Kentucky game to be emotional return for Florida Gators coach Joker Phillips
Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips will return to Lexington this week when the Gators play at Kentucky, less than one year after he was fired as the Wildcats' head coach.
Phillips spent more than two decades with the Wildcats as a player, assistant coach and head coach. Florida coach Will Muschamp said this week most likely will be emotional for Phillips.
“Anytime you spend a lot of time at a place, you have some great memories," Muschamp said. "I know as a player and coach there, no question it’s going to be emotional about that. Anytime you spend as much time as we spend, hours in the office, working hard for the university, there’s no question that’s part of it.”
Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who also is a former OC at Kentucky, said Phillips most likely will be a little anxious about returning, but believes he'll handle it just fine
“He played there and obviously coached there, I think he’s got respect for the program because he’s an alumnus," Pease said. "I think he understands the kids and where they’re at, the ones that he helped recruit. I’m sure we’re all a little bit anxious, if we were in that role to do that. But he’s, he’s not a person that’s mad about the situation. I think he enjoys being here. He’s excited to go back and coach there and I don’t think it’s any type of situation to be vengeful or anything like that.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said he doesn't believe there will be any extra emotion for this game from his players, many of whom were recruited by Phillips.
“I wouldn’t think that would give any extra motivation for us," Stoops said. "We ought to be pretty motivated as it is to prepare to play a very good football team. I think most people around here have good feelings about Coach Phillips and the work that he’s done at Kentucky. He’s a very good person and a good coach, so I don’t think that’ll have any bearing on the game.”