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When Did Joker's Demise Begin?

  • What was the beginning of Joker's downhill slide? I believe it was his very first game in 2010 against UofL. He got up early on them and instead of making a statement and blowing them out, he took his foot off the pedal and let them back in the game. Had he put them away with a lopsided victory, he gave them and Strong confidence. A young team with a new HC could have been destroyed on their home field with a big loss from their in-state rival. From there it didn't get any better and that comeback by UofL, even though it was a loss, gave them confidence for the rest of the year.

  • Though one could make a case for losing to a terrible OleMiss team earlier in the season, I'll go with 2010 UT game....Punted on 4th&2 at the UT 37ish yd line...Took the ball out of Cobb's hands late w/ a chance to win. Lost a huge game they really should have won. It has really been all down hill from there. Lost to coach-less/staff-less Pitt team in his only bowl game, after bringing Minter on board...And by 2011, His team looked lost & underwhelming w/ clearly evident coaching flaws everywhere.

    This post was edited by catcard202 18 months ago

  • The day he was named HCIW. Joker was never meant to be a headcoach. He's a prime example of the Peter Principle - he rose to the level of his incompetence. Not everyone is built to be a headcoach - a lot very fine cooridnators take the next step and fail. It takes a very special makeup to be a winning head coach. Hopefully, Joker hooks up with a successful NFL HC and is a pro position coach and eventually a pro offensive coordinator for a long time to come.

  • I thought something changed for the team mid way through the 1st season. The on the teams performance has steadily gone down hill from that point. There have been a few games that some have held up as bright spots, but they didn't impress me. Being competitive with UGa two years in a row and beating the worst UT team I have seen in the 40 years I have followed college football is no great accomplish ment.

  • He is not doing a good job. I understand that. But to make this comment this early in his career is completely false and unfair to him. There are several coaches that have started out and moved on to learn from past mistakes after failing at their first go around. With his approach and likeability factor I think gaining experience will be great for him and he will be successful in the future. I wish he had left us to take a job somewhere else before the hand was forced to make him head coach in waiting. Maybe he would have ended up here at the right time someday. But this is the wrong time for him to be coaching in the SEC unfortunately. I wish him the best of luck and hope to goodness he is successful moving forward.

  • Not sure about "his demise" per se but I think taking the ball out of Cobb's hands on that crucial 3rd down against Tennessee really stands out in my mind.

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  • This is dead on.

    The 2010 season was truly the year to win 8 or 9 games. I feel in my heart this team would have with Rich Brooks at the helm. At Ole Miss and the home game versus Mississippi State were major disappointments.

    The Tennessee game was very poorly managed by the coaching staff. Very winnable game.

    He lost the respect of his players in the six weeks leading up to the Pittsburgh game. Joker brings in Rick Minter in the first week of December as his "co-defensive coordinator". He totally disrespected popular players coach Steve Brown. The practices leading up to the Pitt game were long, hard, and Rick Minter dominated. When the players got off the bus at Legion Field the morning of the the bowl game, I commented that the game was over before it began. The players were totally deflated and performed that way.

    I am sorry that CJP was not even close to being ready to lead as the head coach at the University of Kentucky. I was certainly rooting for him until he lost my respect.

  • I'd have to go with the TN game of 2010 also. I think those coaching decisions on the punt and not having the ball in Cobb's hands late cost us that game. We should have won that one. Also, and perhaps most crucial was his decision to bench Hartline for the bowl game. He went overboard with that decision and should have just sat him for one QTR or maybe the half. That loss and losing season was the start of the end in hindsight.

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  • I really don't think individual play calls can be attributed to his demise. Sure there have been several glaring instances that have quickened it in many peoples mind but any one of them alone wasn't the instigating factor.I would look back at some key, early decisions that doomed Joker's tenure.

    * Joker clearly knew Steve Brown wasn't the answer as DC, you don't make the decision to replace him in year #2 otherwise. He should have been let go in the initial staff changes. Even if it was a large turnover, if he wasn't right long-term he should have been gone from day one.

    * Rick Minter has clearly been a disaster and possibly the biggest mistake in Joker's short era. He's abrasive, doesn't fit well with the rest of the staff, and his scheme is confusing at best.

