Excitement
    1:51 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    What about Dan Hawkins? Sure he underperformed at Colorado but he won more games than anyone in 5 years at Boise st. I’m sure he’d like to prove he’s still got it and everybody wants to hire Chris Petersen so go get his predessor. He’s got the high powered offense and I think he’s learned about defense.

  71. Manbearpig
    2:01 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    #20 nice joke on throwing out Hope

  72. Dewayne
    2:06 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Dan Hawkins? That’s the 1st time I’ve heard anybody bring his name up but I agree. He mentored Chris Petersen plus Brett Pease & the DC at Clemson came from his coaching tree. He’s actually #3 all time on the most wins in 1st 5 Yeats of head coaching list. But I think the thing that hurts him is the Co. catastrophe but Co. is helluva lot worse off than Ky. But yeah I think I’d like to see him on the sideline.

  73. m
    2:21 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    I see as Rich Brooks was Tubby and Joker was like Gillespie…so that makes the New coach like Calipari! Yay lol

  74. yea
    2:22 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    What about Lou Holtz?!

  75. KY Fan 40502
    2:37 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    WHO CARES? Its Basketball Season, and TIME for 9!

  76. fact
    4:54 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Butch Davis would listen, but Mitch doesn’t want anything to do with him. While there were issues at UNC, Emmert would vouch for him.

  77. Jeff
    5:04 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Word is that Mitc still didn’t want to fire his friend. He was told to by Eli Capiluoti. Otherwise, we may have another year of the joker.

  78. TampaCat
    5:37 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Guys, stop it with the Gruden talk… Trust me.

  79. Paul Mercer
    5:56 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    My choice: Jim Leavitt would be a slam dunk hire.

  80. Paul Mercer
    5:58 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    By he way… MB can make some really terrible hires.

  81. Mitch Rapp
    6:00 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Unleash Cal the salesman to help hire his buddy Mike Tomlin. MT coached at several colleges in the 90s.

  82. Raazoul
    6:19 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Good luck Mitch. You’re gonna have to sell the worst program in our league, worst recruiting base, ignorant fans who demand bowl games even though we’ve been to like 5 in 50 years, the coach will only get 2-3 years to turn it all around, oh and wether or not we get the money to fix facilities is determined by politicians in Frankfort. Ya, good luck Mitch. Just hire whoever doesn’t laugh and hang up when they answer…

  83. Raazoul
    6:23 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    And actually 81, Mitch hasn’t made a single bad hire. Billy G was the hottest coach in sports, Donovan said no, Crean said no, Calipari just had his final four vacated. Joker was a must hire. He was a great OC, was set to leave and Brooks demanded it. Both coaches had the minimum amount of time to prove themselves, neither did, both were fired.

  84. Juan4UK
    6:24 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    If Mitch promises major facility upgrades and the legislators deny funding, then UK football can/will be screwdriver for the next 15 yrs. With the landscape of Football moving the way it is and the possibilities of breaking away from the ncaa a possibility, if there was ever a time to go all in, now would be it.

  85. kes
    6:27 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    i love when all these hicks get on here naming all these different people. half of you dont know the first thing about football, and if you do, you have NO IDEA what it takes to hire someone with a pedigree. stick to basketball and leave the football talk to those of us who know whats going on

  86. Section 135
    6:34 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Tressel? What’s the attraction? If he couldn’t beat the SEC with Ohio States recruits how can you think he could win here? Kingsbury or Dykes should be our first choices. Maybe Taggard.

  87. JimTheChin
    6:35 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Home run.. Loved reading this. Very exciting to think about the future of UK football. Good job Matthew.

  88. Dave
    6:38 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch is an idiot for not going after Petrino.

    Point Blank Period

    Mitch will never get it done with Kentucky Football.

    A Cutcliffe hire will be the last hire that Mitch makes. Mitch will get fired along with Cutcliffe in 3 to 5 years.

  89. BPsycho
    6:41 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    #82 Lol He would have to be the greatest salesman in history.

    #83 “Just hire whoever doesn’t laugh and hang up when they answer…” Yes this.

    I know I didn’t just read Rex Ryan and Tony Dungy…… What are some of you smoking and where did you get it?

