Mitch Barnhart gave Joker Phillips a vote of confidence on Friday.
The Kentucky athletics director told the Courier-Journal that Phillips, whose team is in the midst of a four-game losing streak, would "absolutely" return as the school's football coach next season.
Before Big Blue Madness in Rupp Arena on Friday, Barnhart expounded on his earlier remarks.
"I said what I've always said. I stand by the coaches," the athletics director said. "We'll find ways to get better and keep plugging along. Nothing's changed."
Barnhart lamented what he called our "microwave" society that wants results now.
"That's what sports has gotten to," he said, adding that "Joker represents everything right about this program."
Idle this Saturday, the Cats are 2-4 overall with an 0-3 record in the SEC. Phillips is 8-11 in his second year as the Kentucky head coach with a 2-9 conference mark.
Since losing at home to archrival Louisville, the Cats have lost their past three games — to then-No. 12 Florida, No. 1 LSU and then-No. 18 South Carolina — by a combined 137-20.
The Kentucky offense ranks 119th out of 120 schools in total offense, but Barnhart pointed out that the same staff has produced offensive success in the past, including setting three school records in the past five years.
"He didn't forget how to coach offense," Barnhart said of Phillips. "We're struggling through a rough spot."
Barnhart said he and Phillips talk daily about the program and that the AD is a regular visitor to practice.
"We graduated or are missing (players)," he said. "All of a sudden, we're looking for playmakers ... There are way too many three-and-outs. The last three teams we played are pretty good. They can make life miserable. A lot of the athletes we've seen we'll see in the NFL."
Heading into Saturday's game, LSU ranks No. 5, South Carolina No. 9 and Florida No. 11 nationally in total defense.
A former UK player who is in his second stint coaching at his alma mater, Phillips was an assistant under Rich Brooks when the former coach struggled his first three seasons before leading UK to a bowl game in 2006.
Phillips was named coach-in-waiting after the 2007 season.
"We had a situation in our first three or four years, it was very, very difficult and we had to be patient," said Barnhart when asked if the current situation was more of a quick-fix or a long-term situation. "It may be a six-week fix. It may take longer than that."
Why is Phillips the man to fix it?
"He's been here before," Barnhart said. "He understands what it takes to move Kentucky football forward. He understands what it means to compete in this league and how difficult it is. Right now, we're short of a couple tools."
Staff writer Jerry Tipton contributed to this story.