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Kentucky announces coaching change, Joker Phillips issues statement

Early Sunday afternoon, Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart announced that the school would make a change in its coaching staff at the conclusion of the season.

"After much conversation, evaluation and prayer, I have determined that it is in the best interest of our athletics program to make a change in our football coaching staff at the conclusion of the season," Barnhart wrote. "I do so with a heavy heart for a man who has served his alma mater for almost 22 years as a player and a coach Joker Phillips has carried the banner for the Blue and White with honor and pride. I have enjoyed working alongside him and am thankful for his friendship for the last decade. His concern for the entire program, his work and teaching of young people, his humanitarian work, and the friendship we all enjoy with him will long surpass the scoreboard. I want to thank him for all of those things on behalf of Kentucky.

The search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be managed internally. I understand the challenge and significance of finding a new leader for our football program. It will be done with great concern for our student-athletes, students of the University of Kentucky, the Big Blue Nation and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Football needs to be and will be a championship contender in the SEC.

"The search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be managed internally," Barnhart continued. "I understand the challenge and significance of finding a new leader for our football program. It will be done with great concern for our student-athletes, students of the University of Kentucky, the Big Blue Nation and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Football needs to be and will be a championship contender in the SEC."

Later Sunday afternoon, Phillips issued a statement of his own.

"I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here," wrote Phillips. "Mitch is the best athletic director I've ever been associated with.  He's fair and honest and he's "all in" in terms of student-athletes' well-being.  Rich is the best mentor a young coach could ever have.  I learned a lot from him in terms of plowing ahead.  They are dear friends.   Dr. Lee Todd and Dr. Eli Capilouto have both been very supportive.  I appreciate the Big Blue Nation and encourage the fans to stay behind their team going forward."

Pure class by Phillips in a very difficult time. 

Coaches of the Week - Week 10

Plenty of coaches across the nation did outstanding jobs in preparing their teams to play, but the group below shined above the rest to win our Coaches of the Week for Week 10 of the college football season. 

Head Coach of the Week - Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana - Lafayette: Hudspeth's team became the first squad outside the Big 12 and SEC to defeat ULM with a 40-24 win on Saturday, snapping a two-game losing streak to their intrastate rivals. The 24 points was a season-low for the Warhawks, while the Ragin' Cajuns became the first Sun Belt team to drop 40 points on ULM in regulation since 2009. Quarterback Terrance Broadway was an efficient 23-of-32 for 373 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, while Hudsepth's team controlled the line of scrimmage by out-rushing ULM 234-74. The win moved ULL one victory away from a second straight bowl berth and just one game back of first place in the Sun Belt. 

Offensive Staff of the Week - LSU: Credit must be given to Oregon for putting up school records (and USC opponent records) with 62 points and 730 yards, but this week we recognize the work of Greg Studrawa and LSU's offensive coaches. The Tigers offense outperformed even the loftiest expectations against college football's top total, scoring, passing and pass efficiency defense. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger played his best game as a collegian, connecting on 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Running back Jeremy Hill became just the fifth opponent in Nick Saban's tenure at Alabama to run for 100 yards against the Crimson Tide (29 carries, 107 yards, one touchdown). The Tigers moved the ball consistently on Alabama by refusing to leave the field. They were successful on 10-of-20 third downs and ran 85 plays, which adds up to 39:15 time of possession, allowing the Tigers to penetrate for two touchdowns and three field goal attempts. 

Defensive Staff of the Week - UCLA: One week after slicing and dicing the USC defense to the tune of 588 yards and 39 points, the Arizona offense compiled just 257 yards and 10 points in a 66-10 shellacking by UCLA. The Bruins held the Pac-12's leading passer Matt Scott to a season-low 124 yards on 15-of-25 attempts. Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos' unit limited Arizona to 3-of-14 on third down, a season-worst 18 first downs, recovered three fumbles and forced seven punts. It did not surrender a touchdown until midway through the third quarter with the Bruins nursing a 42-point lead. The UCLA coaching staff decided to wear war paint on the sidelines and if Saturday's results are any indication, Bruins football just got itself a new tradition. 

Special Teams Unit of the Week - San Diego State: Special teams keyed a historic win for San DIego State on Saturday night, 21-19 over Boise State. In defeating Boise State 21-19 on Saturday night, the Aztecs earned the program's first win over an AP top 20 team away from home. Colin Lockett opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That play stood as San Diego State's only offense until Dwayne Garrett blocked a punt in Broncos territory and returned it to the 8-yard line. Two plays later, San Diego State had its second touchdown of the day and a lead it would not relinquish. 

