Has there ever been a time when the Kentucky-Tennessee football season finale was more anti-climatic? OK, probably. But you certainly have to rank this weekend’s game as a Top 5 in the history of shrug inducing games. Kentucky is 2-9 and 0-7 in the SEC. Tennessee is 4-7 and 0-7 in conference play.
It is noteworthy that Saturday’s game in Knoxville marks Joker Phillips’ final appearance as head coach of the Wildcats. On the opposite sideline, Tennessee will be coached by Volunteers offensive coordinator Jim Chaney after UT dismissed head coach Derek Dooley after a 41-18 loss to Vanderbilt. It seems the Commodores have been coach killers the last few weeks.
While both fan bases are giving thanks this week that their respective programs are looking for new head coaches, it appears Tennessee fans will be a little more excited about their future hire.
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart is most likely not going to get a “home run” hire. A solid “double to the gap” hire maybe. Meanwhile, thoughts of Jon Gruden and UofL coach Charlie Strong are dancing in the heads of Vols fans. The hot name for both schools had been Duke’s David Cutcliffe. He’s apparently saying “pass” to UK and UT and claims he’ll be coaching Duke next year.
Let’s not forget there’s a good chance of more overhauling to be done in the SEC. You’d need a thermodynamic scale to measure John L. Smith’s seat in Arkansas and Gene Chizik is on the edge of finding a new home after a 3-8 season so far. The Tigers finish up the season Saturday at #2 Alabama.
The SEC has a chance to have a star-studded coaching lineup in 2013 and it’ll be a shock if former UofL coach Bobby Petrino doesn’t land somewhere on the college football map, if not in the SEC.
Saturday, a merciful end to the Wildcats disappointing season kicks off in Knoxville. Game time is 12:21 and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network (WAVE3 in Louisville).
Maybe this time next year, we will be talking about Kentucky and Tennessee fans giving thanks for their first-year head coach. This week, it’s all about being thankful this season is over.
Photo courtesy: UK Athletics
Joker Phillips was carried off the field by his players after the final home game