Joker Phillips fired: Kentucky football coach out at end of season

Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE

Kentucky football has decided to go in a different direction, and Joker Philips will be let go after the team's final game in 2012.

The University of Kentucky has fired head coach Joker Phillips effective at the end of the season, the school announced on Sunday. Phillips was in his third season as head coach of the Wildcats, the first head coaching postion of his career. UK has stumbled to a 1-9 record in 2012 following a 40-0 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday.

Phillips hasn't posted a winning season at Kentucky, but did lead the program to a Compass Bowl berth in 2010. His overall record with the Wildcats is now 12-23, with just four of those wins coming in SEC play. UK is 4-19 in conference under Phillips, who started his coaching career with the program as a graduate assistant in 1988.

In response to the news, Phillips issued a statement:

We, as coaches, are measured on results. We didn't get the results we had worked and hoped for, therefore change is needed. In my current 10-year stay at Kentucky, we've had some memorable moments as an assistant, coordinator and head coach. We've had the opportunity to coach some fine young men and I am grateful to have had the privilege of watching them grow as players, as students and as people.

I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here. Mitch is the best athletic director I've ever been associated with. He's fair and honest and he's "all in" in terms of student-athletes' well-being. Rich is the best mentor a young coach could ever have. I learned a lot from him in terms of plowing ahead. They are dear friends. Dr. Lee Todd and Dr. Eli Capilouto have both been very supportive. I appreciate the Big Blue Nation and encourage the fans to stay behind their team going forward.

I love our players and am proud to be associated with them. I expect them to continue the behavior we have asked of them academically, socially and with football. I'm thankful for the staff's hard work, dedication, and what they have done in coaching and mentoring the players. I'd like to thank my wife and family for all their support and for being behind me 100 percent.

The Wildcats have yet to beat a BCS foe this year, with their only win coming over Kent State. The only one of their losses that finished with a single-digit margin came against Georgia on Oct. 20. UK followed that up with losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt by a combined 63 points.

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