The University of Kentucky announced this afternoon that head coach Joker Phillips will not return in 2013.
In an open letter by Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, he announced his intentions to search for a new coach immediately.
Here is a portion of the release from the UK Athletics department.
After much conversation, evaluation and prayer, I have determined that it is in the best interest of our athletics program to make a change in our football coaching staff at the conclusion of the season. I do so with a heavy heart for a man who has served his alma mater for almost 22 years as a player and a coach. Joker Phillips has carried the banner for the Blue and White with honor and pride. I have enjoyed working alongside him and am thankful for his friendship for the last decade. His concern for the entire program, his work and teaching of young people, his humanitarian work, and the friendship we all enjoy with him will long surpass the scoreboard. I want to thank him for all of those things on behalf of Kentucky.
The search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be managed internally. I understand the challenge and significance of finding a new leader for our football program. It will be done with great concern for our student-athletes, students of the University of Kentucky, the Big Blue Nation and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Football needs to be and will be a championship contender in the SEC.
Kentucky was mauled yesterday by Vanderbilt 40-0, sucking the life out of what was left of a battered program.
So, Phillips becomes the first of the four big coaches on the hot seat to get the axe. Arkansas will replace their head coach for sure, and Derek Dooley and Gene Chizik remain fighting for their jobs week to week as well.
This is the best decision for Kentucky moving forward. I know how much Phillips means to the football program, but after a 1-9 season overall and 0-7 in the SEC, one had to figure this would be coming sooner rather than later. Vanderbilt’s blowout win did the trick.
The one guy I would target? Try Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. This program needs some energy and someone to breathe the life back into it immediately, and Kingsbury and his Ray-Ban’s might do the trick.
Who will be next?