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Names on the radar

Okay Big Blue Nation, we know you’re unhappy. Joker Phillips has disappointed you and many others of the Wildcat faithful throughout his tenure as head football coach. Staying neutral in the debate — Joker offers plenty of positives to the program. For starters, we saw a glimpse of all that talented youth we keep hearing about against South Carolina. Joker has played a ton of freshmen so far, and injuries are forcing him to use even more. Twelve true freshmen have seen action this season, and of Kentucky’s 80 scholarship players, 55 are freshmen or sophomores. Kentucky has one of the youngest teams in college football. Jalen Whitlow, Dyshawn Mobley, Demarcus Sweat, A.J. Legree and Cody Quinn are just a few of the names making a statement.

However, there is the whole losing a lot of games thing that has fans understandably upset. So hypothetically speaking, if a coaching change were to happen, what are some of the names that may be considered? Because it’s hard to assume a current head coach will want to be pulled away from his job, Kentucky may be looking at top-name assistants. Lucky for us, before the season began Yahoo Sports assembled a list of the top soon-to-be head coaches, in no particular order.

Manny Diaz (Texas defensive coordinator)
— Bud Foster (Virginia Tech defensive coordinator)
— Bryan Harsin (Texas offensive coordinator)
— Josh Heupel (Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator)
— Todd Monken (Oklahoma State offensive coordinator)
— Chad Morris (Clemson offensive coordinator)
— Pat Narduzzi (Mighican State defensive coordinator)
Kirby Smart (Alabama defensive coordinator)
— Everett Withers (Ohio State defensive coordinator)
— David Yost (Missouri offensive coordinator)

Manny Diaz is a young up-and-coming coordinator who already seems ready to make the leap to the big office. He is known at Texas for his aggressive defense and ability to force mistakes on the other team. Another defensive coach making a name for himself is Kirby Smart at Alabama. His defensive units and National Championship rings speak for themselves.

The big question now is: Would any of these coaches want to come to Kentucky? Who is your pick for the hottest name in college football?

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

59 Comments for Names on the radar

  1. Bring In
    3:34 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Bud Foster!

  2. Guest
    3:34 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Of this list, I would hope for Kirby Smart bc on top of his coaching ability he likely has deep roots in SEC country for recruiting already. Surprised Mark Helfrich (Oregon’s Offensive coordinator) is not on this list.

  3. Mikey
    3:39 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t think Kentucky needs any of them. They need that home-run hire with an established name. IF and I say IF Kentucky gets one, go with Smart.

  4. UK Alumni
    3:39 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    We are already talking to Bobby Petrino and he will be the next UK Football coach. Do I agree with this, not really because the school up the road will throw this up in our facesas we did Pitino going to their school. Petrino it will be, mrk it down.

  5. Tuscaloosacat
    3:39 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Kirby Smart is a U of GA alum. He will not leave Saban except for there or big time $. He makes about 1.2 million here as defensive coordinator/asst. head coach. Otherwise he is an awesome choice. He was last year’s #1 assistant coach.

  6. thissucks
    3:43 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    If this is the list, then the cats are gonna be bad for quite a while

  7. DB11
    3:43 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    If we could get Smart I’d go for him…If…

  8. UKGrad04
    3:45 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    None of the above will come nor should we want them. Look at the team we have now: a stable of RBs, good young QBs, talent on the outside. The solution is simple. Hire Willie Taggart or someone from the Harbaugh coaching tree. Play manball. Shorten the games. Keep our defense on the field as little as possible. Build momentum. Build excitement. Build program.

    Kirby Smart isn’t leaving. Petrino isn’t coming, and you shouldn’t want him. Also keep in mind: if you hire Helfrich or someone who runs a spread option, you lose Towles (see: Rodriguez, Rich vis-a-vis Mallett, Ryan).

  9. the truth
    3:47 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    We need to dish out the money and get a “name” coach that can recruit. Until our recruiting improves drastically we are always going to be spinning our wheels against Florida, LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, etc. Those are established programs with tons of past success, tons of NFL guys that have went thru the program, and awesome fan bases. We have marginal success with low level bowl wins, a few NFL guys, and a fanbase that turns on our own quicker than a rabid dog. Assistants haven’t proven they can recruit for themselves. Anyone can recruit for Alabama because it sells itself, same with Texas. An assistant isn’t the answer folks. Neither is a washed up head coach or someone from a conference like the MAC (check out Turner Gill’s success once he got his chance). GO BIG OR GO HOME. Spend the money Mitch and quit begging fans to keep believing. Spend the money and we will. Until then you reap what you sow.

  10. Roofis_Leakin
    3:49 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Foster seems like a no-nonsense guy that may fit around here. Plus he’s an established long-time coordinator who I truly feel is ready to take that next step in his career!

