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Mitch Barnhart: “Joker’s one of my dearest friends”

The fine folks at cn|2 posted this video of Mitch Barnhart speaking at the City Salesmen’s Club luncheon in Louisville on Tuesday, in which Barnhart talked about the football program and his friendship with Joker Phillips. On Kentucky’s performance this season, Mitch said:

“Football is not where we want it to be just yet and we’ve got to work on that. We made some progress and climbed up the hill a little bit and we’re doing some good things in a really tough league but we’ve found that we’ve stubbed our toes a little bit. We’ve got to figure that out and we’ll get that figured out.”

Mitch follows that by saying that Joker is one of his dearest friends and that he “thinks the world of him,” referencing their 9-year partnership at UK. When it comes to business? “We just have to figure out the football piece and how we get that going in the right direction.”

Make of this what you will. Personally, I’d like to know what “good things” the Cats are doing in the SEC right now, because I can’t think of a single thing.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

66 Comments for Mitch Barnhart: “Joker’s one of my dearest friends”



  1. BLUE BLY
    11:49 am November 1, 2012 Permalink

    He needs to find another cupcake job for Joker at UK and do what needs to be done. Win win……keep Joker, save face, get a new coach that can get the fans back!!!



  2. lexslamman
    11:51 am November 1, 2012 Permalink

    UK has a football team? Really?



  3. chris
    11:54 am November 1, 2012 Permalink

    It sounds like he is making a case to keep Joker. Surely to God this can’t happen?



  4. wildcat502
    11:55 am November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I`ve said this many times and I will say this again. Joker isnt going anywhere. They may change a coordinator, but the head coach will remain the same. Get use to the offense running east/west, instead of north/south, 3 yard dump offs and draw plays on 3rd and 15, because they will return next year and possibly set the football team back another 3 to 4 years.
    The administration and big donors does not worry about football. I`m 51, a football fan, as well as the other sports and I have seen this my entire life. Nothing will ever change with Kentucky atheletics.



  5. barn
    11:57 am November 1, 2012 Permalink

    sounds like joker will be back



  6. fake random guy
    12:00 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    will not be surprised if Joker stays…Mitch pushed for Brooks to leave so his dear friend Joker could take over…he is too spineless to fire Joker



  7. Booger
    12:06 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Joker is the man- give him time



  8. Vette72
    12:06 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Made some progress. Really? Climbed the hill. Really? Did some good things. Really?
    What the hell are you smoking?
    Put that friendship thing aside, Mitch. If not, get rid of your sorry ass too



  9. kramer
    12:13 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    When I saw this I took it as there is a chance Joker will be back next year, if that happens they might as well just scrap the season, IMO. If Mitch doesn’t at least call Bobby Petrino he is a FOOL,I love UK and am a fan of both Basketball and Football and want both to be good. Bobby P gives UK at least a punchers chance to compete in the SEC!



  10. not mitch
    12:14 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Hearing through a source close to athletics that announcement of Joker leaving will come by end of weekend. Seriously. no coach named then just that search is beginning.



  11. not mitch
    12:15 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    should have said end of next weekend, as in by nov 11. Also heard that former UNC coach may be a target



  12. JPhelps
    12:16 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch is leaning on the basketball success to keep “his friend” in the football seat. Maybe Brett Dawson was right. It may be Joker on the sidelines next year. I think Barnhart is gambling quite a bit here…

    I along with almost everyone I know, want Joker gone. I can only see a few reasons Barnhart wouldn’t pull the trigger this year. 1) Barnhart could not want to go up against UT for a big name because it looks like Dooley is going out too 2) Cutcliff and/or Barnhart’s wish list (whoever that may be) may not be interested in a low level SEC project that may never get to 10 wins. 3) Barnhart and Joker really are that tight and Mitch made up his mind no matter how bad things got to give Joker 4 years… That’s all I got. And it still isn’t much. A sane AD has to get rid of Joker after what feasibly is a 1-11 to 2-10 season.

    Here is a very likely situation next year if Joker is on the sideline. A “complete” fan boycott of games (less than 25% attendance)… Which is something the University won’t ignore. And something that would eventually put Mitch on the hot seat. We are about to see just how made of iron Mitch’s balls truly are!



  13. Rex Chapmans Calves
    12:16 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I THINK ITS TIME TO SHOW BOTH THESE CLOWNS THE DOOR!!!!!



