How Vanderbilt got Phillips fired

When a game is lost by a margin which evokes the word historic you know that something is going to come from it. So it was this week when Kentucky coach Joker Phillips was fired shortly after his Wildcats lost 40-0 to the Commodores. That loss, by the way, was the worst by Kentucky to Vanderbilt since 1916. Which would make the whole thing very historic indeed.

When a game is lost by a margin which evokes the word historic you know that something is going to come from it. So it was this week when Kentucky coach Joker Phillips was fired shortly after his Wildcats lost 40-0 to the Commodores. That loss by the way was the worst by Kentucky to Vanderbilt since 1916. Which would make the whole thing very historic indeed.

In some ways it seemed like only a matter of time until a Vanderbilt victory cost a coach his job in 2012. It was only a few weeks ago when Gene Chizik, he of a recent National Title, was pushed onto the hottest of hot seats when Auburn was unable to beat the new look Commodores in Nashville. Though Chizik is a slightly different case because of his pedigree it is very interesting to see the turmoil in the SEC coaching ranks as Vanderbilt make strides forward.

The problem for coaches like Phillips and those at other schools in SEC that are seen as the bottom tier is that James Franklin has reset the bar. Before it was okay to come into a school and get by with a few wins each year and maybe the odd upset, but the prevailing attitude was that this is our place and the status quo is okay. Franklin hasn't just turned that apple cart upside down, he has incinerated it and then blown it up again for good measure.

Here is how Kirk Herbstreit put it in an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal when asked how the Wildcats should replace Phillips.  

"I think first of all, playing in the SEC, it's always going to be a challenge to win a lot of games. I think Vanderbilt is a good example of being able to locate an offensive-minded coach who's got a lot of energy and kind of an aggressive mentality. If you look at what he's been able to do in the SEC – not just the SEC, but East where you have Georgia and Florida and South Carolina (three current top-10 teams) and usually a pretty good Tennessee team. But James Franklin, in his first year he gets to a bowl game. In his second year, looks like they're going to go to another bowl game.

"And I think it's his background as an offensive guy, but really more than anything as you get to know James Franklin, it's his energy – overall drive and personality. He's a recruiter. He's relentless in recruiting. I think that's what Kentucky needs to find. Instead of apologizing for, ‘Oh, gosh, we're Kentucky,' and , ‘We're in the SEC and it's challenge; it's a grind,' you've got to find somebody who believes. You've got to find somebody who makes that into a positive. You've got to find somebody who's young and aggressive and eager and wants to go out and hit the recruiting trails and sell everything! Get excited about what you have to offer there."

Herbstreit's words are the kind that should make every Vanderbilt fan proud of what they have in Franklin. He has upped the game for what an administration, fan base, and players should expect out of a college football coach. In doing so he has brought Vanderbilt to a level of national prominence which is new to all. The only people that should be unhappy about the way Franklin has gone about his business? Coaches who enjoy the status quo.

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