  90. BLUE BLY
    6:45 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Kirby Smart….

  91. Raazoul
    6:48 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    87 are you retarded? Really? OSU lost only to SEC teams who won the national title. He didn’t lose to Vandy, UK, Ole Miss, etc. You don’t think a coach with 2 national titles is good enough for UK? Once again, tell me if you’re handicapped so I won’t be so harsh on you. (see what I mean when I say UK has the dumbest, uninformed fan base in America?)

  92. Big Whoop
    6:49 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

  93. Therightchoice
    6:53 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Phil Fulmer would be an epic choice for the program. National Championship coach at UK.

  94. Billy Gillispie
    6:56 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    I was one of Mitch’s “high risk, high reward” hires too…

    7:40 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    “The problem for Kentucky is there will potentially be four coaching vacancies in the SEC alone: Arkansas, Auburn, and Tennessee may well have vacancies in addition to Kentucky,” Charles D. Smith of wrote. “In a school-yard pick-um, Kentucky would probably get stuck with the fourth pick. Why? : Because no coach has left UK with a winning record since Blanton Collier in 1961. An upgrade in facilities is necessary to recruit against the Cats’ competition and fans will have to be convinced to come back to Commonwealth Stadium.”

    T.J. Walker of suggested Kentucky needs to follow the lead of its in-state rival Louisville. When it became stagnant in Louisville under the direction of Steve Kragthorpe, Cardinals’ brass were decisive in replacing him. Kentucky should follow suit.

    If Kentucky were to follow Louisville’s path, it would then hire a well respected SEC coordinator. Georgia’s Todd Grantham, Alabama’s Kirby Smart, Texas A&M’s Kliff Kingsbury or even Florida’s Dan Quinn are all legitimate options Kentucky should consider.

    Another potential target is Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes. The Bulldogs are currently ranked higher than they have ever been in the school’s history, and Dykes guided them to said point. Dykes also has a history with Kentucky. He was an[..]istant under Hal Mumme in 1999.

    Kentucky could only hope former Petrino is desperate enough to take the job. Otherwise, the team certainly won’t be discussing high end coaching candidates when the time comes.

  96. Mike
    7:45 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Our new coach will be Phillip Fulmer. Just wait and see UK has been in contact with him for weeks now!

  97. Douglas Roberts
    7:48 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    It MUST be a coach that will excite current players, incoming commitments and future kids to be recruited. This will be a critical time in the AD’s career here at UK. Blow this and the future of football here will be set back more than it is now.

  98. Golf pro in lil bro villa
    7:49 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Thanks MJ!
    #19 – yes sir.
    Exciting times to be a cat fan!

  99. Jeff Combs
    7:50 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    You people screaming for Mitch to go are idiots. This is nothing new for football. He didn’t ruin anything. But to see where our other teams are because of him is amazing. Both basketball programs, baseball, track, tennis, volleyball. He is the ATHLETIC Director, not the football director. Morons.

  100. Tired of Being 1 of 12 games
    7:53 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Matt has said many times that Cal would tell his asst coaches not to go to a school that is not going to win its conference. But the Auburn basketball coach is a Cal guy. Auburn basketball=UK football?

  101. Dano
    7:54 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    An SEC coordinator may not be the answer unless they can flip recruiting from day one. It takes speed or power to line up in the SEC, and we posess neither. Coaches trying to run their offense at UK will look like Curry putting Couch in the option. We may need a “name coach” but the cordinators will have to be creative, and know how to win/ be competitive with less talent.

  102. Swiperboy
    8:00 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    ERIC BERRRRRRRRY!!!!! Eric Berry!

  103. Brad
    8:04 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    I will be interesting to see if and when UK decides to fire Mitch Barnhardt. He’s got us into TWO messes now and has used UK’s checkbook (or will very soon), to buy himself out of both messes.

    I think I’m going to crash the computer network here at the hospital and then go out and hire the best, most expensive IT support firm I can find (with the hospitals checkbook), and then walk around the hospital and act like I am the saviour.

  104. Stan
    8:09 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    So,as it looks, Mitch isn’t going to respond to the insults he threw at 90% of the fans,just let it lay there and ignore it. He must have meant every word. Big suprise Mitch, a lot of us feel the same way about you,wish you were leaving also.

