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Kentucky Football is on the Clock


Mitch Barnhart made the right move to announce, three weeks before the end of the season, that Joker Phillips would not be back at UK next season. While *Tennessee, Auburn, and Arkansas still have decisions or formal announcements to make, Kentucky now has a chance to make a good hire before their league rivals have the chance to do so. Kentucky needed something to give them an edge over the other SEC teams who are likely to be hiring new coaches as well. The edge Kentucky has given themselves is time. Time is on the Cats side, and if they want to fully take advantage of being the only available BCS job in the country at this time, they should set an anticipated start date of early December. 

[*Edit: Derek Dooley reportedly out at Tennessee, but there has yet to be a formal announcement]

Many think UK has enough young, talented players to have the chance to be good next year if healthy. There are a lot of “if’s” involved, but if they get the right coach, keep current talent on the roster, and settle with the right quarterback as the starter going forward, there is a chance of the new era of Kentucky football starting out successfully. The first step in winning next year is to get the new staff to Lexington in December. Not only would this help with the continuity of the program, but it pressures some of the top coaching targets to consider jumping on the UK job before other school’s jobs may open up.

Whether UK hires a former head coach not currently coaching anywhere (I’ll let you throw out these names in the comments section), or a hot, up-and-coming coordinator, there isn’t much reason why a decision has to wait much further into the middle of December. The longer UK waits, the less coaches they will have to choose from as the coaching carousel becomes more clear. At this time, UK should aim for the top coordinators in the college game, and yes, take a look at a couple of coaches who may not be coaching at the moment. These are the coaches who Kentucky could realistically hire as soon as possible and start to move forward into next season with a staff in place.

An offensive or defensive coordinator could theoretically agree to terms before their season is over, finish coaching the remaining regular season games, and elect not to call plays in their team’s upcoming bowl game. A current head coach somewhere may also elect not to coach in a bowl game if they took the Kentucky job, but it’s unlikely you are going to have much contact with a head coach until their regular season is over. If the regular season ends, and UK has still not found the right guy for the job, then at that point I think Barnhart should open up the search to NFL coaches and talk more with current college coaches. At this time, Kentucky’s focus should probably be (and probably is) on the top college coordinators (young, full of energy, connected in recruiting, and with a track record of success) who are looking to be a head coach and willing to pull the trigger early and get to work in Lexington as soon as possible. By no means should Kentucky settle for someone early in the process, but the strongest candidate they may be able to hire could be before other schools come into the picture.

Article written by John Wilmhoff

Former beer vendor, college mascot and ESPN editor. This spring, you can also find me blogging about the Reds on Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWilmhoff

63 Comments for Kentucky Football is on the Clock

  1. first
    9:32 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    First! And hire Patrino!

  2. UKNation
    9:32 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    well, aren’t I first

  3. UKNation
    9:33 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    that would be a no

  4. Double Entendre
    9:35 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Hire Bobby!! And it’s spelled Petrino!

  5. flysoup
    9:35 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Man, KSR has become pretty tone deaf as it pertains to the Petrino situation. It’s pretty obvious he’s the fans’ choice, get on the bus. Use your position as a popular UK fan voice!

  6. Chad
    9:36 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    No…..I want petrino

  7. flysoup
    9:37 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    PS…..this is a pretty terrible post. Pretty much adds nothing no one else could have added to the coaching search discussion.

  8. Bobby P
    9:37 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    THE BEST OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND BEST AVAILABLE HEAD COACH. KSR get on board guys! I mean what is the deal? Don’t let this University settle for mediocre like the past.

  9. Rubio
    9:37 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Damn!!! Can we hire Bobby already!!

  10. Mikey
    9:38 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    COME ON KSR!!!! GIVE IT UP!!! You’all have been dancing around this all day. Talk about it and get it over with!

  11. Double Entendre
    9:39 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Just put a no motorcycle clause in his contract.

  12. FedUp
    9:39 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Why wait until December? Hire Petrino now, and let him start getting everything together!

  13. Off subject
    9:40 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Ever notice how the sports center intro shows ALL of last years champs in every sport (even Nascar) but not the cats??? Man I think they are still haters…

  14. petrinofan
    9:42 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    This post is exactly what we did. We hired the hot offensive coordinator in 2006 and put him in waiting. Now look at what we have. 1 win. Come on. Hire petrino. Go a route that we know will work. Hire petrino. Maybe uk football baggage and petrino baggage can be long in the past. You do that by winning! This isn’t social work.
    Go hire the proven winner! That is petrino

  15. ashley shafer
    9:42 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    petrino petrino petrino

  16. Yep
    9:42 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Bobby Petrino. How is this not obvious?

  17. FedUp
    9:43 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    I hope that the people that try to derail Petrino to UK do not think that “the real UK football fans” will forget.

