LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky has fired football coach Joker Phillips, a day after an embarrassing loss to Vanderbilt. Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart announced Phillips' dismissal Sunday in an open letter on the athletic department's web site. The Wildcats lost their eighth straight game on Saturday, a 40-0 home loss to Vanderbilt. It was their worst loss to the Commodores in 96 years. The 49-year-old Phillips is 12-23 overall in three seasons at Kentucky. He will finish this season. Barnhart says the school will begin a nationwide search for a new coach immediately. The Wildcats (1-9, 0-7 Southeastern Conference) went to a bowl game two years ago but have gotten worse each season since. Kentucky is off this week, and then closes the season with games against Samford and Tennessee.