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Kentucky football coach retires after four bowls, seven seasons

By Steven Z.K. Nickels     Jan 6, 2010 in Sports
Kentucky head football coach Rich Brooks announced Monday, January 4, that he was retiring after seven years at the helm of the program. His replacement, current assistant coach Joker Phillips, had previously been announced as his replacement.
Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks announced his retirement at a news conference on Monday, January 4, after serving seven years as head coach of the Wildcats. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Brooks, 68, said after the teams 13-21 loss to Clemson in the Music City Bowl that there was an "80 percent" chance he would retire but wanted to take "a week or so" to make his final decision.
Brooks took the Wildcats to bowl games in the last four years, the Music City Bowl in 2006 and 2007, the Liberty Bowl in 2009 (to complete the 2008 season) and again to the Music City Bowl in 2009. Kentucky won the first three bowl games but was defeated in the 2009 Music City Bowl by Clemson.
Brooks said in the news conference on Monday that he had received text messages and calls from players telling him to stay on as coach for one more year. He said his four children also encouraged him to stay another year because they believed he would miss coaching too much. He said his wife was the only "sane" one because she told him to "do what he wanted to do."
Kentucky had already announced in January 2008 that assistant coach and ex-Kentucky player Joker Phillips would be the head coach when Brooks decided to step down. Kentucky is expected to formally announce Phillips as new head coach "at a later date," according to Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart.
The hiring of Brooks was controversial to many when announced in 2003. After serving as the head coach at the University of Oregon from 1977 to 1994, Brooks moved up to head coach of the St. Louis Rams for the 1995-1996 season. He then moved on to the Atlanta Falcons as assistant coach and defensive coordinator for the 1997-2000 seasons. When hired by Kentucky, he had been out of coaching for three years and had not coached at the college level for nine years.
Barnhart stood by Brooks while he went 9-25 his first three seasons at Kentucky and many called for his firing. Brooks worked to develop the football program at Kentucky, where basketball is King, and in the Southeastern (SEC) conference, which many arguably consider the toughest football conference in the country. The SEC includes teams like Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn and Arkansas.
Brooks said at the news conference that he expects to continue living in Kentucky. His coaching record at the school is 39-47 and his overall coaching record during his 25 years of coaching is 130-156-4.
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