Kentucky coach Rich Brooks announces retirement
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky coach Rich Brooks has announced that he is retiring after seven seasons coaching the Wildcats.
Brooks made the announcement on Monday. He will be replaced by offensive head coach Joker Phillips, who agreed to become Brooks’ eventual successor two years ago.
“This is the end of the road of the old man’s coaching career,” Brooks said.
Brooks finishes his career with a 39-47 record at Kentucky. He went 130-156-4 overall in 25 seasons overall at the collegiate level. Brooks posted a 13-19 record coaching the NFL’s St. Louis Rams in the mid-1990s.
The 68-year-old Brooks said following Kentucky’s 21-13 loss to Clemson in the Music City Bowl he was “80 percent” sure he’d retired. Despite calls from former players and his own children suggesting he stay on, Brooks said he knew it was time to step aside.
“The only person that was comfortable with this decision was me,” he said. “When it’s time, it’s time.”
The Wildcats were an NCAA-sanctioned mess when Brooks took over before the 2003 season. The Wildcats struggled during his first three years, going just 9-25.
He began his media day press conference before the 2006 season by joking, “I’m back.” The year began with the Wildcats’ first real steps toward respectability in the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky went 8-5 that season, beating Georgia and then Clemson in the Music City Bowl.
Another 8-5 season followed in 2007, including an upset of eventual national champion LSU. The Wildcats scratched out a 7-6 year in 2008 despite major problems on offense and posted another 7-6 season this year, including road wins over Georgia and Auburn.
Still, Brooks lamented the near misses the Wildcats suffered during his tenure, including another tough loss to rival Tennessee in the season finale.
“It has been a good ride, a very bumpy ride,” Brooks said. “The start of it was really, really bumpy. The end of it had some bumps because we were close to achieving some things that I feel unfilled at this point not having achieved.”
The rebuilding project at Kentucky was the second of his long career. He revived a moribund Oregon program after taking over in 1977, eventually leading the Ducks to the Rose Bowl in his final season in 1994.
His success with the Ducks helped him land a shot coaching the Rams, but was fired after two underwhelming seasons.