American Football Database
Joker Phillips
Current position
TitleWide receivers coach
Recruiting coordinator
Biographical details
Born (1963-05-12) May 12, 1963 (age 59)
Franklin, Kentucky
Alma materKentucky
Playing career
Washington Redskins
Toronto Argonauts
Washington Redskins
Position(s)Wide receiver
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Kentucky (GA)
Kentucky (assistant RC)
Kentucky (WR)
Cincinnati (WR)
Cincinnati (DB)
Minnesota (WR)
Notre Dame (WR)
South Carolina (WR)
Kentucky (RC/WR)
Kentucky (RC/PGC/WR)
Kentucky (OC/WR)
Kentucky (HC of offense/WR)
Florida (WR/RC)
Head coaching record
College Football Data Warehouse

Joe "Joker" Phillips, Jr. (born May 12, 1963) is an American football coach and former player. He served as head football coach for the University of Kentucky Wildcats football team from 2010 to 2012, compiling a record of 13 wins and 24 losses. He is currently the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Florida, a position he assumed in December 2012.

Playing career

After a standout career at Franklin-Simpson High School, including being the quarterback for two state Class AAA championship teams, Phillips played wide receiver for the University of Kentucky Wildcats from 1981 through 1984, under head coaches Fran Curci and Jerry Claiborne. During his playing career at Kentucky, Phillips caught 75 passes for 935 yards and nine touchdowns at the wide receiver position. Phillips played on the 1984 Kentucky Wildcats football team that went 9-3, finished #19 in the AP poll, and won the 1984 Hall of Fame Classic Bowl against Wisconsin. At the time of his departure from Lexington, he stood fifth on the school's receiving list.

After college, Phillips played two seasons in the National Football League (NFL) for the Washington Redskins.[1] Phillips later played for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Coaching career

After his career in the NFL, Phillips became a graduate assistant on the Kentucky football team. In 1990, he was promoted to assistant recruiting coordinator and in 1991 to wide receivers coach. In 1997, he was hired as wide receivers coach at the University of Cincinnati. Following two seasons in Cincinnati, Phillips made coaching stops at Minnesota, Notre Dame, and South Carolina. Phillips succeeded Urban Meyer as wide receivers coach at Notre Dame.

When Rich Brooks was hired as head football coach at Kentucky in late 2002, Phillips returned to his alma mater to serve as recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach. With the departure of Ron Hudson late in the 2004 season, he was named offensive coordinator of the Wildcats.

Phillips helped to rejuvenate Kentucky's offensive scheme. Under Phillips' balanced offense, André Woodson established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. In his first full season as offensive coordinator, Kentucky finished with a 8–5 record and defeated Clemson in the 2006 Music City Bowl. In 2007, Kentucky finished the season with another 8–5 record, defeating Florida State in the 2007 Music City Bowl. Winning the Music City Bowl for the second year in a row was the first time the Wildcats had won two consecutive bowls in over 50 years. The Wildcats finished in the top 15 nationally in points scored per game and averaged 460 yards of offense. In 2008 the Wildcats finished 7–6 with a victory over East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl.

In January 2008, Phillips was named as Brooks' successor, and his title was changed to "head coach of the offense". He was named head coach of the Wildcats on January 4, 2010 after Brooks' retirement.[2] Phillips was the second African-American head football coach in the SEC, after former Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom. He was also the third African-American head coach of a major sport at Kentucky; the first was Bernadette Maddox, who coached the women's basketball team from 1995 to 2003, and the second was Tubby Smith, who coached men's basketball from 1997 to 2007.

His 2011 Wildcats' season-ending 10–7 victory over Tennessee, their first over the Volunteers since 1984, ended the longest current losing streak against an annual opponent in FBS at 26.[3]

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart announced on November 4, 2012 that Phillips would not return as coach in 2013 after a 1–9 start to the season.[4] Barnhart did say that Phillips would coach the remaining games and finish out the year on the sidelines for the Wildcats.

On December 3, 2012, Phillips was hired by the University of Florida as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.[5]


Phillips was given his nickname "Joker" by his grandfather to distinguish him from his father, also named Joe.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (2010–present)
2010 Kentucky 6–7 2–6 5th (East) L Compass
2011 Kentucky 5–7 2–6 5th (East)
2012 Kentucky 2–10 0–8 7th (East)
Kentucky: 13–24 4–20
Total: 13–24
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game. #Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


External links