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Joker Phillips remains confident in the future


Prior to last night’s tip with Auburn, UK football coach Joker Phillips acquiesced to the requests of the media and briefly met with the best-dressed group of professionals in the state.  And the talk was all about the future.  As Will mentioned, Phillips said that Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski are both further along in their development right now than Andre Woodson was at this point.  That optimism, or, depending on how you’re looking at it, that dished out moral victories, was a consistent theme of the discussion dictated by a coach who is dealing with more than a few disappointed fans – next year starts now.

Joker did not want to dwell much on the past (he did mention the Cats were “a few bounces” away from winning eight games), talking more about the future of the program and how he is confident that he has the players in place to help Kentucky reach the next level.  But, he did justify that optimism for the future by briefly offering up this line:

“We’re not that far away. We just played the national championship team to the same score the won (the title) by and in the same way, really. We had some good accomplishments in the 2010 season, but obviously the season didn’t end the way we would have liked or anyone else would have liked. We feel good about the program.”

But, outside of that, it was all about the future.  He spoke often about Raymond Sanders and LaRod “The Rod” King and cited them as players ready to make an impact next season.  On the defensive side of the ball, Joker said that “pretty much everyone is coming back”, to which you can make your own assessment.  Through these little nuggets, though, one thing was clear.  To him, the season is over.  Time to move on.  And, with rumors that some of the older players had tuned him out late in the season and a divide between the Phillips and Brooks guys quietly emerged, the stance isn’t surprising.

You aren’t crazy to be disappointed in this season.  There were bad losses, stupid penalties and questionable play calls.  More importantly, the optimism sparked through the past few seasons seemed to die a slow death down the stretch as players appeared to be disinterested and the Cats missed opportunity after opportunity to take the next step on the SEC ladder.  And while Phillips acknowledged he made some tough calls, he said that he won’t be looking back.  He’ll only be looking forward with the group that he has now.  And while dwelling in the past is never good for moving forward, the inability to say that last year wasn’t what he wanted is frustrating.

Just as you aren’t crazy to call the year a disappointment, Phillips wouldn’t be either.  I understand the need to publicly move forward and deflect the negativity to build for the future, but if he and the staff believe privately that this year was anything but that, that’s an issue.  Where’s the harm in calling it what it is?  Even something as simple as “I do not expect my teams to lose more than we win” and then adding that he expects that to happen.  Mitch Barnhart said it after the Compass Bowl.  Why can’t the staff?  I’m still in full support of Phillips as head coach, but let’s hope the optimism for the future is truly deserved and not just an indignant way to deflect the criticism.   

Go Cats.  Operation: Do The Damn Thing starts now.

Article written by Thomas Beisner

54 Comments for Joker Phillips remains confident in the future

  1. BigBlueFan31
    1:13 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    A little less “talk” and a lot more “action” woud be a nice start!!

  2. fattmurray
    1:15 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Operation: Start F***ing Winning Big Games starts now.

  3. yesterdays
    1:15 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    I’d like him to explain the defensive philosophy- Why do we single cover BOTH WR’s on many occasions even though we aren’t blitzing? Why are the safeties so poor at making plays when the ball is in the air? Why did we force so few turnovers? Do we take away the run or pass first?

    Or, is our goal to let the other team have several 8-9 minute clock chewing drives where they convert 100% of their third downs.

  4. fattmurray
    1:16 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Operation: Beat F***ing Tennessee starts now.

  5. Kfund
    1:24 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Contrast this with what Pitt’s new coach said
    Sounds nice, doesn’t it? (I mean if you’re a Pitt fan)

  6. Mr Schwump
    1:31 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Won’t be looking back….so he’ll punt again 4th and 2 from the UT 37?

  7. ashleyjudd'scrotch
    1:31 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    He should change his name -no more Joker.Speaking of Jokes-Raymond Sanders is not D-1 material so we’re hurting there unless he gives others a chance.

  8. Don
    1:31 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Wasn’t he also waxing poetic on how great Morgan newton looked leading up to the Bowl game. Then someone took a Morgan out on Legion field stinking up the joint?

