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UK Football: How Joker Phillips Went from Taking the Reins to Saying Goodbye

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UK Football: How Joker Phillips Went from Taking the Reins to Saying Goodbye
Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

The University of Kentucky hasn't been considered a football powerhouse since the days of Bear Bryant and their 1950 National Championship season. Since then, UK has always been considered to be a bottom dweller of the SEC, content to wait until basketball season when banners and trophies were not just possible, but expected.

What few outside fans or experts realize, however, is that Kentucky has a very passionate and large fanbase that yearns for a contender on the gridiron. UK consistently ranks in the top 25 in NCAA for football attendance (with this year being an obvious exception), and the slightest hint of success will generally drive the Bluegrass State into a frenzy.

The Big Blue Nation got a small taste of this when Rich Brooks took over a probation-strapped program in 2003 and eventually molded it into a respectable program. While the Wildcats never became a powerhouse by any stretch, they went from constant losing seasons to four straight bowls games, being competitive in nearly every game and even pulling off the occasional shocking upset (like their 43-37 victory in 2007 against No. 1 ranked and eventual national champion LSU).

During this time, Kentucky had an up-and-coming assistant coach named Joker Phillips. Under his guidance, recruiting and the offense both saw a marked improvement. Add in the fact that he was a former Kentucky player (and bled blue about as much as anyone could), and Rich Brooks had a great candidate to keep things going after he decided to retire in following the 2009 season.

So what went wrong from there? The following slideshow will hopefully shed a little light on what led to Joker Phillip's disappointing exit from a Kentucky program that he loved so much. 


All game recaps and stats via ESPN.com 

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