  11. fatkidineastky
    3:52 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Not super hyped to be the 1st head coaching position for an up and coming coordinator. I want a head coach who has been in the trenches and has a staff he can bring with him. I want a Butch Jones. I want a Jack Del Rio. I want a coach who can bring winning with him.Just look at Jim Moraand what he has already done for UCLA. It wont be long before they are fighting with Oregon and USC for supremacy in West again. I want no baggage (Tressel, Petrinio, etc.) Cal had no baggage….he had two kids who one admitted and the other said F U NCAA like Puke’s Thomas did. I want in one hand and will probably get sh*t in the other. `

  12. Jus Sayin
    3:52 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink


  13. tangledupinblue
    3:54 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    why would the Texas off. & def. coord’s be considered when IMHO Texas is one of the most underachieving teams in college football each year . This list is bunk .

  14. Joker
    3:58 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    I will be the coach next year.

  15. jeyhey
    4:07 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Is a coaching change really going to make that much difference?..SAME recruiting base..SAME division II facilities..SAME problem of having its basketball program overshadowing its football program…oh and last but not least..WE ARE KENTUCKY FOOTBALL!..this level of expectations for a program that hasn’t been very good since the 50’s just blows me away. I’ve said it before in another post….take it for what it is…gather with friends,enjoy the tailgating experience,have fun but for goodness sake….stop torturing yourselves…it’s almost BBM time….the saviors are coming.

  16. Rcvrv
    4:10 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Calvin Magee, long time OC of Rich Rodriguez. UK needs to do things differently and the RichRod/Magee spread offense qualifies. He has recruited the southeast and could expand UK’s recruiting reach to WV, W. PA, and OH.

    But, I’d prefer Petrino. He would own Louisville and the entire state in recruiting, plus his reputation as a coach pulls in big time players, like Ryan Mallett.

  17. Jeff garlin
    4:30 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    I would like to have Neil Brown OC at Oklahoma State. He played WR at UK and went to Boyle County.

  18. Cam
    4:37 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    I say Kirby Smart for an SEC defense or David Yost and use Whitlock in the spread in Whitlock’s Junior and Senior year

  19. bosshogg24
    4:39 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    UK needs a proven head coach, not some asst. from North Dakota State! Bobby Petrino comes to mind!

  20. Ukiddinme
    4:40 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Not enough ladies in Kentucky to satisfy Bud Foster

  21. Owen
    4:44 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Would love to get Kirby Smart and I think Mitch will definitely dish out the money for a guy like that… but if we want a big name coach to get big name players then we need big time facilities as well. And I don’t know that Smart would come. He turned down a better contract to go coach at Georgia (where he went) for DC and turned it down so I doubt he’d come to UK even if it is to be head coach.

    Can’t say I’m a fan of most of the other guys on that list. None of them have had enough success or are a big enough name for me to get particularly excited about.

    And can we get Tee Martin back here? I’d pay that guy a million to recruit and be our OC.

  22. drewsster02
    4:48 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    @17. Are you sure you want him? His name is spelled Neal Brown and he is the OC at Texas Tech under Tommy Tuberville. Plus, he transferred from UK to Umass.

  23. Zshocklee
    5:18 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    The Chester rant made me want to believe again, and after the first half I was thinking we might turn this season around and salvage what was left, but there is a second half to every game. I’ve always thought we should try to go after Kirby Smart. I don’t think we could get him to leave Bama, but i think that would the best fit. Plus someone needs to teach our boys how to tackle.

  24. Ares
    5:33 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Willie Taggart wins with 1 and 2 star players has outstanding mentors and has head coaching experience. I would start there. His primary recruiting area under Harbaugh was Florida.

  25. Rex Ryan
    5:35 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Do the ladies of Kentucky have sexy feet? If they do then I will be interested in the job when I get canned by the Jets after this season.

  26. what
    5:49 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    No way in hell we get Kirby Smart.

  27. Rex Ryan
    5:57 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    My time with the Jets is about done. Whaddaya say I come take over the Wildcats? My dad, Buddy, lives in Shelbyville. Maybe he can help out.

  28. Chiddarcheddar
    6:32 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Sonny Dykes please

  29. fo real
    6:36 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Ok heres the real list, Bill Belichick, Nick Saban, Tony Dungy, John Gruden, and Les Miles(Maybe, he might not be good enough…)

  30. foot stabber
    6:37 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    @25 they used to, until I showed up

  31. fo real
    6:38 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    I forgot Urban Meyer too, he’s also allowed

  32. Jarvis Redwine
    6:43 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Petrino, Leach, Butch Jones, Dykes are all acceptable candidates. How much would Louisville hate it if we hired Petrino? How good could Towles be under Petrino? Would Louisville ever get another significant recruit out of the state of Kentucky if we hired Petrino? Time for the home run hire, Mitch.

