Joker Phillips

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Joker Phillips
Joker Phillips visits KY National Guard in 2010.jpg
Phillips visits the Kentucky Army National Guard in 2010.
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1963-05-12) May 12, 1963 (age 52)
Franklin, Kentucky
Alma mater Kentucky
Playing career
1981–1984 Kentucky
1985 Washington Redskins
1986 Toronto Argonauts
1987 Washington Redskins
Position(s) Wide receiver
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1988–1989 Kentucky (GA)
1990 Kentucky (assistant RC)
1991–1996 Kentucky (WR)
1997 Cincinnati (WR)
1998 Cincinnati (DB)
1999–2000 Minnesota (WR)
2001 Notre Dame (WR)
2002 South Carolina (WR)
2003 Kentucky (RC/WR)
2004 Kentucky (RC/PGC/WR)
2005–2008 Kentucky (OC/WR)
2009 Kentucky (HC of offense/WR)
2010–2012 Kentucky
2012–2014 Florida (WR/RC)
2015 Cleveland Browns (WR)
Head coaching record
Overall 13–24
Bowls 0–1

Joe "Joker" Phillips, Jr. (born May 12, 1963) is a wide receivers coach for the Cleveland Browns and a former player. He served as head football coach for the University of Kentucky Wildcats football team from 2010 to 2012, compiling a record of 13 wins and 24 losses. He most recently was the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Florida, a position he held from December 2012 to June 2014.

Playing career[edit]

After a standout career at Franklin-Simpson High School, in which he played quarterback for two state Class AAA championship teams, Phillips played wide receiver at the University of Kentucky from 1981 through 1984, under head coaches Fran Curci and Jerry Claiborne.[1] During his playing career for the Kentucky Wildcats, Phillips caught 75 passes for 935 yards and nine touchdowns at the wide receiver position. Phillips played on the 1984 Kentucky Wildcats football team that went 9–3, finished #19 in the AP Poll, and won the 1984 Hall of Fame Classic Bowl. At the time of his departure from Lexington, he stood fifth on the school's receiving list.

After college, Phillips played two seasons in the National Football League (NFL) for the Washington Redskins.[2] Phillips later played for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Coaching career[edit]

After his career in the NFL, Phillips became a graduate assistant on the Kentucky football team. In 1990, he was promoted to assistant recruiting coordinator and in 1991 to wide receivers coach. In 1997, he was hired as wide receivers coach at the University of Cincinnati. Following two seasons in Cincinnati, Phillips made coaching stops at Minnesota, Notre Dame, and South Carolina. Phillips succeeded Urban Meyer as wide receivers coach at Notre Dame.

When Rich Brooks was hired as head football coach at Kentucky in late 2002, Phillips returned to his alma mater to serve as recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach. With the departure of Ron Hudson late in the 2004 season, he was named offensive coordinator of the Wildcats.

Phillips helped to rejuvenate Kentucky's offensive scheme. Under Phillips' balanced offense, André Woodson established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. In his first full season as offensive coordinator, Kentucky finished with an 8–5 record and defeated Clemson in the 2006 Music City Bowl. In 2007, Kentucky finished the season with another 8–5 record, defeating Florida State in the 2007 Music City Bowl. Winning the Music City Bowl for the second year in a row was the first time the Wildcats had won two consecutive bowls in over 50 years. The Wildcats finished in the top 15 nationally in points scored per game and averaged 460 yards of offense. In 2008 the Wildcats finished 7–6 with a victory over East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl.

In January 2008, Phillips was named as Brooks' successor, and his title was changed to "head coach of the offense".[3][4] He was named head coach of the Wildcats on January 4, 2010 after Brooks' retirement.[5] Phillips was the second African-American head football coach in the SEC, after former Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom. He was also the third African-American head coach of a major sport at Kentucky; the first was Bernadette Maddox, who coached the women's basketball team from 1995 to 2003, and the second was Tubby Smith, who coached men's basketball from 1997 to 2007.

His 2011 Wildcats' season-ending 10–7 victory over Tennessee, their first over the Volunteers since 1984, ended the longest current losing streak against an annual opponent in FBS at 26.[6]

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart announced on November 4, 2012 that Phillips would not return as coach in 2013 after a 1–9 start to the season.[7] Barnhart did say that Phillips would coach the remaining games and finish out the year on the sidelines for the Wildcats.

On December 3, 2012, Phillips was hired by the University of Florida as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.[8]

After the NCAA received a photo of Phillips sitting in a restaurant with a high school recruit during a mandated dead period in recruiting,[9] Phillips resigned his position as wide receivers coach at Florida on June 11, 2014, citing "personal reasons."[10]

In December 2014, Phillips was reported to be under consideration for the head coaching job at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.[11] Phillips was not selected for the position, which went to Alex Wood.[12]

On January 27, 2015 the Cleveland Browns hired Phillips as wide receivers coach


Joe Phillips, Jr. was given his nickname "Joker" by his grandfather to distinguish him from his father, also named Joe.[3]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (2010–2012)
2010 Kentucky 6–7 2–6 5th (Eastern) L BBVA Compass
2011 Kentucky 5–7 2–6 5th (Eastern)
2012 Kentucky 2–10 0–8 7th (Eastern)
Kentucky: 13–24 4–20
Total: 13–24


  1. ^ "Phillips, Joseph "Joker"". Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. University of Kentucky Libraries. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ Joker Phillips NFL stats at
  3. ^ a b "Joker Phillips". Kentucky Wildcats. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  4. ^ Cosby, Chip. "Joker gets a deal; When Brooks leaves, Phillips has the job". Lexington Herald-Leader. Archived from the original on January 22, 2008. Retrieved September 15, 2014.  Link works only with JavaScript disabled.
  5. ^ "The Future Is Now for Joker Phillips" (Press release). University of Kentucky Athletic Department. 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (November 26, 2011). "Kentucky ends 26-game skid vs. Tennessee, which will miss bowl". Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Joker Phillips out at Kentucky". November 4, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012. 
  8. ^ Associated Press (December 3, 2012). "No. 4 Florida hires former Kentucky coach Joker Phillips as WRs coach, recruiting coordinator". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  9. ^
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External links[edit]