  18. SeaCat
    9:43 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    John Wth,???
    was that?

    Roll the dice, shoot for Petrino!

    We would be Lucky to get him!!! Barny pull the trigger…

  19. Han
    9:44 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    The problem with current coordinators is the same problem with Joker, and somewhat like the problem with Gillispie. If they don’t have several years of experience as a Head Coach (Gillispie did, but never more than 3 years in a location), you don’t know if they can cut it. You may get the next big thing and they may show you loyalty for giving them their shot. Or maybe you get the next guy who can’t run a program himself. Can Kentucky afford to take that risk right now? Fan support is very low, and if you don’t make a big splash hire for Football, fans may not come back (at least not until there’s real success, which is harder without fan support).

  20. Uncle Buck
    9:45 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Such a hard hitting article. You literally just said what any moonshined UK fan already knows. Go hang out with BTI.

  21. Uncle JEAN, Harv's favorite
    9:48 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    I see there’s a good chance Cal is headed to LA. Breaking news on espn. This can’t happen. Cal is our man!!!

  22. Fecesforbrains
    9:49 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    — Has a track record of trash talking the Cats during his time at Louisville, including the infamous “Louisville 28, Slapd!cks nothing. I f*&$ing love it, those little smurfs didn’t even score a point” comment after Louisville’ win over UK in 2004.

    I still think that statement was funny as 7734 took huge [email protected] and us what is needed in our program now .. Bill Curry proved choir boys can’t win in the SEC … With that said lets turn papa john into papa smurf !!! Hire the man and let’s start the turnaround tomorrow afternoon

  23. Petrino
    9:49 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Is KSR scared of me or just as out of touch with the fans as the administration is?

  24. Double Entendre
    9:51 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Poetic just…irony…symmetry…bazarro world…pitino…petrino…let it be so…let it be done…

  25. Head Bussa
    9:51 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    22 — Thanks for that, Mikey. That made me freakin’ fired up! Oh God, please make this come true! Bobby Petrino at UK will put me on cloud nine.

  26. Double Entendre
    9:51 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink


  27. thenamerobdigity
    9:54 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    We should have Johnny C and Bobby P !!!!!!!!!!!1

  28. Shut up
    9:57 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    25 go troll somewhere else. Phil Jackson is back with the Lakers and Brian Shaw second choice.

  29. Have to go to work
    9:58 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Matt, post already

  30. hmmm
    9:59 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    does anyone else know why KSR is so biased against a Petrino hire?

  31. BB
    10:01 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Saw that on Vaught’s site too, Mikey. Really starting to get my hopes up. Don’t know what’s up with KSR. Never thought I would, but starting to buy into the whole “Matt is Mitch’s mouthpiece” thing. Seems like KSR is really trying to downplay the Petrino talk. Petrino is 75-26 at two BCS schools, and 12-4 in the SEC his last two years at Ark. in the toughest division in the toughest conference in CFB. Enough said! So what if he’s hard to work with…didn’t Lincoln put together a “Team of rivals”?? Considering he kept the country together and is considered by most our best President ever, that turned out pretty good. Hire Petrino Now!!

  32. BigCuz
    10:03 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    The post says UK should take a look at offensive coordinators and former head coaches who are not currently coaching (like Petrino). I don’t think anything was said against hiring Petrino in this post. It was just talking about the time-frame Kentucky should be working on to get the best hire, and that is quick!

  33. Mikey
    10:04 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    AGREED 37!!! I really wish they would post this “coaching information” they have soon. I need to go to bed. 6:15 comes pretty early in the morning.

  34. Fecesforbrains
    10:06 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Lincoln also was forced to share a bed and room with another msn shortly after law school , least it wasn’t a hot young blonde … Or he’d never made the white house

  35. Vinny
    10:06 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    KSR is to UK sports what Fox News is to the Republican party. All of the posts are ignoring the educated fan input in favor of a ridiculous narrative. You guys even go so far as to not even mention Petrino by name. I’ve heard at least a couple women who get all their info from KSR who scram we want Sonny! Ask Tennessee how success at Louisiana Tech translates to the SEC. If memory serves KSR was also against Calipari even though he was clearly the best coach.

  36. J A Brooks
    10:07 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Pretty sure Matt Jones didn’t write this post… not sure why all the hate is going his way.

    Petrino would be a great, but risky, hire. He most likely won’t stay long as he has a record for thinking the grass is always greener elsewhere.

    All the fans that think any coordinator or young coach would be a terrible hire know nothing about the history of football coaches.

  37. tdogg40330
    10:08 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    44) I’m for Petrino to UK, but Dooley really didnt have that much success at La Tech …

  38. mikey1286
    10:13 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    A coordinator could be successful at UK. Now with that being said, I think this is a tough job for an unproven coordinator due to the circumstances that surround UK with other programs in the SEC. Yea Muschamp has done a great job at Florida coming in as a coordinator, but that program has every advantage concievable over us. I just think when there is a proven commodity out there for the taking, why not go get him!