  33. old dude
    6:45 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    I was born in 1950 and have followed the team since I was able. Over the years, I’ve come to accept that there will be brief blips into ‘pretty good’ territory, with most of the time spent at the mediocre line or below. UK football is what it is. The Curse of the Bear seems to live on. I’d like to thank you young fans for continued support and interest.

  34. fo real
    6:46 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Can petrino even recruit in KY after the rep he has? Who would want their kid to play for him?

  35. Jarvis Redwine
    6:51 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    @34) Plenty of kids still want to play for Pitino, don’t they? The guy is a winner and has never been in trouble with the NCAA. I think he’s likely pretty humbled by now and contract would be structured for accountability and loyalty.

  36. new ball coach
    6:56 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Bud Foster is from Kentucky (Somerset if im not mistaken) and he would get the job done. We need a defensive minded coach to win. Look at the top of the SEC they all have really good defenses. No doubt that I would take Petrino. As a matter of fact I would take him over Coach Foster. When it comes down to it. We just need a coach that the administration will get behind and support. Go Big Blue

  37. meeksuperfan
    7:05 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink


  38. Head Bussa
    7:12 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    It’s pretty silly for some to think none of these coaches would want to come to Kentucky. All of these guys believe in themselves and think they can help a program. Now, it’s fair to say not all would want to come to UK but some of them certainly would. Quit acting like we are Towson St. or something. We aren’t the best of programs, but we certainly are a big school in a major conference and present a chance for a coach to establish longevity and a nice place to live. We can get a good coach.

  39. Jim Tressel
    7:19 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    You couldn’t pay me to take this job.

  40. BlueTexan
    7:20 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Joker Phillips was an assistant…tell me, hows that working?

  41. Cat in the boro
    7:36 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Manny would be a nice pick as I watch him coach defense here at MTSU and they got after it. He has some good ties to high school players in the south.

  42. Bluegrass Jimmy
    7:37 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    BOBBY PETRINO!!!! Hell yes he can recruit! Parents want their kids to play for a winner and the possibility of making the NFL!!!

  43. Beavis
    7:45 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    You could not pay Kirby Smart enough to come here and tackle this mess. May be the only time in the history of college football when you have to dangle a recruit who has not taken a snap in a game ,, ( Pat Towles ),, in front of the next coach to get him interested in the job.

  44. armycat
    7:57 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    John Chavis

  45. shinny
    8:00 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Turn the air-raid sirens back on!! Reach4Leach!!!!!!!! How about Cal&Leach on the same campus? Now that would be fun.

  46. BlueCat
    8:06 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Either Petrino or Leach. Both are passing gurus and that is the only way UK will succeed in the SEC. They won’t be able to get enough stallions to play smash mouth football, at least not right away. The only time UK has been successful at all in the last 25 years has been when the passed very, very well.

  47. Steve
    8:10 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    In no particular order: Sonny Dykes, Gus Malzahn, Jay Gruden, Willie Taggert, Butch Jones, Mark Helfrich, Kirby Smart…………

    That being said, I’m leaning towards Dykes, Taggert, and Jones as realistic possibilities and would be happy with any of them.

  48. Doubting Thomas
    8:25 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    How about a former KY player? Tim Couch, seriously is there a former player out there that can come back and make a difference? How about Tee Martin for head coach? He can recruit at least…..

  49. wow
    8:46 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Mark Butch, Gus Helfrich, Charlie Dykes, George Jones, Lee van Cleef, Billy O’Sullivan, Willie Helfrich, Bill Clinton, Floyd the Barber, Gus Fullmer, Joker Malzahn, Richard Nixon, the Professor and Mary Anne, Clint Eastwood, Lucy and Ethel, Penn and Teller…in no particular order. I am leaning towards the Professor and Mary Anne but Floyd the Barber would be ok also.

  50. J A Brooks
    8:52 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Shocked at how many dumb fans we have. If you think Joker’s only problem is our recruiting base then you know nothing.

    If you think the best assistant coaches in America can’t be good head coaches then explain every successful head coach because almost all of them were assistants at some point.

    God our fan base is hopeless.

  51. Schwinny
    9:03 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    Why do we want an offensive or defensive coordinator they might be great like Charlie strong or they might be a bust like joker if all of these people are so great I don’t think they would be coordinators unless there al like 30 years of age cause they would of already been hired to be head coaches…but if I had to pick it would be Kirby smart, but we want offense…Bobby Petrino is the perfect and only fit, I guarantee he would have us in the top 3 in the east within3 years mark my word…it seems like you all are worried about UL fans saying something about him cheating on his wife if you all and the forgot Mr Rick Pitino did the same thing and they all love him…who cares if Petrino leaves in4 years I guarantee the program will be in better hands then joker will leave us in…but I’m not sayin Petrino will stay forever but who’s really gonna offer him a bigger job then UK other then a small D1 School or a coordinator in the NFL….Just make Petrino sign a 5 year contract that if he leaves pay back 5 million dollars or something like that it will make him think twice about leaving I promise that…

  52. KyCat
    11:51 pm September 30, 2012 Permalink

    What “name”/”hone run”/”established” would want to come to Kentucky? We had one of those in Bill Curry. Say what you want now, but at the time, it was a huge coup for Kentucky. When 55/80 schollies are fr/so, getting beat-up in the SEC is likely. Why are we in this condition? That is the fair question.

