Phillips will do whatever Kentucky wants

November 29, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

If Kentucky recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips was asked to become UK's new offensive coordinator, he would gladly take the job.

"If that happens, then yes I will give it a try," said Phillips.

He says if head coach Rich Brooks and athletics director Mitch Barnhart agree that he should be the one to try to revive UK's offense that was statistically one of the worst in the nation this season, then he would gladly become an offensive coordinator for the first time in his coaching career.

"If they think that is what is best for this program, I'll do it," Phillips said. "Six years ago we thought what was best for this program was for Joker to leave. And it was. It was probably the best thing that happened to me. It gave me a chance to get away and see things from a different perspective and that also gave me a chance to grow up."


Phillips, a former UK wide receiver, was on Bill Curry's coaching staff at Kentucky when Curry was fired. After leaving Kentucky, Phillips coached at Notre Dame, Minnesota, Cincinnati and South Carolina before returning to UK as the receivers coach when Brooks was hired two years ago.

Offensive coordinator Ron Hudson resigned last week and Phillips, Brooks and offensive line coach Paul Dunn shared the play-calling duties in Saturday's 37-31 loss at Tennessee. Kentucky had more points (24) and yards (270) in the first half than it had in most games this year.

What had been a predictable offense for most of the season became more aggressive and bold at Tennessee.

"That's what we intended to do," Phillips said. "What we wanted to do was run on throwing downs and throw on running downs to keep the defense off balance. We also wanted to throw the ball downfield even more."

Not a job audition

Phillips refused to label the game as a job audition.

"I didn't consider it that way," he said. "I wanted to have my 20-year reunion at Tennessee and win like we did when I was a senior at Kentucky (and won at Knoxville in 1984). I didn't look at it as a job interview or audition. I just wanted to send these seniors out with a victory."

He also said both Brooks and Dunn had significant input into the play calling and that any success was a joint venture rather than something he did himself.

But Phillips did acknowledge that he tried to show more faith in the players and put them in position to use their strengths.

"We took shots down the field on first down and early in drives," Phillips said. "I tried to convince (quarterback) Shane Boyd and the receivers that we could make plays we hadn't been making. We did some really good things the first half. The second half we just didn't execute. We had some penalties and a dropped ball that hurt us. But I think our guys showed they can make plays and we can be better in the future."

Phillips was careful not to say anything derogatory about Hudson. He even noted that after Boyd made a passionate speech to the team about not giving up when the players learned Hudson had resigned that the quarterback was the first player to go to Hudson's house to see him.

"That's the kind of kid he is and why I want this program to do well is for players like him who have put so much into Kentucky football," Phillips said.

Could do both jobs

Phillips has helped attract quality recruits to Kentucky. He already has helped line up 17 players for the 2005 recruiting class. However, he says if Brooks wants him to be both recruiting coordinator and offensive coordinator, he will do it.

"Whatever Rich Brooks thinks is best, or anybody thinks is best for program, that's fine with me," Phillips said. "If it is for me to be the recruiting coordinator, then I want to be the best darnn recruiting coordinator that I can be. If it is to be the offensive coordinator, then I will be the best one.

"I am true blue. People don't understand how much this place means to me. This is where I grew up. I came in here as a snotty-nosed, 18-year-old kid and I feel like when I left this place they had turned me into a responsible man. I owe this place a lot and will do whatever I can to help this program."

Central Kentucky News Articles