There is no definitive answer to whether Joker Phillips may be entering the final three games as head coach of Kentucky's football team but the uncertainty hasn't thrown a wet blanket over his sense of humor.
Phillips refused to bite on questions about his job status, dismissing several columns and stories from local media outlets suggesting Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart should make the announcement that week that he won't return in 2013.
“I was coming over here today, and I got in the car, and my seat was hot,” Phillips said. “I looked up, and I'd hit the seat warmer.”
If Phillips is feeling the pressure of a 1-8 season internally he sure isn't displaying it externally. Despite holding a 12-22 record deep into his third season, including a 4-18 mark in Southeastern Conference play, Phillips has maintained a positive public persona. He has also attempted to shield his team from the constant questions about his future.
“I don't ever bring it up,” Phillips said. “They're 18 to 22 years old. Those guys need to be able to have fun, go to school, and play ball. That's what they're here for.”
Of more immediate nature is how Kentucky finishes out the 2012 season and whether Phillips does so without change in his status as head coach. The Wildcats are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, but Phillips said he still has not had any significant conversation with Barnhart about the future of the program, most notably his status.
“No, it hasn't changed,” Phillips said of whether he had discussed the situation with Barnhart in the past few weeks. “We have talked. Again, just, hey, how are you doing? I'm doing good. Just small talk. Talking like friends do weekly.”
Pressed on whether they had in-depth conversations about the team's performance, Phillips was more direct.
“No, we have not, and that's been his policy to wait till the end of the year,” he said.
Interview requests for Barnhart by The Cats' Pause and other local media outlets have not been granted to this point, with UK football spokesman Tony Neely saying Barnhart intends to follow his past protocol and evaluate the football situation at the conclusion of the 2012 season on Nov. 24 at Tennessee.
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