Strong on Stoops, Phillips

At various times, the coaches of Louisville and Kentucky crisscrossed the state of Florida, but they haven’t spent a good deal of time together and don’t know each other well.

“I was here when he was at Florida State, so we didn’t have a chance to see one another or talk to one another,” Cardinals Coach Charlie Strong said of UK’s Mark Stoops. “When he was at Florida State and Miami, I wasn’t in the state then, so I don’t have any relationship.”

For his part, Stoops said while he doesn’t know Strong well, he is quite familiar with his work.

“I’ve known Charlie for a while,” Stoops said of the long-time former Florida assistant. “I can’t recall the first time we crossed paths or whatnot, but just being defensive guys, and I have a lot of respect for Charlie and what he’s done and have known him for a while.”

Strong was more than familiar with former Cats coach Joker Phillips. The two were on the same staff together at South Carolina and lived one house apart.

Strong was hired as a head coach the same season as Phillips, but their paths diverged. Phillips was fired at UK after going 13-24 in three seasons and Strong going 25-14, including an 11-2 season last year and a Sugar Bowl victory.

Despite their prior close relationship Strong said on Monday that he has not been in touch with Phillips, now the wide receivers coach at Florida.

“No, I haven’t said much to Joker,” Strong said.

When asked if it would be strange to coach against a UK team without his former neighbor on the opposing sideline, Strong seemed unfazed.

“Each week you coach against a different guy, so Joker’s been on the sideline, but he’s moved on somewhere else.”

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at
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