I picked up this week's edition of Sporting News magazine (Jan. 19), the one with LeBron James on the cover, only to find a nice six-page story on the newest trend in the coaching profession: tagging a successor as "coach in waiting."
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Sporting News talked with future UK coach, Joker Phillips.
In the story, entitled, "You've got to wait," the publication interviewed four coaches-in-waiting, including Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts, Mike Hopkins (Syracuse basketball), Chip Kelly, who will take over at Rich Brooks' old haunts (Oregon) and Phillips.
Phillips tells the magazine that he now speaks regularly at Rotary Clubs and booster clubs around the state, in anticipation of the day he becomes the head man at Kentucky. He goes on to say that while previously, he was heavily involved with recruiting offensive players, now, he tries to get in front of as many recruits as possible.
The Franklin, Ky. native says since he was anointed coach-in-waiting, he closely watches Brooks and how his boss manages the job. "I've been trying to watch the little things that Coach does. There's so many things you don't think about when you're an assistant. How does he handle discipline, fundraising, all those things. How he acts at press conferences. How he goes into the locker room after a win or a loss. Clock management at the end of a game. I'm paying more attention to all that," Phillips said.
Phillips reiterated that he doesn't think Brooks should be on any retirement deadline. "I think that's unhealthy for all of us. I think this way gives him a chance to make the decision on his own, which is the way it should be."
When asked if he was ready to become a head coach, Phillips said he could make the transition tomorrow, if he needed to. "I think so. The things Coach Brooks has done here are great. We're on TV, we're going to bowls, we're sending guys to the NFL. It would just be a matter of keeping that going."
Along with responses from the other coaches, there is a nice half-page color picture of Brooks and Phillips at the announcement press conference.
In addition to going to being on TV, going to bowls and sending players to the pros, its seems the national media is catching on to the Wildcats as well.
Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.