  105. markp
    8:11 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Mike Leach! I have been saying him for two years. Bring back that high powered offense because UK can’t play smash mouth football with the big boys in the SEC, at least not now. Watch Commonwealth become electric once again.

  106. WalkersGoggles
    8:15 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    @ Jeff Combs—Track tennis volleyball?????? ROFLMAO! I really hope you are joking or YOU are the moron

    The only two sports that matter are football and basketball!! Who cares about the tennis team? No offense to those kids in the smaller sports but Football and Basketball are the MAIN EVENT. They drive the bus.

  107. Pdelli2
    8:19 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Tubberville, skip Holtz, or Bowden are realistic.

  108. FedUp
    8:25 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Is Jeff Combs Mitch’s speech writer. So, anybody that disagrees with Mitch is a moron? STFU

  109. Yab
    8:26 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Petrino is who the vast majority of fans want. Only a fool wouldn’t seize the opportunity to hire the guy that would bring instant sell outs and wins to his program. There shouldn’t be any other coach being talked about at this point in time.

  110. Bob Loblaw
    8:28 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Since we are swinging for the fences, my vote is on Chip Kelley.

  111. t wood
    8:35 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Since it appears La Tech’s strength appears to be its offense, does anyone have a good feel for whether that is primarily because of Dyke’s or Franklin’s coaching?

  112. Hitch
    8:38 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    First of all, everyone has lost their moral compassif they suggest that jackass Bobby Petrino. From his stunts at UL, to the L Falcons to Hog-land, he is nothing less than a toxic low-life. I’ve been watching UK football since Jerry Claiborne’s final 2 seasons. Since then the only continuity we had was under Rich Brooks. This is ironic for so many reasons! I sure hope Mitch involves Rich in the search process. Books has been there and done that. We need LEADERSHIP and a consistent plan more than anything right now.

  113. meeksuperfan
    8:40 am November 5, 2012 Permalink


  114. Honky Kong
    8:50 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Mike Leach !!

  115. Rodney
    9:03 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Petrino is the best college coach for what uk is and needs to go to.

  116. That's Live Action!
    9:07 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    MIKE LEACH hasn’t won a conference game all season. If he can’t win in the PAC, he defintely won’t win in the SEC.

  117. MJH1551
    9:07 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    I’m not a UK fan but saw this link on twitter. I am curious, what did Pat Forde do to become hated by the UK sports administration?

  118. BPsycho
    9:09 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    #111 Ha

    Nick Saban with Les Miles and Lovie Smith on his staff !


  119. BPsycho
    9:11 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    #118 He was born for starters, and his forehead be takin up too much damn space.

  120. JD West
    9:25 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    I’m ready for a good hire, I just don’t see it happening. Of course Gruden and others would be awesome hires, but there’s a better chance that I’m the new head coach. Why do some of you think someone like that would EVER take this job? Pity? Dykes is about the biggest name we could get and I’m not sure he would even take it.

  121. Head Bussa
    9:26 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Do not let personal feelings get in the way of this hire. If you can get Bobby Petrino, you get him. If you can’t, you go after Mark Helfrich.

  122. PepperHeaded
    9:29 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    I found this on another website, posted by a fellow named cheese grits. It’s not my original material but I have to agree with the post 100%.

    The issue is two pronged

    a) Stop playing in state schools and schedule to raid non SEC footprints

    drop UL for IU to get Indy / Chicago exposure
    drop WKU for an ACC school
    drop FCS school for a non AQ in CUSA / Sun Belt

    b) What works for many non SEC schools will not work at UK and Mumme was proof that offense only long term is a bad call. Brooks has some good offense but he also knew to build a respectable defense.

    I can agree to disagree but doing what may work in the Big East, Big 12, and PAC is sure suicide in a conference where defense is a vital part of winning. Look at Notre Dame this year as how radical their fortunes have changed switching from offense to defense. I understand and appreciate your view and if this were any other conference I would be in agreement with you. The trick for UK is how to carve out a niche while remaining in the SEC.

