VAUGHT: Phillips ready to be a head coach

With the success Kentucky has had this year after winning the Music City Bowl in 2006, it only makes sense that offensive coordinator Joker Phillips is going to be a hot commodity when the season ends.

If the Wildcats do well in their brutal three-game stretch against South Carolina, LSU and Florida, Phillips could become an even hotter commodity. So if he is offered a head coaching job at a smaller Division I school, should he take it or would he be better off staying at Kentucky until either a bigger job comes open or Rich Brooks retires and he's in position to become UK's next coach?

This question has no right answer. Only time could provide a definitive answer.

But there would seem to be merit for Phillips to gain head coaching experience. His resume has everything else. He's coached at Notre Dame, Minnesota and Cincinnati. He's been a receivers coach, recruiting coordinator and now an offensive coordinator.

He's been successful putting together game plans, helping players improve and evaluating talent. He's terrific with the media and has a knack for relating to almost anyone.

Still, a head coach has different responsibilities. The head coach sometimes has harder decisions to make and is the one that has to answer questions when things don't go right. There are more administrative duties for a head coach and a head coach has to learn how to hire the right people to work for him and how to lead those people.

Look at UK women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell. He left UK to become head coach at Morehead State. Without that experience, there's little chance he would been named UK's head coach when Mickie DeMoss left.

As valuable as Phillips is to Kentucky, he may need to think first about what is best for his future when this season ends. While staying at Kentucky would be easy and comfortable for him and his family, he may need to make that move to head coach and climb the final step before he can become a big-time head coach.

Phillips could make more money, gain valuable experience and put the final touch on a fabulous resume by proving he could be as successful as a head coach as he has been as an assistant. That's why it would not surprise me to see Phillips take a head coaching job after this season ends if the right opportunity comes along. And if he does, no one at Kentucky can blame him because that could be the move that also eventually makes him the next head coach at Kentucky.

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