    Kentucky as a state is a small recruiting base — the population of Houston is greater than the state! Brooks proved one thing, our boys can play smash-mouth football, too. We had some credible incredible moments. Yet, he never broke the streaks, never got above .500 in the SEC. Curci did, however, and then derailed. Claiborne did, then fizzled. These three men were late in their careers by the time they got to UK. It takes a lot of energy to sustain success.

    In one more year, JP will have 55/80 so/jr, and the entire team will be “his”. It will be his chance to play his hand, his way, all the way. I think at this point, he gets that shot. If he fails, I vote for the up-and-comer, someone who can stay and has the energy to build and sustain the program.

  53. Big Whoop
    5:51 am October 1, 2012 Permalink

    It won’t matter who the coach is if UK isn’t willing to provide the financial support that is required for a SEC program.

    While Joker has made too many mistakes to be retained, the entire power structure at UK needs to go as well….Eli and his merry band of Board of Trustees. We desperately need someone like Otis Singletary who actually loved football as much as basketball.

  54. Beavis
    7:05 am October 1, 2012 Permalink

    # 50,,,We all thank you for the bits of wisdom you bring to the site.

  55. Blueneck
    8:20 am October 1, 2012 Permalink

    JIM TRESSEL!!! Anyone else means we set the bar too low. If you truly want a big name like him you have to get them coming off issues (like Cal) despite the fact he ran a clean program otherwise.

    I like some of the coordinators mentioned but didn’t we just hire a coordinator who was also a good recruiter? How’d that go? There is a huge difference between HC and assistant. At least Taggart has shown he can be the main guy and has KY ties.

  56. FatsWildcat
    9:10 am October 1, 2012 Permalink

    How about Randy Shannon? Was mentioned to be hired as the defensive coordinator before Minter was hired. Has head coaching experience and has recruiting ties in Florida. He’s the Linebackers coach at TCU right now and might want another shot at being a Head Coach. Why not try that with a young talented roster in the SEC?

  57. WillCat
    2:56 pm October 1, 2012 Permalink

    On that list we need to look at Kirby Smart, Bud Foster, Manny Diaz, and Oregon’s OC Mark Helfrich. Unfortunately, just because they’re coordinators doesn’t mean that they’ll come cheap, and most of our investment will have to come via expanded staff (especially if Smart were to be hired) and improved facilities.

    What we don’t need to do is throw millions of dollars at a name who really has no ties to the SEC, Kentucky, or football in the south in general. Jim Tressel should not be considered (no ties), Huston Nutt should be considered (perennial loser, despite recruiting success), Bobby Petrino should not be considered (you think he’ll be able to recruit after his latest gaffe…?), Mike Leach should not be considered (too extravagant, and hasn’t coached in or around the SEC in a decade).

    If we can get whoever we want we should take either Smart or Helfrich, and here’s why. Smart should be #1 choice because of all the attributes above, (SEC ties, winning pedigree, defensive mindset – when has that ever been at UK??) but also because of the ‘Saban Way’. Nick Saban has running a college football team down to a science, and he has imparted that wisdom on many of his assistant coaches. From the organization of the team to the way they recruit, its a very measured a meticulous process, and one that has proven results. It just might cost $3+ mil a season.

    If we can’t get Smart then Helfrich would be an excellent choice because he would bring instant swagger and pep to our program through his Oregon experience and high-flying offense. Imagine next season with Whitlow at QB running option to Raymond Sanders, Demarco Robinson, and Demarcus Sweat. We have speed, we’ve already been doing a lot of spread stuff already, it wouldn’t be too tough of a transition. It would provide us a huge angle in recruiting because no one else outside of Auburn does anything really like that in the SEC, and it would be tough for opponents to prepare for. After that we’d just need to hire a badass DC for $1 mil a season to stop our opponents from scoring.

    Sounds easy right?!?!

  58. Big Rob
    8:14 pm October 1, 2012 Permalink

    — David Yost (Missouri offensive coordinator)
    KY would be lucky to have him. Mark my words he will be a head coach soon and will be a great addition to any program.

  59. Missouri Fan
    10:58 pm October 2, 2012 Permalink

    Please, please, PLEASE take Dave Yost!