Incumbent Joker Phillips facing unlikely return



By Cody Porter | @KernelPorter

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America’s economy will have a lot of bearing on Tuesday’s presidential election.

Citizens of these great states are constantly becoming unemployed while having to pay rising gas prices, health care costs and higher deductibles.

That’s not to mention the everyday essentials they now have to cut down on to purchase other essential needs.

Still yet, go to a mall Saturday and it’s so tight an individual can hardly walk from store to store without bumping into a stranger. Contrariwise, travel down Lexington’s Nicholasville Road to Commonwealth Stadium, and UK fans think they need a bailout.

Whether it was on the drive in, a sparse tailgating crowd or the diehards who head straight to their seats two and a half hours prior to kickoff, fans Saturday undoubtedly felt actions spoke louder than words.

The game’s listed attendance was 44,902, but that includes tickets sold and workers of the event.

For those that may have watched from home, allow me to tell you there was nowhere near that many of your comrades in attendance.

The late stages of the game features collections of fans on the video board frantically waving their arms, in a way that is only comparable to Randy Quaid and his buddies in the movie Major League.

It has been a trend this season, mainly since the Cats’ loss to Western Kentucky that turned things south in the first place.

“It’s tough. You got to just take it and go out there and play. It’s a bad feeling,” junior linebacker Avery Williamson said. “We want people to support us, but we’re not winning games, obviously, so they’re not going to come out as much.”

For the longest time during UK’s 40-0 loss to Vanderbilt, the stadium favored that of Saturdays at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla. And if you’re not aware, that place has a tendency to be a desolate.

In order to keep spirits high, Williamson said he and his teammates joke about the stadium’s absence of support.

“We kind of joke about it on the bus like, we’d say, ‘The fans thought the game was at 7, so they’ll be here later,’” he said. “It hurts on the inside, but (we) got to do something about it.”

If this particular fan turnout wasn’t the final nail for Barnhart to make the move during the bye week, then fans must come to the realization that they must continue with their long-standing pleas for help.

It’s obvious the friendship between athletic director and coach is strong enough to show this atrocity through to the end.

What’s worse is that it appears for a second year in a row, UK watches on as the Southeastern Conference’s past bottom-dweller, Vanderbilt, ran roughshod on them

Vanderbilt’s win was the Cats’ worst loss to their Nashville foe since 1916 when the Commodores won 45-0. It was also their biggest margin of victory since a 48-7 victory over LSU in 1947.

How times haves changed.

Not only does it follow last season’s 38-8 loss, but it continues to show the Commodores growth after hiring young up-and-comer James Franklin.

Franklin’s program building has much to do with his youth, fire and excitement that UK has lacked, well, for its history.

Even when Joker Phillips was named head coach, fans had already got a glimpse of what was to come.

Franklin took what was a 2-10 team from the 2010 season to a bowl game and a 6-7 record by the end of 2011.

And after beating UK Saturday, they are one win away from doing it yet again.

UK’s time to shine has passed. It featured five bowls, NFL talent and a bright future. Mistakes are made, and Barnhart’s “coach-in-waiting” approach to Rich Brooks’ departure is obviously one on him.

Sitting 1-9, Phillips, like President Obama, is aware of the scrutiny he is receiving. And while the question of whether either return remains unknown, they have addressed their present circumstances.

“I get this business. I get the criticism. Nobody in this program wants this place to have more success than me, but I understand,” Phillips said. “This is a business based on results.”