Insight into Joker Phillips

Those that do not know may be surprised to learn about the Joker Phillips that lurks behind the winning smile and affable personality. Kentucky Sports Report's Lonny Demaree, who has long chronicled Kentucky football on radio and the web, writes about a side of the Kentucky coach that not many are aware.

There those around that like to think they know who Joker Phillips is. There would be those that say they don't really care who Joker Phillips is. Just win football games. For those who chose to espouse their opinions publicly on who that they think Phillips is, here's a little insight.

-Nice Guy: Joker Phillips has a huge winning smile, a bubbly, and ebullient personality. Consequently there are those that feel his warmth allows his players to take him as their buddy rather than their head coach. There is evidence that, perhaps a few of the players were misled much to their chagrin.

-Coach in Waiting Syndrome: Nice guy? Quite the contrary. So much so that maybe the players were mislead into resisting a stronger hand than Rick Brooks exercised. When Brooks took over from Guy Morris there was a span of about six weeks when the team was without a head coach and assistants. Brooks inherited a physically out of shape team. His "Indian Run" alienated some of the veteran players ala the ringleaders – Dustin Williams and Chad Anderson, both of whom had over one hundred tackles the year before. While they and several others were rebelling against Brooks' tactics, in came Wesley Woodyard with extraordinary leadership ability. Spontaneous combustion. Consequently, neither Anderson nor Dustin Williams completed their eligibility at UK.

-Shawshank Redemption: There are a few players that need to find their way out to freedom and some others that can be an asset to the program by transforming themselves out of solitary confinement.

-Coaches Exit: Joker Phillips has shown the willingness to make moves on his coaching staff. All the coaching changes were made in the interest of better and more energetic recruiting. He understands the need for better recruiting and surfing the wave before it dissipates.

-Nutter Field House Experience: The place was at the field house in 2008. Players are often seen doing extra work after practice in the form of discipline or conditioning with their position coach before coming of the field of practice. On this day, uncharacteristically, Phillips had Garry Williams and Christian Johnson on the far end of the field house turf. Several in the media were waiting to interview Phillips. Suddenly, a volley of extremely loud expletives was hailed at the players. Is that the affable Phillips we were hearing and thought we knew? Surprise, surprise, it was.

-Style Familiarity: Expect there to be a smoother ride in the second as head coach. The players now know what to expect when they miss a class and are late for a meeting. It would reason that missing quarters of games are in the offing.

-Pipeline Constructor: The coach realizes it's difficult to recruit carte blanche and must build pipelines. Some of the connections have been established at LaGrange High School in Georgia; Stephenson High School at Stone Mountain, Georgia; and Louisville Central High School. Enter Tee Martin who has inroads in his home state of Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia where he lived for thirteen years.

-Talent Evaluator: When all of the southern football powers skim of the top recruited talent and turn to other potential difference makers they look to UK's list ala last years offense lineman Kenarious Gates from Greenville, Georgia. Three-star Gates, who started for Georgia, first committed to UK. "The big schools know that we are great evaluators," Phillips said. "They know!"

-Media Presence: Joker Phillips seems to relish to cameras, lights, mic's and recorders. He has a sense of humor unlike any coach in the past. "That was one of my biggest fears when I tool over the job," he said.

The head football coach at the University of Kentucky is a complex exercise of traversing the travails and given the "Inside Phillips" enlightenment, the next thing is, is he a survivor.


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