  39. Wildcatsteeler
    10:14 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    That’s really thinking big. Lets focus on unproven coordinators. With 3 better SEC coaching jobs about to open our prospects are very, very slim. If we want a good, proven coach we will have to take a chance on Petrino. It’s as simple as that. If he stays just 3 years it’ll be worth it.

  40. Wildcatsteeler
    10:15 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    #43 You mean like Joker Phillips?

  41. Bigbluestorm
    10:19 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Everybody says their worried about auburn getting Petrino, Chiznik has a contract with them that has quite afew yrs left on it that will cost them 10 million if they fire him or buy him out,so dont think Auburns in the running for Petrino.

  42. Keinow
    10:19 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    SEAN PAYTON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. Wildcatfanforever
    10:20 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

  44. MLB
    10:20 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Ridiculous post!

  45. Keinow
    10:21 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    We need another High Caliber Coach Like Calipari… I say pay SEAN PAYTON and bring him in as the football ambassador for UK

  46. Kevin
    10:21 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    UK Football got more baggage than Petrino. UK is risky for Petrino too

  47. coach search
    10:34 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Guys, listen, Matt has to keep his mouth shut. He already knows who the next coach will will be. He will break the news soon.

    I have on good authority from my second cousin twice removed who used to run the Quayle stop rest area off I 470 in arkansas. Patrino’s used car salesman is shipping a new F 150 pick up to the farm his agent purchased for him in Anderson co.

  48. Vinny
    10:35 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Agree with 55! We haven’t had a good head coach since Bear Bryant . Then his successor Collier was the only coach after him with a record above .500. Of choose most of us don’t remember these guys. They were gone for 20 years before I was even born.

  49. JetsFireRyan
    10:39 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Can’t wait

  50. Rumor mill
    10:45 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    I keep hearing one name is a former Super Bowl winning coach and now an announcer and that it is not Jon Gruden. All I can think of is Brian Billick.

  51. Jonv4ky
    11:38 pm November 11, 2012 Permalink

    Everyone coach considered will be compared against what Bobby does if UK does not hire him.

  52. chief_cat
    2:15 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Want a lightning rod that would bring 4 and 5 star recruits to UK by the droves? A guy who has forgotten more football that most will ever know? A guy with unmatched passion and someone who ESPN, et al will line up to cover? Hire a completely untested yet likely to succeed guy. Hire Ray Lewis!!!

  53. Realist
    5:41 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    It sounds as if KSR thinks we can get a coach of Petrio’s caliber without the baggage associated with him. Lets be serious for a second, what proven, high Caliber coach, would want to coach at a school with only one win this year? Any coach like this is going to have way better options. We need a home run and Petrino looks like our best option.

  54. Ted Nugent
    6:28 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    TED FOR PREZ!!!!!

  55. Section 135
    6:31 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Leopard can’t change it’s spots. Whoever hires Petrino will regret it within 24 months. HIRE KLIFF KINGSBURY!!! Did any of you notice what A&M’s offense has done this year? Houston last year?

  56. MattHatesPetrinoSoHARD
    7:49 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Congratulations to Matt for getting thru the ENTIRE first question without any anti-Petrino sentiment. The second question did cause him to reveal his true colors when he started talking about ‘ulterior motives’, I don’t think that was directed at Fulmer.

  57. She think me tractor attractive
    8:09 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Either hire Bobby Petrino or Pete Rose

  58. Mess038
    8:40 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    She’s in 2nd place. Vote for Ashley!

  59. how about
    10:55 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    How ya doinVinny?
    Every one knows the Bear Bryant story, supposed competition with Coach Rupp drove the only guy who made us matter Natiionaly away.
    My Dad took me to some games during Blanton Colliers the stands I heard words that when I repeated them at home got a Dial soap mouth cleaning. Next time I saw Coach Collier was on television coaching the NFL champs Cleveland Browns.

  60. how about
    10:58 am November 12, 2012 Permalink

    A Is Tim Coach getting to help in the coaching search?

  61. John
    11:58 am November 12, 2012 Permalink


  62. Ben Fletcher
    1:45 pm November 12, 2012 Permalink

    Our AD should have had qualified candidates on his list at the end of last year. College football is a business and the AD should always have a list ready. Petrino would be a disaster…he absolutely cares about no one but himself.

    Since our AD apparently doesn’t want Mikle Leach, it appears Sonny Dykes should be the hire. He was at UK with Mumme and some tell me our AD doesn’t want any connection to Mumme. Dykes has the pedigree and a spread offense system and he wins.

  63. mickey mantle
    7:50 am November 13, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah they should hire Bobby Petrino!!!