By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky players got no indication at a Monday morning meeting on who the new UK football coach would be.
Parents of three different players, who did not want to be identified for fear of angering UK officials or any coach, all said their sons were anxious to know more about who will be coaching them next season. All three also said their sons had no plans to leave UK.
“What worries me is it is time to be recruiting and I thought by firing Joker (Phillips) three weeks ago that UK would have a new coach in place by now,” one parent said. “They need to be recruiting, maybe even looking at junior college players for some help. The kids are frustrated, especially the seniors, and wondering about the future.”
Another parent was a bit shocked by what his son told him. He indicated there was “no word yet” on the coach, which he could accept. However, he didn’t like what he heard that UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart told the team about needing to give a better effort and that played a role in Phillips being fired.
A third parent wants a new coach and staff to “not play as many favorites” and use the most talented players all the time.
“You deserve to play if you earn it. You don’t deserve it just because you have been around or a certain coach likes you more,” the parent said. “Look at Vanderbilt. That guy (James Franklin) can coach. He has recruited well, but he has also coached well. He has emotion, fire. UK was missing that this year. I like the way (John) Calipari handles his team. He gets the best out of all his kids. He wants players to play defense and play together. If they don’t, they sit. He runs the show and demands that players perform or he plays someone who can.”
And what about the search? Rumors continue to persist that UK is close to hiring a coach. Sources indicate that Barnhart is working from home — maybe a way to keep any university phone records from eventually becoming public knowledge to see who he did call during the search process.
Another UK parent called tonight to tell me that Barnhart seemed to indicate he wanted to have a coach in place by the semester break. Most players likely will leave campus Dec. 14 or 15 for the semester break, so that timeline would go along with earlier reports that UK might have set a Dec. 15 target date.
One current college assistant coach told me today that there are a “ton of rumors” about the UK job, but no one seems to know for sure what is happening. I’ll give credit to Barnhart for that. He’s keeping information to himself and that’s why when rumors about certain coaches spread, one has to wonder if it is reliable information or maybe something to draw attention away from the real direction UK is going.