BROOKS: "Joker lives it and breathes it."

"I am walking and well," said Brooks. Then he confirmed what many of his players sensed for weeks — he was retiring after seven years as UK's head coach after taking the Cats to four straight bowl games and four straight winning seasons.

"I am walking and well," said Brooks. Then he confirmed what many of his players sensed for weeks — he was retiring after seven years as UK's head coach after taking the Cats to four straight bowl games and four straight winning seasons.

He said numerous players sent him text messages and contacted him about coming back even though he told them after the Dec. 27 Music City Bowl that he was 80 percent sure he would retire. He sought advice from his family, but they all wanted the 68-year-old Brooks to keep coaching. Or at least they all did except his wife, Karen.

"None of them wanted me to give it up. They all thought I would miss it a lot," Brooks said. "I can come back and ride out on the white stallion next year and have victories over all the teams that I had not beaten and all would be wonderful.

"The only sane one was my wife who said she wanted me to do what I wanted to do." What Brooks decided he wanted to do was walk away and turn the program over to Joker Philips, a former UK player who has been on Brooks' staff for seven years and was the head coach of the offense. Brooks initiated a move two years ago to name Phillips head coach in waiting and felt this was the time to let him take the head coaching reins.

"I thought he was prepared two years ago and the administration agreed. The one thing he has going for him, and I didn't, is that he is not an outsider. He is a Kentucky guy," Brooks said. "He lives and dies the job. There is a week here and week there you can shut id down, but it is a seven day a week, 24 hour a day job. "Joker lives it and breathes it. He is prepared from a fundamental standpoint. He has a great personality and is good with the young men he coaches. He and the coaching staff are in position to take it and run with it."

"Whatever he does or doesn't want to ask, that is his choice. I don't want to be in his way," Brooks said. He did make a plea, though, for things that could help Phillips. He pleaded for an increase in coaching salaries. Kentucky ranks 19th nationally, but that's near the bottom of the SEC salary list. Brooks also said facilities needed to be upgraded and mentioned new breakout meeting rooms, expansion of the weight room and stadium renovations that would include a recruiting room like every other SEC team has.

"I think those things are important to continue the progress of Kentucky football," Brooks said.


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