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UK Players Very Emotional About Joker Getting Fired

Posted: Nov 6, 2012 5:43 PM by Alan Cutler
Updated: Nov 6, 2012 5:48 PM

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His players wanted him to coach the rest of the season. That was the tough decision.

"You know it was hard because I don't want to be the distraction," says Joker. "I don't. I don't. I've had my senior day and somebody said, I don't want to be a send out. I don't want an open casket. I don't want to be someone's centerpiece."

Getting fired he took easily because his election day was Saturday when no one came to vote, when the fans didn't show. He knew what was going to happen. For Joker, he calls coaching at his school a great experience.

"All it did was strengthen me. It made me understand how important character is. My character got challenged a few times. It showed me how important integrity is. My integrity got challenged a few time. And it showed me how important loyalty is."

With all the attention on Joker, often times the players are overlooked. And, when Joker told the team he was fired, it was an extremely emotional room.

"He was hope," says UK defensive tackle Donte Rumph. For a better life, an opportunity to me people didn't have. I thank God everyday for him that he gave me for the opportunity and that he stuck with me through the hard times."

"Deep down I wanted to cry," says linebacker Avery Williamson. "It's tough. I called my mom and she started crying."

"First guy I shook hands with coming in here and I definitely wanted to make sure that he knew that I wanted him to coach the last two games so he could be a part of this with me because he's meant so much to me here," says senior center Matt Smith.

"It was a tender moment for everyone," says Zach West. "It's not something we wanted to see happen. Coach Phillips we know how much everything means to him and he means a lot to this whole team. A lot more than people think."

"They are like father figures away from home," says Avery Williamson. "Kind of like your family is splitting up."