Posted by Chip Patterson
Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips was the first to take the microphone on Day 2 of SEC Media Days in Birmingham. One question offered to pretty much every coach on the podium so far has been their reaction to Mike Slive's proposed changes from Wednesday. Phillips, who played wide receiver at Kentucky from 1981-1984, quickly voiced his support for the discussion of player benefits.
"It's great that we are having dialogue about paying players, or compensating players," Phillips said. "There's a lot of factors involved, I understand that. Having this dialogue has gotten us to the fact-finding phase of this thing. As we continue to find out the facts, and come up with some answers that might fit. We have to understand the answers are not just about football and basketball, but all sports involved. We have to take care of everybody, not just men's football and men's basketball. Whatever solution we come up with, I'll be for."
Here are some more highlights from Phillips' comments to the media Thursday morning:
-The second-year head coach enters the 2011 season returning only 15 starters from 2010's squad, and will be looking to replace starting quarterback Mike Hartline, leading rusher Derrick Locke and Mr. Everything Randall Cobb. But with 9 of those starters on defense and a lot of confidence in the next group he still thinks they should be competitive in the upcoming season. Their theme this year is "RISE" and that is his challenge to the players. With so much production, particularly on offense, gone - new stars need to rise to the occasion for the Wildcats to succeed.
- Although last year did finish with a bowl berth, Phillips pointed out that the 6-7 finish was a drop-off from two straight 8-5 seasons. His goal for the Wildcats is to be able to hang in the SEC East race as long as possible. When asked about how close they were to "getting over the wall," Phillips believes that his squad is approaching that level.
"We're very, very close," Phillips responded. "We lost a lot of close games. Things that will get us over the hump will be being the most disciplined team, being the most physical team, and having mental toughness."
- Several mentions were made to the Wildcats strength and conditioning program under Rock Oliver. He wants the team to be attacking, aggressive, and display the aforementioned mental and physical toughness. He thinks this team has done well in the two years under Oliver in offseason preparation, and the squad looks leaner and stronger than they have in a while. Phillips also praised new co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter, who actually got to to work with the team for the 15-16 practices leading up to the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 8 in Birmingham.
Keep it here at the Eye On College Football for more updates from media days from all conferences in the upcoming weeks.