Kentucky Basketball is such a hard act to follow. After such a great season by that program, Wildcats fans are now conditioned to see a winner donning the Kentucky blue. Instead, next up is a rebuilding football team, struggling to find its identity. After an 32-31 overtime loss to Western Kentucky, the pressure on head coach Joker Phillips to win games is going to increase tremendously. But, with a daunting SEC schedule ahead, it’s hard to find exactly where those wins will come from this season. Previous Kentucky Football regimes faced a hardship point too, but eventually they found their way to a winning football. It’s going to take time for Phillips to reach the successes of his predecessors, but, similiar to them, there were dark days before the successes came. These are Phillips’ dark days.
(From Joker’s contract, read the entire contract here.)
With Phillips signed through December 31, 2014, and Kentucky responsible for his contract through that time, it’s tough to hire a new head coach. Hiring a new guy wouldn’t immediately change Kentucky’s fortunes. It will take time for the new coach to be able to recruit, develop players, and ultimately, win. Paying both Phillips and a new guy wouldn’t make much sense when you aren’t getting an immediate return on your investment. Mitch Barnhart’s has a tough decision coming up after this season, but the financials might have already made the decision for him.
Also, who is a better hire? Names like Bobby Petrino and Mike Leach aren’t realistic options. Actually, there aren’t many options around the country that would leave their current position to coach at Kentucky, and there aren’t many great names out of jobs, either. People realize the nature of the SEC beast, and the lack of talent to recruit out of this state and that is a tough selling point to a ton of coaches. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out, but it looks like slim pickings out there.