By LARRY VAUGHT
Since Kentucky is a Nike-sponsored football team, Kentucky coach Joker Phillips is expected to speak at two Nike coaching clinics this year.
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s already done one in Tunica, Miss., and this weekend heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be speaking at the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic in Orlando along with several other college head coaches including Jimbo Fisher of Florida State and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma along with college assistant coaches and several coaches of state championship high school teams in Florida.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I get to pick the two clinics I do so I went to Tunica because of a lot of high school coaches from Memphis go there,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Phillips Thursday. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I chose Orlando because we want to get into that market in recruiting and it will have a huge following of Florida coaches.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips took his staff to the Nike clinic in Louisville recently.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We made a presence there ourselves. I made the whole staff go Friday and Saturday,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will never do that (Louisville) as one of my clinics because that is one we can go to any way. I want to pick clinics across the country that will benefit us in recruiting.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“At Louisville, both (receivers coach) Tee Martin and (strength coach) Rock Oliver spoke. Rock did an unbelievable job and got all kind of people talking.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips says while heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to Orlando to speak to coaches, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll also interact with plenty of high school coaches as well as listen to what they have to say when they speak.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I make it a point to interact. I go to all the socials, but I also go and sit up front and listen to the high school coaches talk,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You can pick up some little things just listening and the high school coaches do appreciate and remember when you sit up front and listen to them. That makes it easy to make connections.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He still remembers going to a national coaching convention as a young assistant coach and seeing veteran coach Eddie Robinson of Grambling sitting up front with a notepad listening to a high school coach speak.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whey did he need to listen to some young coach? Well, he was trying to learn and trying to make an impact so it would help his recruiting efforts,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I never forgot that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
While this will be the last clinic Phillips speaks at before UK starts spring practice, it wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be his last speaking engagement. And he plans to be back in Danville for the annual Kentucky high school coachesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ summer meeting even though he may not speak.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will make an appearance, but I will maybe send one of the other guys to speak,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I would like to get Rock over there. It would be good for them to hear him. But I will still be around to shake hands and talk. Those are the coaches we will never forget or shun.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Nike clinics are bigger than the Kentucky high school one because Nike is a national deal, so you get coaches from Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and others who fly in for the clinic like the one in Orlando. But the Kentucky high school clinic is important and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll always plan to be there.Ã¢â‚¬Â