    Coach speak. Politically correct talk.

  9. Don
    1:35 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    They say you have to know where you came from to know where you are going. We know our history, and yet, we’re still forced to repeat it…year after year after year…I will NEVER get jacked for another football season.

    Other than Vandy, we are creeping back to doormat status.

  10. Sheriff Buford T. Justice
    1:36 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    “A Few bounces”??? More like a few completely inexplicable coaching decisions away from winning.

  11. Lincoln Park
    1:38 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    He remains confident “on” the future. Whether he will be confident “in” the future remains to be seen.

  12. Cam Newton
    1:39 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Not to be Mr. Negative Nancy, but we beat the National Champions 3 years ago and nothing has changed since then. So his whole “we barely lost to the National Champions,” point isn’t very valid.

  13. Sheriff Buford T. Justice
    1:42 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Maybe I’m alone, but I really didn’t see much from Sanders all season. I mean, didn’t seem to me like he could ever get more than 2 yards past the line of scrimmage all year. More impressed with Russell personally, too bad he got run off.

  14. Korean Tacos
    1:42 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    I think by “a few bounces” he means “a few bubble screens.”

  15. DavenderCatTheSequel
    1:45 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    What do you expect him to say? Should he be like the fans who bitch & complain every time the play clock gets under 5 seconds?

  16. Lincoln Park
    1:45 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    There’s no excuse for being out-played, out-coached, out-everything by a coachless Big East football team. What a disappointing end to a VERY disappointing year. Why would Cobb even consider staying at this point?

  17. Jonah Hex
    1:47 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Did he have a fiddle in his hand? Sounds a lot like Nero to me.

  18. fball guy
    1:47 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Those bashing Sanders are wrong! The kid is good and will be very good barring injuries. The only difference between him and Locke is Locke is a bit more explosive/fast. Just so you know…

  19. john
    1:48 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Guys, he overachieved! What’s wrong with you? He was quoted in the Herald-Leader as saying to everyone they would only win 4 games and they won 6. Operation Win, right? Two better than what everyone said.

    Operation Delusional is more like it.

  20. Don
    1:58 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Charlie Strong is Joker’s Cal to Pricktino…

    The heat is on, and Charlie is getting it done on the recruiting front etc..We’ll keep Joker around because we’ll have to hear about running off another “likeable” black coach like we did when things were souring with Tubby.

  21. tmc
    2:01 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    What happened to mister cobble in the bowl game?? Was he there?? I was excited to hear he was gonna play and then never heard his name. SO did he not get to play, or was all his hype way over-exaggerated

  22. AJBUK
    2:05 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    18- Locke was good because he was explosive/fast. So if Sanders lacks that, he better bring something big to the table.

  23. T
    2:08 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    21) he’s a freshman, he’s not going to be Nick Fairley in his first college game. That being said, if Cobb leaves you can forget about a winning record next year, this was our “easy” year In The SEC scheduling.

  24. BigBlueCATS!!
    2:09 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    12. Its because of Cam Newton that they won the title.. They didn’t have him three years ago…. so we beat a totally different team three years ago…

  25. Section 133
    2:09 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    I’ve moved on to Operation Gin.

  26. SeoulCat
    2:16 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    #19. You must be the brains behind Operation Complacency.

  27. C'mon Time Warner
    2:23 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    24 — 3 yrs ago was referring to LSU.

    Why are people so upset about the sagging optimism built over the past 4 years? We’ve gone from a couple 7-6’s to 6-7 over 3 years and that’s cause for dropping off? C’mon.

    We will be a better team in 2011 than we were in 2008 and 2009. Mark that down.

  28. voodoodaddy
    2:26 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    This sounds exactly like a Bengals presser and Joker is “lil’ Marvin”. Hey why stand still when you can move backward….

  29. rockatao
    2:26 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Cobble did play and was credited with one solo tackle

  30. ESAD
    2:28 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    24: The team that #12 is referring to is LSU, not Auburn. So, I guess you are correct – not the same team.

