Most Recent Posts
- Video: UK softball coach Rachel Lawson previews the Super Regional clash against Arizona State
- ESPN.com’s Jason King seems to have logical rankings going into next season
- Mark Stoops on John Calipari: “I love being around him”
- UK football coach Mark Stoops understands that hiring Vince Marrow was a home run for Kentucky
- Video: Larry hears cowbells, makes a chocolate cow and soaks up the culture in Switzerland
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about recruiting the home state of Kentucky
- What role did Drew Barker’s mother play in his athletic development?
- Calipari will be keynote speaker at Iba Awards June 3 in Tulsa
By LARRY VAUGHT
All spring Kentucky’s defensive players have talked about how much simpler the scheme is this year, but defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot says it is not that simple.
So who is right? Today I asked coach Mark Stoops, a former defensive coordinator. Enjoy his answer:
“It’s just a mindset. Believe me, we could be as complex as we want to be. It’s getting your players…it’s not what we know. We could sit in there on the board and come up with a lot of good defenses. There are a lot of good ways to do things but it’s up to you to get your team to understand it and teach it and get them to execute it, that’s the bottom line.
“Nobody really cares how much I know or we know on Saturdays, it’s a matter of what the players know and execute and play. I think that’s a big part of our philosophy defensively, to make it simple, make them understand it, know who they are and have tweaks and a lot of changes off of it. We’ll never stop defensively, we’ll always continue to install but that takes time.”
Doubting Rick Minter would have answered the same way last year because he loved complex and confusing.
While Kentucky coach Joker Phillips walked away with a smile on his face after his last game at UK, defensive coordinator Rick Minter didn’t exactly do the same and even offered some advice for the next coach — which is now Mark Stoops after the Florida State defensive coordinator was named head coach Tuesday.
Minter — who has been at 13 schools during his 35-year coaching career and was fired as the head coach at Cincinnati — noted that UK showed little loyalty to Phillips.
“I’ve been through what he’s been through, and I know how tough this is, and how challenging this is, particularly being an alumnus,” Minter said after Saturday’s loss at Tennessee. “You know, ‘this is my school,’ so to speak. Those would be his words, ‘this is my school’, and they threw him out. No matter what you say, they threw him out. And he can say he’s numb, but I guarantee you he’ll feel it, if he doesn’t already. It’s real. He’s just done a great job fooling you guys (in the media). It was a quick trigger, in my estimation. But nobody asked me what I thought.”
Minter, who indicated he would like a chance to coach in the NFL, said the administration has “been really good to us” and then noted how expectations rose to high — at Kentucky — because of the success former coach Rich Brooks had with four straight bowl appearances.
“It’s so unfortunate that perhaps over the last five to seven years, expectations maybe rose, and, of course you want to win – we all do – but maybe the perception was higher than the reality wa,” Minter said. “All of a sudden you don’t have a star quarterback like (Mike) Hartline, and you don’t have a Randall Cobb catching balls, and before you know it, you’re not moving the ball as well,. Then you lose a Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy, and you don’t quite have the forces to replace those guys just yet into your (defensive) system.”
Minter also had a few shots for Brooks.
“Just because he (Phillips) was the coach-in-waiting doesn’t mean he made the decisions that made the program go,” Minter said. “When I was a head coach, I made all the decisions. He’s made them for two years and 10 games. He didn’t make them for five or six years just because somebody said, ‘Hey, someday you’ll be the coach here.’
“Rich Brooks made all those decisions until that one day when he walked in and said, ‘Hey, guess what, I’m out’. That’s when he (Phillips) started changing the staff a little bit and trying to change the culture to fit the Joker Phillips way. It wasn’t necessarily bad or worse than Rich, just different.
So those are the things that really disappoint us as coaches is that we didn’t have a chance to cultivate and grow our team to get more and more of those kinds of guys to where you start reloading like the other teams do, and not once in a blue moon you get a star and lose him, and all of a sudden you fall off the map.”
He said success at UK is “hard to sustain because stars don’t come around very often.”
“When you have them (stars), your expectations rise, and when you don’t have them, you get rid of the coach because he didn’t have any stars,” Minter said.
Minter called Kentucky a “tough place” to coach and blamed the lack of in-state talent as a major hurdle for any UK coach to overcome.
“You have to go outside your state, and to do that takes time to develop the inroads in recruiting,” Minter said.
He argued why give Phillips a five-year contract and then “pull the cord” after two years and 10 games as UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart did when he fired Phillips after three straight losing seasons and a 2-10 mark this season.