  14. SteveM
    12:16 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Barnhart is an idiot.



  15. T Rowe
    12:25 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Always love the guy with the “close source”. That is truly one of my favorite things and always gets me to literally lol. That aside, the way we didn’t mentioned Joker going forward lends me to believe this will be it for him.



  16. Bowl man
    12:25 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch is a joke of an AD. All he cares about is the SEC t.v. money to pay for his other sports. He is simply the worst. I would love to see Mitch leave more than Joker. At least Joker is a likable guy you wish could succeed. Mitch is an arrogant “bean” counter that is 100% out of touch with the fan base. You would think getting blown out every week in front of a half empty stadium would be a pretty big clue. “We have stubbed our toes a little bit”? Are you serious?!



  17. Dan the man
    12:29 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Ya’ll need to give Mitch a break. He did bring in Billy Gillespie to lead us back to national prominence.



  18. Come on
    12:32 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    If he stays: They will loss ANOTHER 10-15K season ticket sales! Looking at next yrs schedule and the plys coming back – 3-9 at Best. Second. Joker only has a four yr contract that is thru next year. Sooo you’re going to extend that Mitch…or let him coach and TRY to recruit with no contract beyond that current year.
    Mitch, my friend, the deck is SOOO stacked against you. you have ZERO choice.
    FIRE JOKER. If you don’t then he will be fired next year, or recruiting will be even worst thatn 2-3 stars AND YOU will be fired and no school will pick you up because of the Cluster F$%@ you left the UK football program. Oh and Mitch Football is the budget maker in all school…

    FIRE hime, spend some money, let’s win some games and THEN THE REOVATIONS WILL COME not before..Losers make excuses Mitch winner go home and well you know what they do and with whom…Homecoming Queen



  19. Close Source
    12:36 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I didn’t tell #10 that rumor. But I can tell you that the National Champion UK Basketball team plays tonight. Don’t let that leak too far though. sssssshhhhh!



  20. Mike Phillips
    12:37 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Well, one thing,s for sure, if Barnhart ever wants a new gig he’s pretty good at shoveling bull**** so maybe a job on a farm would be more to his liking.



  21. BBN
    12:39 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    There is NO way mitch can bring back joker, NO WAY.

    This topic pizzes me off to no end. If a CEO allowed one of his VPs to run a lucrative division of the company into the ground year over year, the BOD would remove that VP and that CEO. It is beyond belief that mitch has been allowed let his ‘friendship’ interfere with this important decision. Do you think any REAL ADs out there would bat an eye at firing their ‘friend’ if he ran a program into the ground? Nope, only ours (mitch).



  22. GagMe
    12:41 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Text sent from Mitch to Joker: “I’ve been thinking about you a lot. A WHOLE LOT.”

    Before I read this article I couldn’t see any way that Joker would be around for one more season, but now it becomes obvious that Mitch is enamored with Joker way beyond X’s and O’s on the football field. IF he stays another year, I wonder how many players will transfer out? Imagine how bare the cupboard will be for the next coach in line. There won’t be any scholarship restrictions, but the lack of quality depth will rival what Brooks had waiting for him.



  23. joke
    12:42 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    #7 -said no one..ever



  24. RealCatsFan
    12:42 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    #20, or a high ranking position in government…



  25. MrG
    12:44 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Sadly, this means that it’s time for Mitch to hit the road, too. There are no reasons at all to retain Joker. This is entirely Jokers team and these assistant coaches are Joker’s as well. Brooks told Joker who to keep and Joker ignored him. These kids on the field can play and if they were well coached we would see a much better product. But our coaching is the worst I’ve ever seen. There might be some strange logic to retaining Joker but only as a non-participating figurehead because there isn’t anyone on the sidelines that I would trust to coach my children or anyone else’s.



  26. not mitch
    12:44 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    just saying. guaranteed Joker isn’t coming back. Money in place for contract payout from supporters. And a plan will be addressed with new coach to ensure a facilities upgrade. Not sure what those are or could involve, but it’s on the table with discussions.



  27. RealCatsFan
    12:45 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    “stubbed our toe”? What this team has done is more in the direction of total amputation of the whole foot!



  28. Matt Hobbie
    12:52 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Wow it sure pays to be one of Mitch’s buddies. We may be the laughing stock of college football but no matter as long as you are a dear friend your ok. I bet Joker’s wife tells him “you keep kissing Barney’s butt and we keep getting paid”. Mtch needs to pull a George Costanza and have a handy man re-decorate under his desk to make it more comfortable while hiding.