Call of the Week - Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian, Cincinnati: A few weeks ago in this space we promised that any time a coach goes for two and the win late in a game would receive automatic Call of the Week honors, so respect must be given to Gary Patterson and TCU for doing just that in their 39-38 win in double overtime at West Virginia. But this award goes to head coach Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian for doing what no staff has done - calling a jump pass in the middle of the field. Jump passes entered national consciousness with Tim Tebow at Florida in 2006, and we've even seen some running backs execute the play in recent years but the play had exclusively been used as a goal line tactic until Saturday. Trailing Syracuse 10-7 and facing a 4th and 2, Cincinnati opened the second quarter with a simple hand off to tailback George Winn. As Winn approached the line of scrimmage he sprung in the air and found Travis Kelce all alone behind the defense for a 37-yard touchdown. Cincinnati would go on to defeat Syracuse, 35-24.

Lane Kiffin: "You've always got to look at yourself"

As recently as a few months ago, USC head coach Lane Kiffin has been criticized for what many have called a lack of maturity. The criticizm came to a head following his now-infamous 29 second press briefing in September.

However, none of that person was present during Kiffin's press conference Saturday night following the Trojans' 62-51 loss to Oregon. 

When asked how much blame the coaching staff deserves for USC's fall from preseason No. 1 to a three-loss team, Kiffin had this to say.

"All of it," Kiffin said. "That's what you do as coaches. For us to have the penalties that we've had, the turnovers, (it's a big part of) the three losses. The first two, we were ahead in those games. We should have closed those games out."

Perfect answer.

Kiffin continued, offering an assessment of his performance against the Ducks.

"There's things I could have done better," Kiffin said. "There were situations where I could have called better plays. You've always got to look at yourself. I could have put us in a better situation at the end of the half."

Obviously, offense wasn't the reason USC lost to Arizona and it wasn't why Oregon beat the Trojans. USC allowed a school-record 730 yards to Oregon, one week after allowing Arizona to compile 588 yards.

"If you have back-to-back games where you're giving up 600 yards, we've got to look at what we're doing," explained Kiffin. "That's not real sound and that's not where we want to be. I don't have an answer right now or else I would have tried to fix it during the game."

The Trojans defense dropped 32 spots in the NCAA rush defense statistic after Oregon posted 426 yards on Saturday night. 

With dates against No. 17 UCLA and No. 2 Oregon still ahead, here's hoping for Kiffin's sake he doesn't have to show off his mature side any more this season. 

Colorado AD Mike Bohn promises changes coming for football program

In an interview with the Boulder Daily Camera on Saturday, Colorado athletics director Mike Bohn took stock of the Buffaloes' football program, expressing the need to make changes. The Buffs lost 45-0 to Stanford at Folsom Field, dropping their record to 1-8 on the season.

"We're not where we want to be," Bohn said. "No one is happy with what has happened on the field, players, coaches, staff, fans."

In his second season on the job, Embree is 4-18 at Colorado. The Buffaloes are in the midst of a five-game losing streak, scoring no more than 17 points and allowing no less than 42 points during the skid. 

"Recognizing our shortcomings early in the season, coach Embree, his staff, our leadership team along with football professionals have been engagedin numerous endeavors to address our challenges," Bohn said. "We are working to correct voids now in an effort to not lose time before the end of the season."

Earlier this season, CU President Bruce Benson issued suport for Embree. 

"I don't like to micromanage," Benson said in September. "There's no point that I or anybody else is going to step in that I know about. So we're going to play it out. We're going to rebuild and be positive and move forward."

Read the Boulder Daily Camera's full report here

Sunday TV - Dallas and Atlanta square off in prime time slot

Wow. Some great games last night, complete with record breaking offensive performances and teams making their definitive cases for the national title game. We've got some quality NFL games lined up all day today, including the prime time game that has the Cowboys at the Falcons.

Eastern time listed.

NFL:

Denver at Cincinnati - 1 - CBS

Baltimore at Cleveland - 1 - CBS

Arizona at Green Bay - 1 - FOX

Chicago at Tennessee - 1 - FOX

Miami at Indianapolis - 1 - CBS

Carolina at Washington - 1 - FOX

Detroit at Jacksonville - 1 - FOX

Buffalo at Houston - 1 - CBS

Minnesota at Seattle - 4:05 - FOX

Tampa Bay at Oakland - 4:05 - FOX

Pittsburgh at NY Giants - 4:25 - CBS

Dallas at Atlanta - 8:20 - NBC

College:

No games

High School:

No games

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