Joker Phillips: 'I don't want an open casket'
Posted by: Chris Vannini on November 6, 2012
Joker Phillips met with the media Tuesday for the first time since it was announced he would not return for 2013.
As part of his opening statement to reporters, Phillips emphasized that the biggest goal this year was to have some momentum going into 2013, but sitting at 1-9 overall and 0-7 in the SEC, a change was made.
"At the beginning of the year the one thing I tried to stress with our staff is let's show improvement and get to '13, because I thought '13 would be the year we have an opportunity to make a huge move," Phillips said. "I thought we could show improvement this year. Then, in the first three games, we showed improvements offensively. It's hard not to notice that. I don't care who you are, it's hard not to notice that. We showed improvement on special teams.
"When we started showing improvements defensively, the injuries hit. You saw those. You saw those improvements also. We started making improvements, and the defensive injuries hit. Then the special teams injuries hit because so many of our players are on defense. When (quarterback Maxwell Smith) goes out, we go the other way offensively. Therefore, you don't get a chance to continue what you had hoped to do."
But Phillips said he understands why a move was made. He will coach the final two games, and explained why.
"It was hard," he said. "I don't want to be a distraction, I don't. I've had my Senior Day. I don't want an open casket. I don't want to be somebody's centerpiece. My grandmother-in-law, that's one of the things she said and I get that now. I want it to be about those seniors. Me and those guys, I've say in their homes and told them - this was one of my selling points - I wanted to watch them grow up.
"I don't know how many coaches say that, 'I want to watch you grow up.' I heard that from them and that's the reason I want to be back. 'Coach, you said you wanted to watch us grow up.' That's the reason why I'm doing it and the only reason."
Phillips says he has no idea what the next step in his career will be, but said he would take some time to figure things out. Asked if he needed more from the Kentucky administration, Phillips said he got everything he asked for. UK's football facilities and resources are considered some of the worst in the SEC, especially when compared to basketball.
But Phillips made no excuses.
"Bells and whistles don't sell places. They don't. They just don't," he said. "They help a little bit, but they don't sell places. I was at Notre Dame, and if you'd have seen the locker rooms and the meeting rooms, they weren't there. And they'd won a few championships there. I don't think the bells and whistles help. I think steady recruiting and, again, making sure that you have a (good quarterback) and then making sure you have your two upper-level classes stockpiled."
You can watch Phillips' press conference by clicking here.
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Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org