  29. KSRTroll
    12:58 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    DAMN IT KSR! STOP DEFENDING JOKER! YOU’RE JUST A MOUTHPIECE FOR…oh…wait…never mind then. Carry on…



  30. Cats in the NBA
    12:59 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch makes me nervous. He hired BCG and JP… how much frickin worse has there EVER been than that in the entire history of the NCAA?



  31. Green River 46
    1:00 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Joker, if he loves UK, he would do the right thing, and quit, before his good friend would have to fire him. I would not want any of my friends to be worry over this.



  32. tyson
    1:04 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    #26 is correct. Joker is gone at the end of the season. Mitch is telling people that money will really not be an object to hire a new coach, but he is afraid big names will not be interested. Petrino WILL NOT be offered. Expect Sonny Dykes.



  33. MEEKSUPERFAN
    1:08 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    ERIC MANGINI
    ERIC MANGINI
    ERIC MANGINI



  34. Mike Phillips
    1:11 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I’d like to be one of Barnharts dear friends, and get paid a ridiculous sum for doing a crappy job. Wouldnt we all? Jokers got one win to show for the 1.7 million dollars he,s supposed to make this year. Even Bill Curry thinks thats mind boggling.



  35. slappy
    1:15 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    “The football piece” = nails on a chalkboard. Ugh, what terrible wording.



  36. wildcat502
    1:26 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    A big name coach would be afraid to come to Kentucky. They know our background, we are the northern most university in the SEC which makes recruiting the south difficult (Cold air isnt liked down south), the northern high school players arent as good as the southern kids (Ohio St versus Florida for 2 years in a row), big name boosters and adminstration will not back the football program as they do basketball, old outdated facilities (embarassing recruiting facilities), no in state recruiting base. I could go on and on, with more thought. Most are affraid Kentucky would “hurt” their name and keep them from bigger jobs down the road or “kill” their coaching careers.
    I`m a huge Kentucky fan, but this is not a job that would interest big names. Now………….we may get a big name, if up graded facilities within a year or 2 is added to their contracts. This, along with blue prints, would help in recruiting.
    Maybe we should try to get a coach and assistants who has connections in the north and south for recruiting. Ohio State, Cincinnati, the Michigan schools and Notre Dame are strong holds in the Cincy area, so I`m not convinced that is an area we sould recruit in



  37. Jimi
    1:27 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Jokes back next year…..will curious to see how all this plays out.



  38. TCBMan
    1:34 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Barnfart is a flaming idiot. There is no way we can keep Joker. If Barnfart does not get rid of Joker then he needs to go.



  39. Dolfan66r
    1:35 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Barnhart is to blame for naming a coach in waiting and forcing Brooks out. So Joker is one of his closest friends than by all means leave with him. Since he hired Joker maybe he can get the Riddler and the Penguin to the the new coordinators next year!!!



  40. Dolfan66r
    1:37 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Barnhart would probably go hire Derek Dooley when he gets fired!!!



  41. Bigcat76
    1:37 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    “Personally, I’d like to know what “good things” the Cats are doing in the SEC right now, because I can’t think of a single thing.”
    1. Staying out of Alabama’s way so as not to mess things up for them.



  42. Uncle Pappy
    1:38 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    The sad fact is that, left to his own devices, Mitch Barnhart has completely failed on coaching hires for the revenue sports. In basketball, he was too concerned about whispers to hire Calipari the first time around. Kentucky was too good for Calipari and we did not have to hire someone with a supposed taint. So, he conducted the due diligence of a 3rd grader and hired BCG. When he had to hire a basketball coach the second time, he had no choice but to go to Cal because he could not whiff a second time. So, his supposedly high minded stance went by the wayside. In football, the Brooks hire was neither good nor smart for the long term success of the football program. Coach Brooks is a great teacher and managed to get us competitive against a soft non-conference schedule and in a difficult league. However, he was not the hire we needed and we would have been far better off to get an up and coming coach who could have built for the long term. The Joker Phillips hire was obviously made by someone who does not understand the game of football. Barnhart has done reasonably well in the sports that do not matter. For that he deserves some credit. However, success as an athletic director is based on the calls in the money sports. Left on his own to make a choice, Barnhart has done nothing to justify his continued employment at Kentucky. Even if he does pull the plug on Joker, I have no confidence that he will hire a decent coach to replace him. Get ready for the Fat Phil era in Lexington.



