Joker Phillips has been officially fired for two weeks and it looks as if Kentucky is no closer to finding a new head coach as they were the day Mitch Barnhart sent out his Dear John letter to Big Blue Nation on November 4th. On a recent podcast, I said that it is imperative that Barnhart names a new head coach by Christmas. Our football editor Kyle took it one step further and said that he needed to hire someone before Thanksgiving.
Now I know why.
Tennessee let go of head coach Derek Dooley on Sunday after another embarrassing loss in the SEC. Like Kentucky, they are 0-7 in the conference, but they do have four wins to Kentucky’s two. Now that the Volunteer job is open, all of a sudden there is another option for coaches aspiring for a new gig.
But it’s not going to stop at Tennessee. It’s looking more and more likely that Auburn’s coaching job will be open, as well as Arkansas. That’s now four likely coaching jobs open in the SEC. What about outside of the SEC?
The rumors of Chip Kelly to the NFL are heating up as Andy Reid is going to be ousted as the head coach in Philadelphia. Rumors are that the brass in Philly is looking to infuse some excitement into the Eagles organization, much like Reid did when he was originally hired, and Chip Kelly may just be the man to do it. Sorry Duck fans, but you may have an opening.
And what about Southern California? Lane Kiffin took a preseason #1 team and bumbled his way out of the top 25. The Trojans are sitting at 7-4 right now and they have #1 undefeated Notre Dame coming in for the season finale. And it looks like Matt Barkley is out for that game. Kiffin, who is the most overrated head coach in college football in my opinion, took a team that was a title contender to a possible 7-5 record.
So where does this leave Kentucky? If things hash out as I predict, there could be up to six job openings by the end of the season. As it stands, the Kentucky job may be the least attractive out of all of them.
My thought, along with the thoughts of the rest of the Big Blue Nation, was that the reason for firing Joker Phillips at mid-season was so that Barnhart could get a jump on the coaching search and hopefully name someone as soon as possible. With all of the other jobs possibly opening, does the Kentucky job become less attractive and does the preemptive strike become all for naught?
The fact of the matter is the football program is in tatters, but there is plenty of talent there with which to build. Kentucky fans want a big name, and in all honesty, this program needs a big name. We don’t want or need another Rich Brooks and we most certainly do not want or need another Joker Phillips.
But there is going to be a lot of competition coming from teams with pedigree and national championships. Kentucky has none of that. What Kentucky has is a talent base, rabid fans that want a winner and room for improvement. The only extra thing that Barnhart can use to lure someone is money. But, as we have seen in the past, money for the football program is hard to come by.
It looks as if the window of opportunity is closing.