KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart made himself available to reporters for the first time since relieving Joker Phillips of his duties on Nov. 4, discussing the ongoing football coaching search.
The following is a transcript of Barnhart's comments in full:
"We continue to work through the process," Barnhart said. "The goal is to continue to build up the foundation that Joker has put in place. The young talent that we've got, the respect and the accountability that he's gained in the locker room, the way we conduct our business, those are the things we want to build upon. We've working at it and we'll work our way through that process. We won't short-circuit that. I don't think there's any reason to do that. We'll let you know when we get done.
"It's a good job. People are excited about the opportunity to coach in our league, to coach at the University of Kentucky and we'll continue to work at that. That's sort of where we are. That's the update we have."
DO YOU HAVE A TIMETABLE IN MIND?
"We don't have a timetable," Barnhart said. "Like I said, we 'll respect the process and continue to work our way through it. We've been working at it since we made the change a couple of weeks ago. The players have been great through the whole process. The coaching staff has been wonderful through the process. Joker has been as class as class can be. He's been an amazing guy, which hasn't changed at all. Just exactly what you would expect. He expected our players to conduct themselves a certain way and he's been an absolute example of how to do that. I respect him very, very much. On a day when we close our season down that's about where I'll leave it with you today."
HAVE POTENTIAL CANDIDATES BEEN MORE RESPONSIVE THIS TIME THAN BEFORE RICH BROOKS WAS HIRED?
"No one has been offered the job," Barnhart said. "People have been responsive to talk about the job. It was much different last time, we were on probation looking at 19 scholarships and there wasn't a lot of folks thinking it was a really great opportunity. Coach Brooks came in here, took it by the horns and fought through some really, really difficult times.
"The opportunity we have ahead of us, as you saw today, we put up more than 400 yards of offense, we've got some young guys still trying to figure out what to do and how to get it in the end zone and finish those pieces. That will come. The person that walks in will have the opportunity to inherit some of that young talent. There are obviously some things we need to get better (at) and we all know that, that's why we're in this position but we do have some young players in this locker room that do care about this program and have a chance to move it forward. We'll just continue to work through it."
DO YOU HAVE ANYONE HELPING YOU WITH THE SEARCH?
"We're working our way through the process," Barnhart said. "That's for me to know and at the end of the deal we'll work our way through all that. I've got a good staff and we've got good folks."
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC QUALITIES YOU'RE LOOKING FOR? OFFENSIVE COACH? DEFENSIVE?
"I'm not going to get into specifics really," Barnhart said. "I want a person that...we always talk about you'll know when you see it and you'll know when you feel it and talk about fit. We'll work our way through that. There is no blueprint for these things. I've seen them work a lot of different ways at a lot of different places, schools that have a lot more tradition, a lot less tradition, mid-majors, big-time places, there's blueprint for these types of things. We're looking for the right fit. We'll continue to work our way through that.
"I appreciate it. Everybody's been patient. Misinformation flies around and I get all that, so I won't respond to that noise, we'll just keep working our way as we always have here for the last 10 or so years. I appreciate the way you all have respected our team and coaches and hopefully we'll get to you sooner rather than later."