Let’s start with a little logic exercise here:
- I am a good fan
- Good fans support the decision of the head coach
- The head coach went with Mike Hartline
- Therefore, I support the decision to go with Mike Hartline
That was easy, huh? Unfortunately, some fans are illogical. Because they were “present” at all the practices, team meetings, coaches meetings, and inside Coach Phillips’ mind throughout this process of selecting a starting quarterback at Kentucky, and they believe the Coach made a poor decision. And by “present,” I mean they read second and third hand accounts from message boards and blogs. Unfortunately for these fans, their definition of presence is severely lacking, and any negative feelings about Mike Hartline are unfounded.First, let me be up front about one thing: Mike Hartline is a friend of mine, and I think a lot of him. Heck, I even brought the kid to Hometown Pizza in Shelbyville, Ky. My brother Hunter, whose opinion I hold in the highest regard, is one of Morgan Newton’s best friends. My family is obviously very close with young Morgan Newton, and he might as well be a Montell in our book. I know Morgan took the news hard, and the young guy has every reason to be disappointed. I don’t know Ryan Mossakowski, but I have heard great things about that young man as well. I can only imagine he feels the same way. Its always hard when you have three great young kids working their tails off and only one of them gets the nod to lead their team. This is the nature of the game at a big time program, and I can only hope that Morgan and Ryan continue to work hard and keep their heads up. There are great days ahead for those boys.
At the end of the day, the coaching staff put their money on the #5 horse, and we should support that decision. While the other two guys show a lot of promise, there are many reasons to be excited about a General Hartline led campaign this season. Here are three:
1. This ain’t Mike’s first rodeo.
- This will be Mike’s third year at the helm of this club. In 2008, the Cats were playing good ball under Mike’s leadership, starting the season 4-0. I was In T-town when the Cats almost pulled off the upset against the Rolling Tide. Mike hit Richard Lyons with a beautiful deep ball to put the Cats within 3 in the 4th quarter. When Dicky and speedster Derrick Locke down with mid season injuries, the coaching staff was left with few offensive weapons. The decision to adopt the WildCobb formation was a reflection of this, and not the result of the cowardly boos directed towards Mr. Hartline. How quickly people forget that absent the last minute heroics of one Matthew Stafford, the Cats would have taken down the Georgia Bulldogs in Lexington. And we would not have qualified for our third straight bowl game had Mike not almost single handedly taken down Arkansas, either. That year, Mr. Hartline completed 172 of 311 passes for 1,666 yards, completed 55.3% of his pass attempts and had a quarterback rating of 104.7. Not the terrible season as many would have you believe.
- In 2009, Mike had the Cats 2-2 going into Columbia. The lone two losses: Florida and Alabama. I seriously doubt Timothy Couch nor Dre Woodson could get two wins in that stretch. Mike was just hitting his stride against the Chickens, before he went down with a leg injury. His track record is pretty good here, folks.
2. The kid is a soldier.
- People seem to forget the 2009 Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Randall Cobb was out with an injury, leaving Mr. Hartline to the job of bringing home the hardware. Kentucky entered the game as an unranked 6-6 club, facing the 9-4 East Carolina Pirates. That club was ranked as high as 15th in the country that season. Winning that game was no small feat. But here’s the unreported story: Mike Hartine played the game sick. Really sick. The young guy had the flu so bad that he was rushed to the locker room in between series. Mike won that game under conditions that most of you would take off a week of work for. Never question the kid’s commitment to this team.
3. Mike Hartline brings a lot to the table.
- I sincerely believe that Mike’s best days are ahead of him. Don’t get it twisted, we aren’t talking about little Todd Reesing. Mr. Hartline stands 6-6, and was a Ohio state high school hurdles champion. He comes from the same bloodline as Ohio State superstar wideout Brian Hartline, his older brother. With five years to learn this offense, there is no doubt in my mind that Mike has all the tools necessary to absolutely get it done this year.
So for all the haters: Mike Hartline is back, better than ever. And the fact that the coaching staff went with him over the two young studs Newton and Mossakowski, this fan base should be behind him 110%.