Minter will be in charge of UK defense, Phillips says

ccosby@herald-leader.comDecember 19, 2010 

Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips watched his team fall to Tennessee 24-14 on Nov. 27 last season. UK has been beaten by the Volunteers 26 straight times. "I'm not going to talk about the streak," Phillips said Monday.

MARK CORNELISON | STAFF — Mark Cornelison | Staff

Upon announcing last week that Steve Brown and Rick Minter would share the title of co-defensive coordinator on his Kentucky football staff, head coach Joker Phillips never explained how such an arrangement would work.

Saturday, he did, saying "somebody has to be in charge" of the defense, and that somebody will be Minter.

Brown, the team's defensive coordinator for three years under former coach Rich Brooks and this season under Phillips, was not available for comment Saturday, but Phillips and Minter offered details about the new arrangement.

Phillips, who was an assistant under Minter at the University of Cincinnati in the 1990s, said he expects Brown to remain on the staff.

"It's been done many times," Phillips said. "I had a chance to visit with (Oklahoma Coach) Bob Stoops, who has co-coordinators on his staff.

"But with co-coordinators, somebody has to be in charge. You can't have two guys calling it, similar to my situation with head coach of the offense and offensive coordinator. Somebody has to be in charge of it, and Coach Minter will be in charge of the defense, in calling it, and making sure our daily practices are organized."

Minter, 56, said titles don't matter to him.

"We're here to bond as one," Minter said. "I'm looking forward to working with Steve Brown. I think he's a classy individual, a highly intellectual guy. We're all in this together.

"When Joker talked to me, I was excited and happy. We didn't even talk finances. I didn't care. I'm beyond all that. I just want to work for somebody who matters in my life; I want to work for a good guy. I could work and will work alongside Steve Brown. I'm the designee in charge, and Steve has already shown me great respect, and it will be reciprocated because I think he brings great value to us."

Phillips also tapped into an existing relationship in hiring Steve Pardue as an assistant coach last week.

Pardue, a native Kentuckian, has sent several players from his powerhouse high school program in LaGrange, Ga., to the Cats over the years.

Pardue will coach running backs but, just as important, he'll play a prominent role in recruiting south Georgia. Phillips said Pardue had turned down two previous overtures to join the UK staff.

"The hardest thing I've ever done is leaving (LaGrange)," Pardue said Saturday.

"But the reason is twofold. One is to work with Joker Phillips. We have a lot of the same beliefs on how to treat kids, and (second) is the University of Kentucky. This is my home state, and my family is a big Kentucky family."

Minter and Pardue have been participating in practices for a week now and will coach in UK's BBVA Compass Bowl matchup against Pittsburgh.

There have been whispers that Minter would switch UK from a 4-3 base alignment to a 3-4, but Minter said the defense will remain in a 4-3 for the time being.

"Matching the finesse and the flexibility of today's offenses, I think you have to be a little more diverse," Minter said. "I don't think you can always be locked in to having four guys with their hand on the ground. But you also have to be smart enough as a coach to do whatever it is your players can do. ...

"At some point in time, if we can do some other things, we will, but this isn't the best time. ... We're just going to do what Steve Brown incorporated right now, and we'll talk more and more about the philosophy in the spring, about what we might aspire to do and what our recruiting lends itself to do. We don't want to force a square peg into a round hole."

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