  31. C'mon Time Warner
    2:28 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Let’s have some statistics on short, medium, and long pass attempts. I bet we led the SEC in short yardage pass attempts. Hartline was having a really good year, but he was still “Check down Charlie”. I’m sure he was running the play called. Where’s our 12-15 yard pass attempts? How do we compare to Arkansas or any other pro-style offense?

  32. TBone
    2:37 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    BBVA stock is up $1.02 and 11% today. Coincidence?

  33. 3 fan
    2:39 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Joker should petition the NCAA for a 5th OOC game so we can ensure bowl berth’s, cause next year we are gonna SUCK. Where’s our offense going to come from? Our defense is pathetic, special teams is a joke.
    Seriously, UK should be proactive like they did with Gillespie and can Joker. Gruden and Leach are out there. Go get one of them.

  34. DerbyDemon
    2:40 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Well, guys, what do you expect him to say? “We sucked and it’s all my fault.” He sure in hell ain’t gonna’ speak the truth. He’s too busy trying to cover his ass. I rolled my eyes as soon as Jokester wsa named coach-in-waiting. And this season was just the beginning. Next year will be WORSE. I wonder how good the guys he took back the offers from look to him now? Joker is a player’s coach, alright. He’d rather be their buddy than their coach–probably because he’d be better suited as a player. Gonna’ be ugly next year fellers, mark it down.

  35. tmc
    2:45 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    #29 thanks

  36. UK'64
    2:48 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Looks like next year will be another lost year.

  37. Sheriff Buford T. Justice
    2:58 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    I wonder if we can stretch out a Canadian basketball tournament from August all the way until October?

  38. njCat
    3:06 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Don’t know why Joker should get 3 years to show improvement. He’s been recruiting coordinator forever – so the players we got are his doing. He needs to win at least 8 games next year or hit the road. Can’t see it happening though as every playmaker on the team is leaving.

  39. elstie01
    3:11 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Eff Joker and Eff UK football until we get a “real” coach. I actually enjoy watching college football, so not having a season to look forward to next season sucks, but it is what it is. GO DUCKS in 2011.

  40. football sux
    3:13 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    We just played in the worst bowl game in existence and got blown out by a team that had just fired their coach because they stunk so bad, yet Joker is optimistic about the future? Yeah, right.

    We were arguably the worst team in the SEC this year. We were the only SEC team to lose a bowl game, and we’re losing both our best player and our quarterback, and no one on the defense can break 5.0 in the 40 and Joker is optimistic?

    You know what would make me optimistic Joker? Winning some SEC games. That would make me optimistic. Until then, how about you remain pessimistic and scared to death so that so you’ll work your ass off on the recruiting trail. Cuz we need LOTS of good players and you’re not exactly signing many studs…

  41. 10-1 in 1977
    4:10 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    “Operation: Win” should be “Operation: WHEN?”.

  42. Just saying
    4:14 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    40. The SEC lost several games this season, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee lost too. Actually the SEC finished with a 4-5 record in this years bowls. Other than Auburn winning it all, it wasnt impressive at all

  43. Just saying
    4:17 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    but with that said..Joker is not the answer for UK. After telling 3 recruits we dont have room for them, weve had recruits backing out and going to other schools. What was once a top 25 recruiting class is now in the mid-30s, and 85% of our offense is leaving

  44. tbd4567
    4:21 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    small, slow, clueless Defensive linemen 3 deep do not give me confidence in recruiting or development of Defensive Lines;
    Clueless, uninspired, play calling into coverage, does not inspire confidence in the quarterback’s development or the coach’s package;
    Receivers that must stop and turn around to catch a pass does not inspire confidence in recruiting or development of receivers;
    Offensive Linemen that cannot stop an SEC rush or perform a down field block and backfields that cannot use a down field block do not inspire confidence in the program or recruiting.

    What else is there to recommend Joker or his staff. If they had not been there for 6 years already, I would say give them a chance to recruit their people. They have and it is just getting worse.

  45. Irwin R. Fletcher
    4:29 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    The sky is falling (seriously, take cover)

  46. BigBlueCATS!!
    4:51 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    woops i must of seen the cam newton thing and thought you were talking about Auburn my bad!

