Joker Phillips 'living the dream'

Kentucky head football coach Joker Phillips at SEC Media Days 2010 (WBRC photo)
Kentucky head football coach Joker Phillips at SEC Media Days 2010 (WBRC photo)

By Dennis Washington

HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - Kentucky head football coach Joker Phillips says the last six months have been a dream come true.

"I'm truly living the dream," Phillips said Wednesday to reporters at SEC Media Days. "Not only am I a letterman, alumnus, a Kentuckian, for me to be able to lead the program I truly love, I'm living the dream, and carrying it out."

Phillips, who has served the past eight years as an assistant coach at Kentucky. He was promoted to head coach in January after former head coach Rich Brooks retired.

Phillips, who played wide receiver for the Wildcats from 1981 to 1984, said being the head coach is a lot different than being an assistant.

One of the biggest differences has been that I'm now making the hardcore decisions," Phillips said. "I used to sit in the staff room and give them. A lot of them didn't matter. Now I'm having to be responsible for those hardcore decisions."

One of the first changes Phillips made was introducing something he calls, "Operation Win," a program focusing on academic growth, community involvement and football success.

"Operation Win is in full effect," Phillips said. "There's no question about that. Our coaches did a great job of selling the 2010 class, and we finished recruiting strong. Our coaches also did a great job of selling our present players, which was important."

Phillips admits not everyone on the team has bought into the idea.

"The ones that haven't bought in, they will either be no longer with us or they'll be the best conditioned player on our football team," Phillips said. "We need those guys to buy in."

Kentucky begins football practice August 6 and will play its first game of the season on September 4 against Louisville.

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