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Joker Phillips is “scraping the bottom” of the SEC barrel.

We’re in there, somewhere.

To everyone in Lexington, it’s fairly obvious that all is not right with the football program this season.  There have been injuries and a little bad luck, sure, but we were still mostly healthy when we played Louisville and Western, and we saw how that went.

And now, according to everyone’s favorite SEC football exclusive blog, Saturday Down South, Joker is officially “scraping the bottom” of the coaching barrel in the nation’s best conference.  There’s little solace anymore in saying “hey, at least we’re in the barrel. Best conference in the nation, right?”  That salve has stopped being soothing.  On Joker’s season, SDS said:

There could be four legitimate coaching changes in the SEC after this season… Joker Phillips may be cursed this season. Sitting at 1-6 and losing two of his better quarterbacks to injury, Phillips could be on his way out. The only other win on the schedule looks like Samford.

Well, at least they’re saying it’s because he’s “cursed,” right?

Joining Joker at the bottom are Gary Pinkel (Mizzou), Gene Chizik (Auburn), Derek Dooley (Tennessee), and John L. Smith (Arkansas).  Vanderbilt’s James Franklin is somewhere “lost in the middle” after a somewhat disappointing season for Vandy (since when is any season “disappointing” for Vandy?).

Meanwhile, Nick Saban is listed as “top shelf,” which is fair, if even something of an understatement.  I’m not even sure he’s in the same cabinet, if we’re extending the liquor metaphor; he may be in a locked desk drawer somewhere.  Les Miles and Steve Spurrier are “next level,” Dan Mullen (Miss. State) and Will Muschamp are “hottest young coaches,” and Mark Richt is “knocking at the door.”  Heck, even Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) and Kevin Sumlin (A&M) are “better than advertised.”

Apart from being inconsistent with their metaphors (Saban is a bottle of booze, while Mullen and Muschamp are subjects of a GQ article? Richt is what, a trick-or-treater?), the assessments are very accurate.  So what does Kentucky have to do to move out of the “scraping the bottom” category with our coaching staff?  There are a lot of possible, viable solutions, but one thing is sure: whatever the University does, it will have to involve change.  Whether that’s personnel, culture, or budget, what’s happening is simply not working.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  If significant changes aren’t made, you can say one of two things about the administration: either they don’t want to see change, or they’re insane.  Those are really the only options.

We don’t need “top shelf” necessarily, just not “scraping the bottom.”  We’ll take “better than advertised.”  But, as the Deadspin blurb pointed out, and Saturday Down South reinforces, something’s going to have to give if we want to get out of the bottom of the barrel.

Article written by Corey Nichols

34 Comments for Joker Phillips is “scraping the bottom” of the SEC barrel.

  1. Kingscuba89
    9:07 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    This Saturday is going to be horrific day for Kentucky football. Joker better have his big boy pants on for this game. Go cats!

  2. Dickie Z
    9:09 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    I must use “all” (of) the, commas, “quotation” “marks”, (and) parenthesis possible.

  3. English101
    9:14 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Dear Dickie Z., At least they were used properly. The punctuation is
    completely appropriate, as another person’s writing is being quoted.
    Furthermore, the parenthesis are used appropriately and necessarily
    as well, for purposes of clarification. ‘Nice to see a well-written and
    properly punctuated article on the internet these days.
    Heck, most online newspapers don’t even do it anymore.
    Good work, Nichols.

  4. CatGrad7072
    9:16 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Maybe if UGA isn’t too interested, they will only score @45 on us.

  5. gsf
    9:17 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    The case for Kirby Smart… he is currently the defensive coordinator for Alabama. He has 2 BCS titles and he is looking for a head coaching job. He is currently making 750K and we could pay him in the 2 mil range. His history is primarily in the SEC and the South in general so there is an assumption that he would like to stay in the SEC. He is not going to Auburn, Petrino is going to Tennessee so that leaves us to battle between Mizzo and Arkansas. We should be able to beat out Mizzo and the battle would be with Arkansas to get this guy.

  6. barn
    9:17 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    this is like having 2 buy weeks in a row for uga. nice post

  7. JayCee
    9:20 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    5- why would Smart choose to come to UK when he could have 10 other jobs that offer more money, more support and an overall easier path to winning in his first HC job?

  8. UKBlue1!
    9:21 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    News Flash! Joker scraped the bottom of the barrel in season #1. He had Randle Cobb and didn’t know how to use him.

  9. gsf
    9:22 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    7 – that’s a good question and one that Mitch will have to answer

  10. j
    9:23 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Barnhart just seems like a weird individual. Looks, sounds, etc. Like Mitt Romney’s weird little brother.

  11. Joe
    9:23 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Agree with #6. Florida can’t be happy when Georgia gets two bye weeks in a row before playing them!

  12. JayCee
    9:24 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    #8- You are correct. Joker is still getting paid right now b/c of what Cobb and Trevathan did for him 2 years ago.

  13. Frugile
    9:34 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    In this economy, we don’t need to be throwing money around to improve the UK football program. The money could be put to better use. Money spent on UK football is simply wasted money.

  14. mikeyUKfan1
    9:38 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Not to get off topic but would you all please do something with that annoying Nissan commercial, every time my mouse pointer touches the add it comes on.
    Please again, don’t think I’m complaining but you’ve got to do something about that add. I know you need revenue but not to the expense of your viewers, not that I would leave because I look at this site several times a day but please do something with the Nissan add.
    Go Big Blue ! ! !