  43. Dolfan66r
    1:41 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Or Ron Zook, Bob Davie, Houston Nutt, Tyrone Willingham, Steve Kragthorpe, Randy Shannon, etc



  44. Computer Blue
    1:43 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    In most places cronyism is frowned upon and possibly grounds for firing. Mitch should not be good buddies with his employees. I’m sure Joker is a great drinking buddy, but he can’t coach football.



  45. Dolfan66r
    1:46 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Get ready for the high powered offense from David Cutcliffe UGH



  46. Dolfan66r
    1:47 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Barnhart and Calipari dont even speak to each other.



  47. Dolfan66r
    1:49 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    #7 – with a handle like Booger you would know how to pick em. How much time would Joker need? 20 years?



  48. BigCat76
    1:51 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    49. Awesome



  49. Dave in Bangkok
    1:53 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    “In most places cronyism is frowned upon and possibly grounds for firing. Mitch should not be good buddies with his employees. I’m sure Joker is a great drinking buddy, but he can’t coach football.”

    Exactly, I thought cronyism was considered corruption. I guess not if your the UK Football Coach with a 1-8 record. Then it’s just good business.



  50. knightynight
    2:11 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Give him one more year. Youngest team in America and the hardest schedule does not equal many wins….it will come and there are many bright spots.



  51. Wild Blue
    2:11 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Move Joker to coaching the Disc Golf team and hire a real football coach. That way, Mitch, you can take care of your good ole buddy and we can hopefully have a real football team.



  52. aja
    2:38 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    We’re better than this.



  53. Steve
    2:59 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    If Mitch chooses friendship over what is in the best interest of UK Football then I will join an all out war against Mitch.

    I have been a big time supporter of Mitch, but if he keeps Joker then Mitch must also go!



  54. catlogic15
    3:00 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    #32. You and others don’t understand the business side of this. If Jokes resigns, he forfeits the remaining 1.7 million on his contract. No idiot would do that. If he’s fired, he gets the full payout on his contract. What would you do?



  55. Vette72
    3:05 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    53 . What do you have against the Disc Golf team?



  56. Unknown Fan
    3:06 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    #29 Sadly,we are not.I have said Joker will retain his position all along. No way BarnFart fires his buddy this year.Strong let his foot off Chokers throat and saved his job.Now Strong can chalk up one gimme game for 2013.
    I’ll wager BrainFart is getting ZERO response from ANY coach willing to come to UK.



  57. Unknown Fan
    3:07 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry meant #54….not #29



  58. UKfan4life
    3:08 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Any chance that Rich Brooks would come back? Would UK even ask him to come back? he could build us back up again… we’re going to have a good team next year regardless who the coach is. i wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Phil Fulmer… He can win and I bet he has a fire in his belly to prove to the Tennessee folks that they shouldn’t have run him out of town!



  59. Chuck
    3:17 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I totally agree with #13, 14, 20, 25 and hope #26 is right. If nothing happens maybe the head of the snake ought to be cut off first, former dentist turned college president. The UK football fans have been too loyal and have paid out too much money over the years to put up with this type of leadership.



  60. SEC Doormat
    3:25 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Oh GOODY!!! Now I will always have a home in Lexington!!!



  61. Steve
    3:45 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Tell Mitch your thoughts on UK Football.

    Unless he changed it this is his e-mail address from the UK website……. [email protected]



  62. kymover
    5:38 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I just don’t get it, we don’t let basketball slide so why do we let football be such loser. Somebody tell me what the difference is. I thought that once in my life time that UK would just have a winning program once.
    I have waited 50 years for uk to have a team that rivials the big boys in the SEC.
    Please don’t let Mitch become Cal’s friend.



  63. SevenT
    8:00 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Barnhart is certainly loyal, but when you compare three schools in the SEC that are showing momentum because of good Coaching and compare to Joker you just got to scratch your head. Look at three Football Programs:

    Mullen Mississippi State
    Franklin Vandy
    Freeze Ole Miss

    These three coaches are new head coaches and are having success in the SEC and they are on equal footing with Kentucky in terms of facilities, budgets etc. We have a lack of leadership in Kentucky Football and as fans we deserve better.



  64. lex_man34
    10:03 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I agree with Mitch. After all we do have a pretty good punter. :p