Joker tabbed as heir on Kentucky gridiron
By: By JEFFREY MCMURRAY, Associated Press Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky offensive coordinator Joker Phillips will eventually become the Wildcats’ head coach following Rich Brooks’ retirement.
The 66-year-old Brooks has not set a timetable for his retirement, the university announced Friday in a news release. He will sign a contract extension through 2011 on Friday that will pay him $1.6 million a season.
Phillips, who just completed his third season with the Wildcats, helped engineer a potent offensive attack featuring quarterback Andre Woodson. He was born in Franklin, played for Kentucky from 1981-84 and spent three seasons with the Washington Redskins.
“Continuity and consistency will be a competitive advantage for UK going forward, an advantage our program has not enjoyed very often during its history,” Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart said.
Barnhart, Phillips, Brooks and president Lee Todd Jr. attended a news conference to make the announcement official.
“As I am one of the elder statesmen in the coaching profession, I thought it important for recruits to know that there will be continuity in the program and the coaching staff,” Brooks said. “Joker Phillips has earned the right as a Kentucky graduate, and having built one of the most productive offenses in school history, to have the opportunity to lead the program in the future.”
Phillips had been considered one of the top candidates for head coaching positions elsewhere. Before last year’s Music City Bowl, which Kentucky won for the second straight season, Phillips was asked whether he planed to return to the Wildcats.
“I’m here now,” he said.
Phillips and defensive coordinator Steve Brown are both black, the first time a Southeastern Conference team has had two black coordinators at the same time.
Phillips and Brooks have worked together to revamp Kentucky’s program. Led by Woodson, the Wildcats have posted consecutive 8-5 seasons that included victories in the Music City Bowl.
It marked the first time since 1951-52 the Wildcats made back-to-back bowl appearances.
Brooks is 25-35 in five seasons with the Wildcats and 116-144-4 in 23 seasons overall at the college level.
“He has restored integrity and stability to a program that was facing monumental challenges when he arrived,” Barnhart said of Brooks.