The coaching carrousel got kicked off this past week in the SEC, and it’s only just the beginning of a whirlwind of changes coming. Here is a recap of all the news that happened this week:
After last Saturday’s 40-0 blowout loss to Vanderbilt at home, AD Mitch Barnhart fired Joker Phillips on Monday. Barnhart said the coaching search starts immediately to replace Phillips.
Barnhart had the following to say about the firing of Joker Phillips:
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.
Phillips then released a very classy statement regarding his firing:
“We, as coaches, are measured on results,” Phillips said in a statement. “We didn’t get the results we had worked and hoped for, therefore change is needed. In my current 10-year stay at Kentucky, we’ve had some memorable moments as an assistant, coordinator and head coach. We’ve had the opportunity to coach some fine young men and I am grateful to have had the privilege of watching them grow as players, as students and as people.”
Joker Phillips will coach the remaining two games of the season against Samford and Tennessee. The 49-year-old Phillips was 12-23 with the Wildcats during his tenure, and is owed $2.25 million over the remaining two years of his contract.
Bobby Petrino Coming Back?
Thursday, we found out that SEC cast-off Bobby Petrino was interested in the Kentucky job via his dad. Petrino’s father spoke with a Kentucky reporter about the opening and pleaded his son’s case for the job.
“I know he wants a job; he needs a job,” Petrino Sr. said by telephone Wednesday. “He told me, ‘I need a job, Dad.’ I said, ‘Well, you must still have some money. You made 31/2 million dollars.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I do. It’s not the money.’ He just misses coaching so much.
“I just know this, that he’s interested in Kentucky,” the father said. “He wants to stay in the SEC. That was his life’s goal was to go to the SEC.”
We do not believe that Mitch Barnhart will look in Bobby Petrino’s direction because there is so much baggage. However, he would fit nicely there with his style of play.
Two potential candidates who are being mentioned are Duke’s David Cutcliffe and Louisiana Tech’s Sonny Dykes.
A report from 247Sports.com said that Auburn president Jay Gogue has informed members of the board of trustees that the Tigers ‘are preparing to possibly replace Chizik’ after the season.
I think it’s safe to assume barring an unforeseen major victory over Georgia or Alabama, Chizik will be out on the Plains. His contract runs through 2015, but if he’s dismissed early, Auburn would owe him $7.5 million payable over the remainder of his career.
Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson was named a potential replacement for Chizik.
Auburn needs just more than a head coaching change – they need a change in direction in the entire athletic department, and that starts with AD Jay Jacobs. I’m not sure who would take the job based on the baggage of the program right now.
Other than Watson, no other potential candidates have been mentioned as targets.
Yesterday, CoachingSearch.com informed us that TCU’s Gary Patterson was the leading candidate for the Arkansas coaching vacancy.
Patterson has had a great career at TCU and has been offered other jobs in the past but turned them down. Will he leave? He certainly has a better chance of winning big at TCU than he does Arkansas simply because he would have to play Alabama and LSU every year.
Tommy Tuberville, former Ole Miss and Auburn head coach and current Texas Tech head coach, is also being mentioned with the job as a potential candidate.
AD Jeff Long has said that he wants to hire a coach who is employed and wants to make it official a couple of weeks after the season is over.
Patterson would be a homerun hire, but I’m just not sure he would leave TCU.
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