  47. bluetexan
    4:52 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    If Barnfart is so determined to keep Joker, both need to change their ‘meds’. The ‘top recruiter’ that Joker is supposed to be certainly hasn’t proven to be accurate…the teams aren’t getting better. Of course, there’s that “little” issue of coaching the recruits…let’s examnine – nope, the recruits aren’t getting SEC-calibre coaching. FREE MIKE LEACH! (Now!)

  48. blueman80
    5:02 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    33- Gruden or Leach. Neither will come down here. Barnhart is committed to Joker so dream on bud. I don’t see it getting easier for UK next season. The QB race will be a mystery.
    This is where the QB’s stand now

    Morgan Newton – Hopefully he will step it up and finally improve on his accuracy. For now, MN can’t hit his wide open receivers and over throws consistently. Poor defense recognition. I haven’t see his arm strength at all and everytime he throws deep, I cringe because the ball wobbles a lot, not a good spiral. Tends to use his legs more than arms.

    Moss – Still learning but zero experience. If coach says his arm is weaker than Newtons, then I am really confused. I thought this guy had a gun of an arm coming out of high school, unless the surgery messed it up but he seems more of a pro style QB than MN and his football IQ is good. I hope his arm strength improves, then we will def have a good QB race.

    Max Smith- He is the question mark. I don’t see him starting because of zero inexperience like Moss and I have a feeling the staff will red shirt him like they do with all incoming Qb’s. He has been coached by a former NFL QB and is good at recognizing defenses but then again we are talking the SEC.

    Either way, our QB situation is def an area of concern and our O-line. Can’t afford to be manhandled against Pitt

  49. Dano
    5:23 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    Moss and Smith will not see the field unless Newton is injured, suspended or transfers.

    Lets hope Hartline takes him out to celebrate finals.

  50. yabba do
    5:58 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    -Our defense is athletic but they’re as tenacious as a cotton ball. Rock Oliver needs to step up his game.
    -Moss must be given every opportunity to lead this team. I can’t withstand another minute of watching Newton.
    -Our coach needs to realize he’s the CEO of UK football, not a coach of the local Pop Warner team.
    -The administration is a joke. They have no idea how to build a winning SEC football program. Will they ever invest in the program like the other SEC members? There hand must be forced.
    -Our band hasn’t had a leader that understands their importance on gameday in over 15 years. Is it really asking too much to have a band on par with Tennessee? Bring back the guy that left for Arkansas.
    -The Catwalk looks like it was organized by the team mothers of any local county highschool in the South. This isn’t acceptable for a Southeastern Conference football program. Why isn’t the band involved with the Catwalk?
    -Kentucky football and all it encompasses needs to be reinvented. It’s past time for this school to get serious about this game. Everything on this list needs to addressed and brought up to SEC standards.

  51. Andy
    6:31 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    seems like a couple of folks seem to be throwing out Mike Leach’s name. For the last time people, UK us not getting a new coach anytime soon. Mitch is committed to Joker for at least 2 more seasons IMO. If Mitch can’t help with funding or invest for the football team, then this is where we will be, a 6-7 team at best. I don’t know what the hold up or why its so difficult to get some sort of significant investment. I would gladly donate as much I could to help the program. Bottom line is, other schools invest, even Vanderbilt was willing to pay Gus Malzahn. UK has some issues for sure.

  52. Compassbowlian
    7:41 pm January 12, 2011 Permalink

    We will definitely be better next season. The defense was incredibly young. They will all get bigger, stronger, and greatly improve their ability to react correctly. That makes a huge difference. The offense will be fine. People may not like his play calling for some reason but first as coordinator and now as head coach Joker has consistently managed decent point totals.

  53. RJS
    8:53 am January 13, 2011 Permalink

    “Have you seen Ramon Sanders and LaRod King?”

  54. Lou eaton
    9:14 am January 13, 2011 Permalink

    Having a five star QB sitting on the pine is not an easy thing for fans to understand AND frankly, it may send a message to other high profile players considering signing with UK….kicking a FG when you are two TDs down with 8 minutes to go in the game??????