After a tough loss to Clemson in the Music City Bowl last weekend in Nashville, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks told reporters that he was 80 percent sure he would retire his post as coach. This morning in front of many of the same reporters, Brooks made the decision official, starting off with a familiar phrase.
"I'd like to start like I always do, with the injury report," joked Brooks.
But his decision to retire was no joke. "I think that this is a good time to change the leadership in the program," said Brooks. "It's always difficult when you've done something virtually all your life. What made it more difficult was the players and the coaches that I've gone through this with," he said.
Brooks cited the tough losses that the team has suffered as part of the reason he made his choice to step away. "The losses take their toll. I didn't want my frustration to change the direction of the program," he said. "I think that a younger person that has been through it could be in a better position to take the program forward," he finished.
There were questions about what it would take to keep Brooks on as coach at Kentucky, many people questioned whether his salary and the salary of his assistants was the issue at hand.
"We were negotiating salaries for the (assistant) coaches and salary for me," he said. "In the end, it was close to what I asked for, but it was not what I asked for. But that was not the overriding factor. If I had gotten what I asked for, I would probably still be here today making the same decision," he said.
With Brooks making his retirement official, Joker Phillips will be stepping into the role of head coach for the Wildcats.
"I thought (Joker) was prepared two years ago. The administration agreed as well," said Brooks. "He's a Kentucky guy. He lives and dies the job," said Brooks of Phillips.
Brooks leaves the Kentucky post as a much better job than found it. The Wildcats went 30-22 the last four years under coach Brooks after going 9-25 the first three seasons.
While Brooks felt it was time for his retirement, the people around him weren't so sure. "I've had texts and some other calls from players urging me to stay, as my own children did," he said. "It seems toe only person comfortable with this decision was me. When it's time, it's time."
While Brooks won't be coaching at Kentucky next year, that doesn't mean he'll be absent all together. "Karen and I have really enjoyed the commonwealth. We will not be exiting. We will be around. I want to help if I can, to take it to the next level," said Brooks.