At a speaking engagement in Louisville on Tuesday, Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart made his first public comments on the state of the football program in weeks.
While speaking to the City Salesman’s Club, Barnhart said UK has some things to figure out with football, which is “not where we want it to be just yet.”
Barnhart’s address was captured and reported on first by Kentucky Sports Television on CN2.
“We made some progress and climbed up the hill a little bit and were doing some good things in a really tough league but we’ve found that we’ve stubbed our toes a little bit,” Barnhart said. “We’ve got to figure that out and we’ll get that figured out.”
He also talked about his relationship with head coach Joker Phillips, whose job status has been the source of much speculation with UK’s 1-8 start and winless Southeastern Conference record this season. Kentucky has lost seven straight games and will face Vanderbilt on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
On Phillips, Barnhart said: “Joker is one of my dearest friends. I think the world of him. We’ve been together nine years in some way, shape or form as an assistant coach, coordinator and now as a head coach. … I think the world of him as a man and as a coach and as a leader of our young men and what he’s done. We just have to figure out the football piece and how we get that going in the right direction.”
Through a Kentucky spokesman, Barnhart has denied several media requests to discuss the future of the football program.
The athletic director said he will evaluate the program at the end of the season, as he does all UK programs.