Louisville, Ky. (WHAS) – The reaction from UK fans after the firing of football coach Joker Phillips was instantaneous.
Fans that normally see “big blue” saw plenty of red after a disappointing 40 to 0 loss to Vanderbilt at Commonwealth Stadium Saturday.
In an open letter released via the UK Athletics website, athletic director Mitch Barnhart said “After much conversation, evaluation and prayer, I have determined that it is in the best interest of our athletics program to make a change in our football coaching staff at the conclusion of the season. I do so with a heavy heart for a man who has served his alma mater for almost 22 years as a player and a coach.”
Some believe it’s time for a change, while others believe the circumstance set Phillips up to fail.
“I’m a Joker fan. I’m a UK fan and I think they do what they think is best for the team but I think Joker was handicapped in that he didn’t have the proper tools to do the job. A lot of people was hurt. He’s not getting top recruits and I think they should build the program more than just what they had,” John Schouten said.
Even with Phillips releasing a statement Sunday evening saying Barnhart was the ‘best athletic director he’s been associated with,’ fans feel things need to start looking up for the football program.
“Even though we did give him a chance and I’m sad to see him go, I think it’s time for a change. Every since Rich Brooks left, we’ve just been in a downward spiral and I think it’s time to see a new face in Lexington,” UK fan Will Devary said.
Barnhart said the search for a new coach will begin immediately and managed internally.
He feels Kentucky football should be and will be a championship contender in the SEC.