“I feel so bad for Joker, I really do. Because he was a lifer here, and he really was on the right track. I know people don’t want to hear that. And he has a great staff. And none of us wanted to go anywhere else,” Minter said. “And when you hire the next guy, if he’s really good, he won’t stay. And if he’s really bad, you get rid of him, too. But you had a lifer here in Joker. Winning was the goal, and not leaving would have been his goal. So we hope the administration will use sound judgment and hire a great guy, and I hope everybody gets behind him and shows some patience.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Could Kentucky really beat Tennessee twice in a row in football? Could it really happen in years when Kentucky football has not been that god?
Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter says for that to happen, UK will have to slow down what he thinks might be the best offensive team that Kentucky has played this season. The Volunteers rank 13th nationally in passing offense,averaging 317.6 yards a game and are 23rd in total offense nationally with 477.6 yards per contest.
However, he says Kentucky’s players continue to prepare well and not be distracted by the firing of coach Joker Phillips two weeks ago.
“Kids are always bounce back, no matter what happens in life,” Minter said. “They are much more resilient than adults because they don’t think about it too much, they just do it. We will wish them well and pull for them always. Kentucky will always have a special place in your heart because whenever you work somewhere for a while you give it everything you have. Therefore when you leave, you leave some of yourself behind.”
Whoever the next Kentucky coach is, Minter said the future is bright with talented underclassmen on defense.
“All the kids on the back end that have played and contributed this year, some in a mighty role, others in a minor role, are all going to be good players,” Minter said. “You just mark it down — the Blaylocks (Daron and Zack) are going to be good players, the young corners all three of them (Cody Quinn, Fred Tiller, J.D. Harmon) are going to be good players, (Khalid) Henderson is going to be a good player, (Pancho) Thomas is going to be a good player. There are three defensive linemen that you have never seen because they are being redshirted but they are going to be good solid guys, whether it be (Patrick) Graffree, (Thomas) Chapman, (Langston) Newton.
“There are others, I don’t want to be remiss (in not mentioning them), but it is a bright future. How bright, who knows? But it is a much brighter future than it was a few years ago looking down the road of guys finally getting into this program.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Two years ago Kentucky coach Joker Phillips and UK ended losing streaks against Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. Last year the Cats ended the nation’s longest single-team losing streak to Tennessee.
Now UK has a chance to do the same at Florida Saturday. The Cats’ last win over Florida was 10-3 in 1986.
Philips said he has not mentioned the losing streak to his team.
“Why bring those things up. They hear enough outside of here. We try to prepare and play as well as we can,” Phillips said. “A lot of those guys have not been part of those (losses). We are such a young team with first and second year players. The only games they realize are the one a couple played in last year and one the true freshmen are about to play in. We do not mention it. Our approach is to stay nothing and prepare to play the best we can.”
Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter said UK’s players also likely have recovered mentally from the overtime loss to Western Kentucky last week better than the coaches have.
“I think coaches drool over the past more than players. I think by midnight, probably the players are moving on. It’s what we try to encourage them to do,” Minter said. “You want them to hurt when you lose because you invest everything you have in the game, but by the same token when the sun comes up the next day, you have to put it behind you, move on and get ready for the next week.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Just as defensive coordinator Rick Minter did Tuesday, Kentucky coach Joker Phillips has denied a Kentucky Sports Radio report that there was a confrontation between him and Minter over UK’s defensive play at Louisville.
When asked if he had strained relationship with Minter, Phillips said, “Strained? For what? Why would it be strained. No.”
He said their “relationship is great” going into Saturday’s game with Western and that both are on the same page.
“Here’s the thing: There’s only one page. There’s only one page and we’re all on the same page. There’s not two pages in this program. It’s one page,” Phillips.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter has not been pleased with the overall play of Kentucky’s defense. Apparently he was even less pleased with a report on Kentucky Sports Radio that there had been a significant confrontation between him and head coach Joker Phillips over changes that needed to be made on defense during the loss at Louisville and for the Kent State game.
“I’m not going to talk about that. It didn’t happen. Now what’s next?” Minter said Tuesday when asked about the confrontation.
Remember, Phillips once worked under Minter when he was the head coach at Cincinnati and he made it clear when Phillips brought him to Kentucky that he knew who was the boss. However, Minter does rule the defense with an iron-hand. Ask any player or coach.
Confrontations also often happen with a staff — and probably should at times when a defense played as poorly as UK did at Louisville.