    To me this is scheduling as much as coaching hires and continuing to give the other state schools exposure will never help UK if they (UL, WKU, et al) let schools in weaker conferences have no win games with UK.

    If UK can get to 6 wins in a season with teams that will draw more national exposure it will be a powerful first step in recruiting teenage kids in the age of media influence.

    6 win and better exposure strategy
    +1 B1G win OOC (via IU / PU / IL)
    +1 ACC win OOC (via UVA / Duke / MD / Wake Forest)
    +1 non AQ win via Sun Belt, MAC, CUSA
    +1 non AQ win via Army, Navy, Air Force

    +1 SEC win vs SEC east bottom (Vandy, Vols, Mizzou)
    +1 SEC win vs SEC east bottom (Vandy, Vols, Mizzou)
    +1 SEC win vs SEC west bottom when on schedule

  123. Han
    9:38 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    For me, you have to at least reach out through back channels to the HUGE names, the guys who are former NFL coaches (Gruden, Billick, Mangini, Cohwer) or soon-to-be former NFL coaches (Ryan, Payton, Lewis? Reid? Shanahan?), the disgraced college coaches (Tressel and Petrino), or the top assistants. Yeah, you probably get laughed at, but you have to pitch the potential of the program, not its reality. This program has not had a legend since we lost Bear. We get one of these guys, they can be a legend in a way they wouldn’t be at another school, or even at an NFL team.

    You pitch UK’s national profile as a basketball team and the idea of standing next to Cal and making UK the next big thing in the best football conference. You pitch having to recruit hard, and having a couple tough years, but then being coach of the year when you succeed. You pay them as much as anyone else save maybe Saban. And you promise whatever upgrades to facilities it takes. People say UK fans don’t care about football. That’s just because UK’s program never gives us a reason to care about the program.

    The fans who are saying we shouldn’t even try to get the big names are the same type of fans that said we shouldn’t have talked to Izzo (he listened) and that Cal wouldn’t leave the superclass he was building at Memphis (he did).

    Get some help, Mitch. Guys like Couch. And maybe a guy like recent HoF Dawson. Guys with name recognition and some insight into winning football. And even if the HUGE names turn us down, ask them to join a coaching search committee. If you can’t get them, having them looking for you looks pretty good.

  124. Swordswinger
    9:42 am November 5, 2012 Permalink


    Otherwise, Kirby Smart would be the home run, but is probably a reach.

    Sonny Dykes or Kingsbury would be good solid hires.

    Taggart as a last resort?

    No bigger names are coming.

    Please STFU about Petrino. We would regret that within the year.

  125. Han
    9:43 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    One more thing – Cal helps recruit the new coach. Cal knows the fanbase and how to use it, and you know he’d like to have a higher profile football program (so long as his funding remains as good as it is). You think Cal likes taking basketball recruits to home loss after home loss at Commonwealth?

  126. Han
    9:46 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    125) Point of interest – Leach is in his first year out west, and they ain’t great.

    No bigger names are coming? “Coach Cal is not coming to Kentucky. You all ran off Tubby. You ruined whatever potential Gillispie had. You’re irrelevant. No one cares about Kentucky except Kentucky fans. Take Pelphrey or Ford IF they’ll come…” Remember that? And that’s with our tradition.

    You don’t know they won’t come until you ask. Worried about being embarrassed? Really? Ship’s already sailed on that one. Yeah, it can look pathetic to reach way too high, not know your place. It can also look ballsy and appealing as a program that WANTS to make a coach a legend.

  127. Matt Jones
    9:54 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    How much more bullshit can I make up today? I’m going with at least 3 more paragraphs.

  128. classof68
    9:58 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    60 – Good idea. Let’s hire a pack of gum. Won’t cost much, and it won’t do any worse than Joker did.

  129. Chuck
    10:02 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Why not go after Kirby Smart as HC and see if he can bring Kentucky bred Neal Brown from Texas Tech as his OC. It must be frustrating for Brown to see his offense marred by a poor defense. What a great combo that would be. Regardless, stay away from the pro coaches. Imagine a high powered offense under Brown with a head coach that stresses defense also?

  130. Rixter
    10:04 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Joker had a good moral compass. So did Bill Curry.

