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By LARRY VAUGHT
His job status has to be in jeopardy, but give Kentucky coach Joker Phillips credit for keeping his sense of humor.
At Monday’s weekly press conference, he was asked how he dealt with speculation that the Joker Phillips’ era at Kentucky is over after three years because of his team’s 1-8 record after Saturday’s loss at Missouri.
“I was coming over here today and got in car and my seat was hot. I looked up and hit my seat warmer,” Phillips laughed and said.
What about any talks with UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart about his future?
“I was going to tell you Mitch and I talked … we talked about an extension. I was just kidding,” Phillips grinned and said. “No, it hasn’t changed. We haven’t talked. Just been small talk. Talking like friends do weekly.”
So no conversation about his future?
“No, we have not and it has been his policy to wait until the end of the year,” Phillips said
He says the speculation about his future has not changed the way UK recruits.
“I have had to recuit this way most of my career,” Phillips said. “I don’t think about the media or what you guys write or think. I think about what recruits are thinking. We sell what we do and have had success doing that.”
Phillips noted that while he worries about all his players, he wants none of them worrying about his future.
“They are 22 year olds. They need to have fun, go to school and play ball. That’s what they are here for. I never bring it up,” Phillips said.
Phillips said he often has friends and/or ex-UK players come to practice and talk about how “upbeat and energetic” the players are.
“I am so proud of how the veterans have handled this also,” Phillips said. “They have been good role models to these younger kids. The younger players came here with hopes of playing and they are getting to and it has really helped the way they prepare. These young kids are coming to practice every day ready to work.”
Phillips said he plans to start Jalen Whitlow at quarterback this week against Vanderbilt but will also have a “plan” to get freshman Patrick Towles in the game again. He did that after Whitlow led two successful drives to start the game at Missouri but Towles could not generate a first down in two series and UK’s offense was stagnant the rest of the game.
After the Missouri game, offensive coordinator Randy Sanders suggested he had second thoughts about sticking to the pregame plan. Phillips said he had no second thoughts.
So you and Sanders disagree?
“We don’t disagree. We both agree he (Towles) would go in the third series,” Phillips said. “Again, looking back probably shouldn’t (have changed quarterbacks) because it didn’t work out and get questions for you guys.”