The following is a transcript from head coach Joker Phillips' 20-minute news conference with the print media at UK's Southeastern Conference Media Days session. Fans can view the full transcript by following this link to SECsports.com.
THE MODERATOR: We're ready to continue with the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, Joker Phillips. If you could give us some comments on the upcoming season, then we'll take questions.
COACH PHILLIPS: How you guys doing? I had a bad dream last night. A dream? I call it a nightmare, but you guys might call it a dream. I dreamed that a fly flew in my mouth and Dicky Lyons was giving me mouth-to-mouth. He's still haunting me.
A lot has happened in the last six months. It's definitely been a whirlwind. But I'm truly living the dream. Not only am I a letterman, alumnus, a Kentuckian, for me to be able to lead the program I truly love, I'm living the dream, and carrying it out.
There's been some huge differences. One of the biggest differences has been that I'm now making the hardcore decisions. When I say, "hardcore decisions," before I had a lot of opinions, a lot of ideas. I used to sit in the staff room and give them. A lot of them didn't matter. Now I'm having to be responsible for those hardcore decisions.
For example, it's been making decisions in regards to this coaching staff that we put together. Had to make some hardcore decisions in that area.
What I was looking for in hiring a coach is, number one, can he recruit. If you look at our staff now, we have seven coaches that have been ex-recruiting coordinators sometime in their career. Does that mean that he is a great recruiter? Now, it makes him an organized recruiter, a recruiter who can sell our plan. So we feel fortunate to be able to hire the guys we hired because of their recruiting abilities.
The second thing I was looking for is, can he teach the fundamentals that we need to teach to win in this league. Can he teach our schemes that we have at Kentucky.
The third thing is, can he connect with the players we have at Kentucky. The third thing was, does he have "juice," meaning energy; does he have enthusiasm; does he have the passion for the job we have here at Kentucky. So many times I've been around coaches that don't have that at the school they're at. I want guys with passion, energy, and enthusiasm for the job we have here at Kentucky.
With that said, I was able to hire six coaches, five with SEC experience totaling 35 years or more. We hired guys that not only can recruit, can teach, have the juice and the energy and enthusiasm, but they understand this job in this grueling league that you have, to go through year in and year out.
When I took over, I introduced to our players what I call Operation Win. What does that mean to our program? It means we want to win in the classroom. Winning in the classroom by getting the best possible grade we can get. When we are winning in the classroom. Our GPA went up four-tenths of a point. We had 40 kids over 3.0, we had three that had over 4.0, so we're winning in the classroom.
Has everybody bought in? No. But the ones that haven't bought in, they will either be no longer with us or they'll be the best conditioned player on our football team. We need those guys to buy in.
The second thing that Operation Win means is we want to win in the community, by doing community service, getting into the group homes. We want to mold our young men into being productive citizens so someday they might have a positive contribution to society. If that is happening, the one thing you'll see is 'Blue Nation' will embrace what's happening in our place. That's what we want. We want the 'Big Blue Nation' to embrace what's happening in Kentucky. And they will only embrace if they feel good about what's happening at Kentucky. So we want to win in the community.
The third thing is we want to win on the field. We make no bones about it. We want to win on the field, winning on the field by getting into the film room and understanding everything we can about our opponents, getting in the weight room and out-working our opponents, and then taking everything to the practice field and perfecting the skills that we have.
Operation Win is in full effect. There's no question about that. Our coaches did a great job of selling the 2010 class, and we finished recruiting strong. Our coaches also did a great job of selling our present players, which was important. We had a really good off-season winter conditioning. We had a real positive spring. A lot of big competitions at different positions. It's in full effect.
Our 2011 recruiting is at an all-time high. Last year at this time we had two commits. This year we have 14. For us to continue to grow this program, the thing that we have to do is we have to continue bringing in talented players, and we're doing that.
I'm getting great reports from our summer workouts. The attitude is unbelievable. Our kids are working hard. We are excited about what we think can happen in 2010.
With that, I'll answer any questions.
Q. How do you envision Randall Cobb's role evolving this year? Do you see doing different things with him?
COACH PHILLIPS: Definitely Randall Cobb will be the source guy in the league, no question about that. He's got to get the ball in a number of different areas, whether it be special teams, punt returner, kick returner, whether he's lined up at quarterback, receiver. He's one of the most dynamic players in this league. He's excited because he just got named the all-purpose, first-team all-purpose. And it's by the coaches, which makes him feel good about that accomplishment.
He's now trying to convince me that he can play DB. We're not ready to do that yet. But he's a guy that has to touch the ball, and has to touch the ball in numerous positions.
We don't want an always, where Randall Cobb is always lined up on the same formation on all same side. I think it makes it easier for teams to defend him and harder for us to get the football to him.
Q. Coach Brooks made a lot of inroads into the state of South Carolina for recruiting purposes. You have South Carolina guys on the roster. Is that something you'll keep trying to do as you continue the program?
COACH PHILLIPS: Definitely. When I coached at the University of South Carolina in 2002, I was the lead recruiter there. We'll continue that. I have a lot of contacts. I think we signed five or six players this past year. When you sign five or six, the thing you have to do is go back immediately. We cannot stop going into South Carolina 'cause we have kids on our roster which makes it easier to attract more guys from South Carolina on our roster. We'll continue that as one of our primary areas that we'll recruit.
Q. How do you see offense in college football and at Kentucky evolving? There's so much proliferation of the spread offense now. Do you see that continuing to explode or do you see maybe a shift towards something else?
COACH PHILLIPS: I see it continuing. I really do. What you're seeing in the high school ranks, you're seeing more athletic quarterbacks. You're not seeing a lot of the pro-style quarterbacks. High school programs are using the spread, and therefore the type of quarterbacks that are out there that are pro-style, which is what -- we are not a two-back pro-style offense. We are more of a one-back spread pro-style offense. There's not a lot of those type of quarterbacks.
We've been able to attract those types of quarterbacks because of the style we play. We're not a big zone-read team, which you need more of an athletic quarterback. We're more of a hard play-action, let the runningback be the guy that gets you the yardage on the ground.