HOOVER, Ala. – Kentucky coach Joker Phillips is known as a serious-minded fellow. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a sense of humor.
Asked the dreaded hot-seat question during SEC Football Media Days on Wednesday, the third-year coach had a quick comeback.
“I’m not sitting down right now, so there’s nothing hot up here,” he said with a laugh.
Turning serious, Phillips said he doesn’t pay attention to such distinctions.
“I don’t have time to listen to that stuff,” said Phillips, who is 11-14 since succeeding Rich Brooks in 2010. “All we have time to do is think about doing the things we need to do to get back to the level we want to. I don’t have time to think about other things. . . . If I do I’m losing time I’ve got to sell the great state of Kentucky and what we have to offer.”
The Wildcats finished 5-6 this past season and missed a bowl game for the first time in six years. However, they finished the season strong, winning two of the last four and beating Tennessee in the season finale for the first time since 1984.
“I think that was huge as far as gaining confidence, especially when you look at how young we were as a football team. “There were a lot of young guys making plays for us in those last four games. So I think it was huge for our guys as far as gaining confidence.”
One thing is for sure: Kentucky players have full confidence in their coach. Senior guard Larry Warford vehemently defended the program’s leader.
“He cares about the program and about us so much,” Warford said. “It shows in everything he does. He eats, sleeps and breathes Kentucky football. He cares abou this program so much and it shows on the field with the intensity that he brings. It’s crazy how much he loves the program and we are better for it.”
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