  15. B-Lord
    9:40 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Mike Leach will be our coach next year.

  16. JayCee
    9:43 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    14- adblockerplus, bro.

  17. tom
    9:45 am October 16, 2012 Permalink


  18. Dougm68
    9:57 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Here’s a little pre-game motivation for the UK fans.


  19. Beat Georgia
    10:00 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Begging for some excitement this Saturday Joker.

    Punting is the only thing going right for this team. Thank goodness no coach knows anything about punting. Make a point Joker and start your reserves, like coaches do in baskeball when they are getting whipped. It’s not because your team is young. There were more missed tackles on defense than in a girls game this past weekend and it’s stretching it calling them missed tackles, when the guy wasn’t even touched. They scored every time they had the ball, with their young players doing a lot of the sccoring. Your offense has done nothing. Your punt returner has done nothing. Your kick off returners have done nothing. Your punting team got burned for a TD, only to be saved by a penalty last week. You haven’t scored a TD in the first quarter of 19 straight games. Nothing is going right. Get po’d in a news conference. Get po’d at your coaches. Start some conflict. Throw the microphone and say how mad you are. Light a fire. Fire up the team and the fans. Tell GA to expect a Cat fight. Tell the fans to wear black shirts to the game to honor the funeral you are going to present to GA. Tell the fan base that you are as mad as they are at the performance of your players and especially your coaching staff.

  20. catcrawler
    10:03 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    #13 Not if there’s a nice return on that investment. With interest rates so low, it’s easy to borrow for cheap – and it can be worth it if the investment reaps increased revenue and pays for itself.

  21. Trevor
    10:04 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    if we go for young up and comer if there aren’t any big names interested, Neal Brown wouldnt be a great option. Kentucky boy who did a great job at Troy and now is starting to turn heads as OC at Texas Tech.

  22. UK Fan
    10:06 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch Barnhart is not an overly intelligent man to begin with. He is lost as an SEC AD. Can’t hack it. Where did this guy come from anyway. Joker will lwave but nothing will change.

  23. Take your pick
    10:10 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Smart, petrino, dykes, leach, tressel, hudsmith, or anyone that can beat Louisville, and three non BCS schools EVERY year. There is zero reason for us to not have a minimum of four wins a year.

  24. DirtyDave
    10:24 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    What #19 said!!! That’s all I have to say about that.
    Regarding coach search, we should swing for fences and hope for a nice line drive in the shallows!
    At any rate a good and strong personality is needed. Get the right headpiece… Get him in the doors and the recruits will come. If Mitch has any clue whatsoever, he enlists the help of the best PR firm in the business( and that would be our very own) Cal Inc. This man could sell you a dead horse!

  25. UK Fan
    10:37 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Joker–you’ve quit on the field, why don’t you quit for real and resign? Oh, and I think you owe the state of Kentucky several hundred thousands dollars which you obtained in salary through mis-representing yourself as a football coach. Barnhart should be charged as an accessory to fraud.

  26. SecCellerDweller
    10:55 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Here is what Howard Schnellenberger had to say about UK football.

    “They have to do what Louisville did (in 1984), take a long hard look at themselves, admit they have a problem and need help, the way an alcoholic does,” Schnellenberger said.

    “They have to commit themselves to getting well, refuse to surrender and place their trust in a higher power. They have to go through the entire 12-step program like we did in Louisville. It’s not easy to admit, but it has to be done.

    “They have to get the right group of people leading the charge, develop the zeal to line up behind the recovery and climb to the top of the mountain. Everybody has to get behind the person in charge with an undisputed unison. They have to give the football program the resources to be great. That’s where it starts.”

  27. JLivermore
    10:58 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    It disappointed me when we lost the traditions of playing for the Bourbon Barrel against Indiana and the Beer Barrel against Tennessee. But it’s refreshing to know we can now play for the Bottom of the Barrel against Mizzou.

  28. UK Fan
    11:36 am October 16, 2012 Permalink

    #26–everything Schellenberger said points to the same conclusion. UK must dump Barnhart if it ever hopes to improve their football program. He has proven he is incapable of leading and developing a competitive football program in the SEC. Howard speaks the truth. Getting rid of Joker is not going to change anything without the commitment of the overall administration, which Barnhart is incapable of giving.

  29. goUKats
    12:00 pm October 16, 2012 Permalink

    A head coach is only as good as his assisstants,or as good as he requires his assisstants to be,and the guys Joker has brought in are less than stellar.And therein is the problem.Either these guys are coaching out of their postion,have no lattitude,or the demands on their performance are minimal at best.

  30. Booster
    12:03 pm October 16, 2012 Permalink

    Ive got it on good authority that Sonny Dykes will be our next head coach. Former assistant and alumni. He learned the air raid under Mumme and Leach. We may not win immediately but Towles will put up some numbers and we will be competitive. Give the guy a chance were not built for the air raid immediately but once he gets his kids in here it’s only a matter of time. I’m talking about 6-7 wins and a bowl. That’s out ceiling……Kentucky football. Blllaaartt

  31. wake up
    12:12 pm October 16, 2012 Permalink

    #15. Leach will not be the coach here. I wish everyone would stop bringing up Leach’s name for being the next head coach. He was under Mumme when we were placed on probation, we will NOT bring him back.

  32. Mike Leach
    12:58 pm October 16, 2012 Permalink

    I would make Kentucky football exciting again. And, the NCAA sanctions will be minor.

  33. Mike Leach
    12:59 pm October 16, 2012 Permalink

    #31: You are sadly mistaken. Me and Mitch are already talking fringe benefits.

  34. playersfan
    2:07 pm October 16, 2012 Permalink

    I’m tired of the quarterback injury excuse, He stills has his annointed number 1 quarterback healthy!