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“Then I’d throw in a 10-hour (night),” he said. “I’m living proof that you can cram for sleep.”

The 49-year-old Leach said after years of poor eating habits _ unhealthy foods and not eating frequently enough _ he assigned a graduate assistant the job of making sure the head coach would stop what he was doing a few times a day and eat a proper meal.

Joker Phillips is 47 and in his first season as Kentucky’s head coach after 20 years as an assistant. He said he has made sure to keep good habits despite the demands of the job.

“I still work out every day. I still get the same amount of sleep. I just think this game is important to me, but my family and personal health is more important,” he said. “I am a competitor and I do want to win, but I’m not going to let this game ruin my life.”

Reading the sports pages the day after a loss does nothing to relieve the stress of a job that by its nature attracts ultra-competitive people who tend to put plenty of pressure on themselves.

“No. 1, you feel such a responsibility to the fans, to the program to do a good job and do your part, and that can weigh on you,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. “You feel such a responsibility to the kids that you coach. Those two things alone, the responsibility you feel is enough. Then add to it the day-to-day scrutiny that you get publicly, and that certainly weighs on you. Then add to it the patience or lack thereof of universities with their coaches.”

When coaches have a bad day, every couch potato thinks they could have done better.

Leach said he learned to not beat himself up when he had a bad game. The goal was to prepare as best he could during the week and learn from mistakes.

“If you do the best you can,” he said, “you have to be satisfied with it.”


AP Sports Writers Will Graves in Louisville, Ky., Rick Gano in Chicago, Beth Rucker in Knoxville, Tenn., and Noah Trister in Detroit contributed to this report.