But rather than just not talk about it, Minter denied it even happened.
So what do you think? Did it happen or not?
By LARRY VAUGHT
Former University of Kentucky defensive back Mike Cassity says there is â€œnot much I can sayâ€ about rumors that he will be joining Joker Phillipsâ€™ coaching staff at UK even though The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, W.Va., has also reported his hiring.
Cassity has been the secondary coach at Marshall the lat two years, including 2009 when current UK defensive coordinator Rick Minter was Marshallâ€™s defensive coordinator. Cassity was also defensive coordinator at Cincinnati in 1994 when Minter was the head coach there.
â€œOne of the main reasons I came to Marshall was to work with him,â€ said Cassity, a safety at Kentucky who graduated in 1976 with a degree in physical education. â€œWe had a great working relationship. He is a very good ball coach. Rick and I work well together. We have the same coaching philosophy, know the same terminology. He is still doing the same things. We did a lot of his defense obviously when I was his coordinator at Cincinnati. He is just an excellent coach.â€
Cassity, who had current UKâ€ˆtight ends coach Greg Nord as a Kentucky teammate, watched the Wildcats beat Mississippi last season during an open date for Marshall.
â€œBeing a typical college fan, I just watched the game but I could see the guys really bought into what Rick brings to the table,â€ Cassity, who was Southeastern Conference wrestling runner-up in the 190-pound division, said.
Cassity has an extensive coaching resume. He has 34 years of coaching experience, including seven as a defensive coordinator. He has coached 34 players who have gone on to play in the NFL.
He was defensive coordinator at Louisville from 2004-2007 and had a defense ranked among the nationâ€™s top 40 in total defense each season. His 2006 team ranked 17th in the country in scoring defense and in 2005 the Cards ranked 21st in rushing defense and 23rd in scoring defense. In 2005, Louisville was 15th nationally in total defense and he was recognized as one of the nationâ€™s top 25 recruiters the same season.
Cassity was defensive coordinator at Illinois for three seasons, including in 2001 when the Illini won the Big Ten championship. He was co-coordinator at Oklahoma State with Rob Ryan in 1999 and was the defensive coordinator at Baylor in 1997-98.Â He has been defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech (1992-93), East Carolina (1990-91), Northeast Louisiana (1989) and Western Kentucky (1983-88).
He was also the secondary at Wisconsin in 1995-96, Morehead State in 1982 and Kentucky in 1979-81. Cassity, a Fort Campbell native, started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Kentucky and then coached at Paducah Tilghman High School. He spent six months coaching at Fern Creek High School in Louisville after leaving UofL.
â€œWhen they put me in the grave, I might be the only coach with the distinction of playing at Ft. Campbell, playing at Kentucky, coaching at Kentucky and also coaching at Western Kentucky, Morehead, Louisville, Paducah Tilghman and Morehead.
â€œThe greatest thing about coaching is that each and every day you wake up excited to go to work. There a lot of people who make more money than coaches who hate their jobs. Each day is a new challenge. The longer I have been in college coaching, the more exciting it is. I am very energized each day to go to work and that is important as a coach.â€
Cassity says heâ€™s not dramatically changed his coaching style. He says heâ€™s learned from various coaches from former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez to Ryan at Oklahoma State.
â€œI have been around good coaches. When I was at Oklahoma State, I would go into home and tell mothers of defensive backs that somebody would make (ESPN) SportsCenter each game because our corners are going to press up and play tight coverage. Iâ€™ve always had an aggressive mentality,â€ Cassity said. â€œAt Louisville, we always had some good defenses. I have not changed that approach to coaching.â€
Heâ€™s been a bit surprised by the reaction to reports that he is headed to Kentucky to fill the vacancy created when Steve Brown was not rehired as the secondary coach.
â€œI still have a lot of friends in the Lexington area. However, I never expected all the phone calls and texts when it came out that Iâ€ˆmight be headed back to Lexington. I heard from people I have not heard from in years,â€ Cassity said.
Cassity says if he does get hired at Kentucky, heâ€™s not worried about speculation that Kentucky must show dramatic improvement from the 11-14 mark Phillips has compiled the last two years to avoid a head coaching change after the 2012 season.
â€œEvery year is a tough year in college coaching,â€ Cassity said. â€œThere are no easy games no matter where you are. But every game is winnable, too.
â€œI just hope this thing works out well. But all I know today is that Iâ€ˆam going to work at Marshall because Iâ€ˆhave not been hired at Kentucky.â€