    *I also believe Rich Brooks could have been an invaluable mentor to Joker throughout his tenure but something happened between the two to cause some friction. I'm not blaming Joker for this because I don't know the facts of the matter, but in any case Joker lost someone with a wealth of experience that could have given him some good advice.

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    "Kentucky Football needs to be and will be a championship contender in the SEC."~Mitch Barnhart 11/4/12

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  • I don't know exactly how to answer the question. I'm not going to rag Joker for first year mistakes because every coach makes them.

    But I do think the level of the team's abilities in 2009 (still Brooks) and 2010 was skewed by Randall Cobb's abilities. He made the team look much better that it really was. He was that good (and still is) which is a rarity in football that one guy can have such an impact.

    So whenever Joker's demise began, in his first year Randall gave him cover for inevitable growing pains. The biggest problems for me is when Joker does not win games he should win--games UK has to win. That probably did start with Ole Miss back in 2010 but the 2011 loss to a poor UofL team was extremely troubling and this year's loss of a guarantee game is the nail in the coffin.

  • The not putting the ball on Cobb's hands at end of Tennessee game is one of those things that's grown more and more as time passes but the reality is they did put the ball in his hands. It doesn't really matter now but if you go back and look at that drive it made sense why they called what they called. It's just an easy one to point to. Not to mention, he wasn't even the head coach in 2009.

    To me, the Ole Miss game was a massively deflating game and maybe the first sign of issues. So was the 2010 Tennessee game where they had a chance to go up 14-0 at end of first quarter, fumble going into end zone and 3 plays later the game is tied at 7 on the way to a 24-14 loss. Follow that up with the awful effort in the Compass Bowl against a interim coached team and that's where the train really jumped the tracks. They never got it back after that.

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  • Just so many things that all added up for me since he has been coach and long before that as OC...

    Basically an overall fear of success when its staring you in the face, and the subsequent pathological need to sabotage that potential for success.....a trait I used to always attach to Bill Curry and hoped would never have to use again.

    The previously mentioned Tennessee game with the way he pulled Cobb out at the end to feature his favorite Morgan Newton....of which it took almost the full four years for Joker to finally get it that this kid just doesnt have it.

    which mirrored what he had done in 2009 against South Carolina when Cobb alone lead us down the field to potentially win the game, only to be used as a 'decoy' (jokers word) at the end and handed the reins on the goal line to Wil Fidler .

    The entire Compass Bowl offensive gameplan against Pitt, featuring Morgan Newton in a Cam Newton type role....only their last names were similar.

    The game at Tennessee in 06 where we had the ball, late 4th quarter, goal to go down 5 and he calls the same inside handoff 3 straight plays to Rafael Little, never letting Woodson put the ball in the air until a futile rushed throw on 4th down.

    The punt against Tennessee in 2010, where his true "Bill Curry-ness" was on display.

    Lets put it this way, when we were basically handed the 2010 game against South Carolina at home 6 games into Jokers first year....I wanted to be happy for finally beating Spurrier but all I could do is shake my head cause I knew that was fools gold and the fool on the sideline was going to be with us longer than he should.

    Just think....Had we completed the comeback against Auburn the week before, its possible not even this trainwreck of a season wouldve been enough to be rid of him.

  • Ole Miss game his first year. That was a game in which we were 3 or 4 touchdowns better than them. We had a legit shot at 8 or 9 regular season wins that year. But we lost to Miss. State on the road and lost to a bad Tennessee team.

  • I don't look to a specific play or even game. I would say it was when neither Newton nor Mossakowski turned out to be SEC-caliber QBs. The commitments of these two were high points for UK football and signaled a bright future. The fact that UK had two guys who could be viewed as potential future NFL QBs and neither one panned out set the team back. When the same thing happened with their WR corps it was a nail in Joker's coffin.

  • ukcat15 I ask the question why neither Moss or Newton worked out and our WR corps fell apart? Is this really all on the players? It goes back to the need for a HC and staff that can grow these players into the roles they need to be. Every other successful team isn't just recruiting in all born superstars. They are developing their recruits. And until UK gets a HC and staff that can do this, we will have more of the same. It's call developing HS players to SEC players. And I know the higher star recruits you get the easier that job is, but not all great players are 4 and 5 star athletes coming out of HS.

  • Player personnel decisions and key in game decisions have proven to be the downfall. Both have led to fans, players and coaches not fully respecting his authority and decision making as a head coach much both earn and demand.