    Rah Rah, MORAL COMPASS U!!

  131. Hell nae
    10:11 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Joker deserves to coach the last two games, win or lose. If Billy Clyde, a total loser could coach until the NIT, Joker should finish up the season with his seniors.

    Unlike Billy Clyde, Joker was a class act. Mitch should be fired.

  132. Rodney
    10:13 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    #110 amen

  133. Aaron Craft's Rosacea
    10:14 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Kirby Smart is the hire we need to make. With Arkansas, Auburn, and UT being open though we’d have to throw the bank at him. His name will pull in a good DC, something which this team desperately needs.

  134. bluesince66
    10:23 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Washington State just got beat 49-6 by Utah, don’t think Leach is the man. Kirby Smart would be my pick, I just don’t see an O.C. coming to the SEC without a top notch D.C. and making it any better. The last two coaches we had that left on their own terms were Clayborne and Brooks both defensive coaches. Just hope they get it right, but won’t be surprised if they don’t.

  135. kybigblue
    10:30 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    If we hire a coach who has a losing record as a head coach look for more of the same with UK football.

  136. catcounsel
    10:46 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Each person or Big Blue Faithful is entitled to an opinion here. THIS IS OUR PROGRAM! I believe Joker Phillips should coach our team the final two games this season. Come on people, the next game is Senior Day and they are entitled to have their coach with them for this event. And don’t forget, Joker beat Tennessee last year!!!!!

  137. Southbound
    11:29 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    A name no one has mentioned, but has experience in building a program from the ground. Plus he seems to be outstanding in finding hidden talent and developing players is Art Briles. I’m not sure anyone could pull him out of the state of Texas but he would bring in an exciting style of football and he is a solid developer of QBs.

    Everyone mentions Jon Gruden but I think I would rather have Jay Gruden. He is a solid offensive coordinator who would do wonders for our QBs.

    Just my 2 cents.

  138. Dave
    11:46 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Yeay! Joker beat UT. So what!

    He beat a pitiful UT team that is also about to fire their coach.

    There is no glory in beating UT last year. They were down. Way down.

    It’s like bragging about beating Army now based on their former glory years. Who gives a damn.

    Mitch should hire Smart from Bama. Kentucky needs to finally get some defense.

  139. Ben Fletcher
    11:54 am November 5, 2012 Permalink

    Mike Leach. Coached at UK. Head Coaching experience in a real football conference…offensive wizard–ask Tim Couch. NFL Coaches regularly talk to him about his offense–that is earned respect. He believes in himself and is not intimidated by the SEC or guys like Spurrier. Most importantly, he’s a proven big-time winner. His offense is always exciting.

    He is the only close to perfect hire for UK football.

  140. Trip
    12:05 pm November 5, 2012 Permalink

    I am a Cat fan but is it just me or was it pretty classless to fire a man by open letter to a website. I am sure he spoke with Joker before hand but man up and go before the media. I have a lot of respect for the UK program and some of the things that Barnhardt has done but that sets me back. Thanks for letting me share my opinion.

  141. Big Names
    12:31 pm November 5, 2012 Permalink

    If Mitch considers “Big Names” to be Kirby Smart and Mike Leach especially, this 13 year season ticket holder has already made up his mind to not renew. I don’t consider college coordinator’s big names, and I have no clue what the fascination with Mike Leach is or how u consider him a big name. Why because he had a couple good year’s at Texas Tech? They are the 3rd tier school in their own state and that’s a big name?

  142. Dennys Lettuce
    3:30 pm November 5, 2012 Permalink

    If you really want to win in football, bring in a priest to exercise the Curse of Bear Bryant!

  143. TH1982
    4:30 pm November 5, 2012 Permalink

    For what it’s worth, defense wins championships… Alabama allows 8.3ppg under Kirby Smart. If money is no issue, GO GET HIM and GET IT DONE!!!

  144. chris h
    6:28 pm November 5, 2012 Permalink

    integrity first, we don’t need a quicky fix that fans want and then get buried in NCAA investigations … Shoot the moon, back up Ft Knox and start with Boise State coach and see if he will, then work down list, No to Cutcliff, Dykes, Petrino and Smart