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Report: Ex-Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips leaving Cincinnati

Louisville Coach Charlie Strong, left, and Kentucky head man Joker Phillips posed with the Governor’s Cup trophy at the preseason Governor’s Cup luncheon before they faced each other for the first time in the UK-U of L rivalry in 2010.
Louisville Coach Charlie Strong, left, and Kentucky head man Joker Phillips posed with the Governor’s Cup trophy at the preseason Governor’s Cup luncheon before they faced each other for the first time in the UK-U of L rivalry in 2010. Lexington Herald-Leader file photo

Former Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips is changing jobs.

According to Football Scoop, Phillips is leaving the University of Cincinnati to join new head coach Mike Locksley’s staff at Maryland.

A star at Franklin-Simpson High School, Phillips played wide receiver at Kentucky before serving as a graduate assistant under Jerry Claiborne and as wide receivers coach under Bill Curry at his alma mater. He was an assistant at Cincinnati, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina before returning to UK to join Rich Brooks’ staff in 2003. He was later promoted to offensive coordinator and became head coach when Brooks retired after the 2009 season.

After leading UK to the BBVA Compass Bowl in 2012, the Cats dropped to 5-7 in 2011, then 2-10 in 2012, when Phillips was told he would be fired at the end of the season. He left Will Muschamp’s staff at Florida after reportedly making impermissible contact with a recruit. He coached wide receivers for one season with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Urban Meyer hired Phillips for an offensive quality control position at Ohio State in 2016. When Ohio State assistant Luke Fickell left to become head coach at Cincinnati he took Phillips with him as wide receivers coach.

Locksley was offensive coordinator at Alabama this past season. According to Football Scoop, Phillips joins a staff that will now include offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Scottie Montgomery, running backs coach Elijah Brooks, tight ends coach Mike Miller and offensive line coach John Reagan.

In a related note, former Maryland defensive coordinator Andy Buh has been named defensive coordinator at Rutgers. Buh coached UK’s outside linebackers under Mark Stoops in 2015.

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