Nov. 7, 2012 — This past Sunday, University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart found sanctuary in the old saying “enough is enough,” with the expected firing of Head Football Coach Joker Phillips.
Saturday’s 40-0 shellacking at home against Vanderbilt was the worst loss the Kentucky program has suffered to the Commodores in 96 years, not to mention the stadium’s attendance had dwindled to less than half its capacity.
Phillips’ 12-23 record over three seasons was certainly reason enough for any AD to pull the trigger, as the gun had been smoking for a while now between the lines at Commonwealth Stadium.
In this week’s “In The Post,” we’ll take a look at who was the real “joker” in this equation. Was it Phillips’ inability to produce? Or does the punch line lie elsewhere?
First off, let’s examine the history (notice I didn’t say successful) of Kentucky football.
Let’s be honest, basketball comes first in Lexington, and it has been this way since the days Adolph Rupp himself commanded the boys in blue from the sidelines.
Mediocrity at best has been the name of the game for Kentucky football, at least during my lifespan of 25 years. To get an idea of this, since I was born on March 3, 1987, the Wildcats have had just seven winning seasons, four of which came under the direction of Rich Brooks.
There is no greater example of where UK football stands in Lexington than what came from the mouth of one of football’s most well-known commanders, in Paul “Bear” Bryant. Believe it or not, before his departure in 1953, Bryant had the Kentucky program competing at a championship level year in and year out.
Finishing with a record of 60-23-5, Bryant also brought the school its only national championship in 1950 with a 13-7 victory over No. 1 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.