Joker Phillips couldn't help himself.
At the annual Governor's Cup luncheon and golf scramble on Thursday, the University of Kentucky football coach had the metaphorical ball teed up for him.
First up was Louisville Coach Charlie Strong, who lamented the Cardinals losing 14 starters.
"We're in the phase of rebuilding," Strong said.
Later, the second-year coach added that his team has "a whole lot of weaknesses right now."
Strong talked about seeing a statistic that indicated the Cardinals are the 119th-most experienced team in the country out of 120 schools.
Luncheon emcee Billy Reed joked that coaches always seem to shed "crocodile tears" at these events.
Reed said he'd just once like to hear a coach boast about how great his team was going to be this season.
Phillips rose to the podium and smiled widely.
"We're going to be pretty damn good this year," he said to a roar of laughter. "We're going to kick some people."
When the laughter subsided and the coach got into the nuts and bolts of the upcoming season, Phillips conceded that he has some of the same concerns that Strong has about his team.
"Offensively, there are some questions, but we do have some answers," the Kentucky coach said. "We've got to get a lot more questions answered in the fall camp."
And by the time both teams face each other in their third games of the season on Sept. 17 at Commonwealth Stadium, Phillips hopes to have a better idea of what the Cats have.
"He's got a young team and we've got some questions to be answered also," Phillips said of Strong. "I really like having two games prior to this game. Hopefully, we both can get some questions answered in those two games."
To be fair, Strong said he's optimistic, too, just not as much as his good friend Phillips.
"It's going to be a year that if we just get some young people to come together and we get some leadership, then we have a chance," Strong said.
Above all else, Phillips said as a Kentucky native, he's pleased that the rivalry has continued after it was dormant for so long.
"I'm just happy we're playing," Phillips said. "It's been a great rivalry and an exciting rivalry. ... We're just excited to be playing."
The UK coach said he thinks the game has been good for all involved. It probably helps that UK has won four straight over its in-state rival.
"It's definitely elevated both programs," Phillips said. "There's no doubt about that."
Bailey suspended;Faulkner 'on his way' to campus
There were two news items to come out of the luncheon news conference. First, UK senior free safety Mychal Bailey has been suspended for the season opener, Phillips said.
The UK defense got a big boost as it was officially announced that defensive back Glenn Faulkner, one of UK's top recruits, is cleared and "on his way," Phillips said.
Faulkner, rated the No. 1 recruit out of Illinois by one recruiting service, had been waiting for some paper work to be evaluated, but will be on campus when camp opens next week.
Fan Day set for Aug. 6
Kentucky has announced its annual Fan Day activities, which are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6 at Commonwealth Stadium.
There will be an open practice with an autograph session followed by a fireworks show.
Offensive, defensive and special teams drills begin at 6 p.m. (gates open at 5).
The open practice will run about two hours and be followed by player introductions and an autograph session. Fireworks are set to go off at 9:30 p.m.