    Just to cite one example - we will never know what might have happened had Mossakowski been selected ahead of Newton. It was a very difficult decision and one that arguably at the time may have appeared right. But what if he had went the other way?

    I could cite numerous player personnel decisions like that which have proven over time to likely not have been the best decision.

    The same can be said of key in game decisions. Already mentioned is the lack of use of Cobb in the Tenn game. Not going for it on 4th down in some key situations, but going for it on other occasions when he shouldn't have. Play calling, defensive alignment to the situation, on and on ... it ultimately all boils down to decision making.

    A lot of it is a gut call. Other times it is wisdom to discern what is the best between two good options.

    There is a fine line between those that succeed at a high level, a good level, and those who don't do well. Unfortunately, for Joker, he has been on the wrong side of that fine line too many times.

  • rbs I agree it's a combination and we have had players not make good decisions for themself, teammates or BBN. We also have coaches that have not made good decisions along the way. Thus the result we have. How many more QB controversies can one team have? Every year we are down to week or two before season starts to name a QB. This does nothing to prepare the team be solid game one. Why do other coaching staffs not have this issue of evaluating talent in spring ball and moving forward? One example of many.........

  • Much of this is due to mismanagement by the head football coach and staff.

    Example: In summer camp 2011, UK went to camp with basically two quarterbacks......junior Morgan Newton and true freshman Max Smith (who had greyshirted and gone through spring practice). The other eligible quarterback was Bookie Cobbins who, contrary to what you might have read in some media outlets, could not have been an effective quarterback at Lindsey Wilson college. A speedy athlete....maybe.....a way. The fourth quarterback who went to camp was Jacob Russell who had transfered from EKU and was not eligible.

    Two capable walk-on quarterbacks were not taken to camp and ultimately, one transferred to West Virginia University and one gave up his football dreams.

    Injuries happen at the college level and as you may recall, wide receiver Matt Roark quarterbacked the Cats to victory in the Tennessee game. Roark won the game for UK and we all celebrated, but the situation was the result and created by mismanagement by CJP and/or Randy Sanders.

    Ryan Mossakowski was a very capable quarterback who I really believe would have had a productive career at UK had he not been deceived and not shot straight. It has happened to many players and that is why we are playing so many young players and have perceived unproductive junior and senior classes.

  • Issue #1 - recruiting classes of 2008, 2009, 2010 - problems included recruiting "athletes" designed to switch positions because of the success with Cobb, who turned out to be a player with remarkable ability and leadership (especially leaving us with a decimated, inexperienced WR corps), poor judgement on Mossakowski/Newton, etc.

    Issue #2 - keeping Brooks' staff for a year rather than making changes immediately (I can't help but believe the reason so many players transferred out is that they had developed relations with staff that were soon replaced) because they were mostly good coaches who couldn't recruit well.

    Issue #3 - Joker made such bold predictions pre-season in 2011 rather than admit the team was going to go through a transitional period after new staff were hired, players transferred or otherwise left, and our schedule was extra hard.

    Issue #4 - Whomever was calling offensive plays and controlling the substitution patterns (was it Sanders or was it Joker or was there an ongoing struggle?) needed to rest Cobb/Locke more in 1st half and early 2nd half instead of taking them out after they were "gassed" or leaving them in without rest which resulted in both having critical fumbles / missed passes late in close games we lost.

  • Exactly what I have stated many times. The blame is not solely on the players. And yes, we are playing alot of youth due the junior/senior class being "perceived" as unproductive. Thus playing 26 freshman. That is not something anyone at UK (staff/players/fans) should be excited about. Recipe for diaster in the SEC and it has proven to be so.

  • I agree with most with you said but #2. I tend to agree that Joker should had full right to put in place the staff he wanted but at the same time, there were maybe 2 coaches I would have liked to kept cause I believe it may have helped Joker. I don't like Turner as our DL coach, personally, I think the DL got worst when he came in. I would have kept Rick Petri. Nord should of been our RB's coach and I would of kept Ortmayer at ST's coach.

    Really, like a few have said, Joker has been really bad with the overall management of the program. We have really regressed since the Brooks era. 2010, we should have at least finished in the middle of the pack of the sec, a lot of leadership on that team and we were a back of the pack team.

    This post has been edited 4 times, most recently by morbidky84 18 months ago

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