The Southeastern Conference is known for being the best football conference in the nation. All you have to do is look at the SEC’s track record when it comes to national championships in college football. Despite the fact that Kentucky went to five consecutive college football bowl games, the university is known for it’s college basketball team, which just took home the 8th NCAA Championship Trophy in April.
During the SEC Media Days this past week, Coach Joker Phillips was asked about football being a second fiddle and what the basketball program has done for football recruiting. How did Coach Phillips answer that question? After informing reporters in attendance that he is a Kentuckian and has been for a long time, he told them that he is “selling our basketball program” and would be “crazy to try to fight that.”
“I think it was unbelievable advertising of our logo,” Phillips told reporters. “Every time our basketball team went to the next round, playing in the Final Four. How many times did kids see the UK interlocking brand out there? I think that’s huge.”
It’s no different that ESPNU’s recruiting special a few months ago, which was followed by a repeat viewing of the Champions Classic game between Kentucky and Kansas. Anytime that the university gets ESPN love like that is good for recruiting, no matter what sport.
Phillips won’t limit himself to selling the basketball program. After all, he is the football coach!
“Now we’re able to sell us,” Phillips said. “We got them on our campus. We’re able to sell that we’ve had 40 guys sign NFL contracts in five years. We’re able to sell we have a streak of five bowl games. We’re able to sell we have great academics. We sell the things that we feel will help us win at Kentucky.
“I’ll say something else, too, about that.
“A couple weeks ago I had a kid on campus, a dual‑sport athlete on our campus. Coach Cal, he’s coaching the Dominican Republican team and Puerto Rico. Five minutes before he goes out on the court, Coach Cal calls me on speaker phone to talk to a recruit. How many coaches would do that five minutes before they’re going out on the court?”
I would bet not that many coaches, if any, would be doing that. But that’s Coach Calipari and what can he not do?!?
Coach Phillips addressed the rumors that he’s in the hot seat. In his second year, he started the season having lost 75% of the offensive production from the previous season. Many fans showed their displeasure. Some, like myself, believe that Coach Phillips needs to be given a chance. Last season was a rebuilding year.
” Again, it’s like negative recruiting,” Coach Phillips said when asked about being on the hot seat. “The time that I got to talk about somebody else’s program, I’m losing time when I got to sell the great state of Kentucky and what we have to offer there. It takes away from the time for me to sell our basketball program. It takes away time for me to sell our 40 guys that we’ve had sign in five years. It takes away from me to sell that we have unbelievable, unbelievable fan base that stick with us through thick and thin.”
Kentucky can be both a basketball and football school. Just give it some time!