Mark Story: Back off Hartline bashing

Quick hitters from eight days of UK fan hell:

21. A final verse of Hartline bashing. No sooner had the final seconds ticked off on Kentucky's loss to Tennessee, than some UK football fans were agitating for the Cats to use their bowl trip as a training opportunity for Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski rather than play fifth-year senior starter Mike Hartline.

20. Poor Hartline. Did Kentucky sit senior starter Andre Woodson for the 2007 Music City Bowl to train heir apparent Curtis Pulley? Of course not. No difference here. All Hartline did this year was have one of the best senior seasons of any UK QB (3,178 passing yards; 23 touchdowns with nine interceptions).

19. Joker Phillips' response. "We gotta go try to win the game," the Kentucky Coach said of UK's appearance against Pittsburgh. "... Mike gives us the best chance."

18. Trivia question. What will Mike Hartline depart the University of Kentucky with that none of his more celebrated recent quarterback predecessors has?

17. Tim Couch. Left UK with a 12-13 record as a starting QB (6-12 in SEC games).

16. Jared Lorenzen. Left UK with a 14-27 record as a starting QB (5-23 in SEC games).

15. Andre Woodson. Left UK with a 19-19 record as a starting QB (9-16 in SEC games).

14. Trivia answer. With a 14-12 career record (3-12 in SEC games), Mike Hartline will leave Kentucky with a winning mark as a starting QB.

13. Mister Cobble. I asked Kentucky senior defensive lineman Ricky Lumpkin about Cobble, the redshirt freshman defensive tackle who was academically ineligible this season. "He's a man. He's going to be a special one to watch," Lumpkin said. "He has all the tools to be an All-SEC to All-American.."

12. Bad UK sports stretch. Over eight days, the Cats lost to Tennessee in football, North Carolina in men's basketball and Louisville in women's basketball. For the Kingdom of the Blue, it doesn't get more hellish than that.

11. UK-U of L rivalry burns hot. Before the Kentucky-Louisville women's hoops game tipped off Sunday, the teams' starters did not shake hands at center court before the opening tip. I don't recall ever seeing that happen before.

10. UK men's basketball. Other than the disappointment of losing, didn't see anything in UK's performance at North Carolina that should discourage fans long term.

9. Enes Kanter. E-mailer Eric Richardson writes that if UK wins its re-submission of Kanter's eligibility case with the NCAA, Kentucky compliance guru Sandy Bell will "get her jersey retired."

8. Justin Burke. Have to be happy for the former Lexington Catholic quarterback who will be making the first bowl trip of his college career when Louisville faces Southern Mississippi in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl. It was the fifth-year senior running the ill-fated, fourth-down quarterback sneak in overtime in what became a crushing U of L loss against South Florida.

7. Burke's relief. "I never look back on a season, but I would have if we had not gone to a bowl. Not getting that one inch would have been hard to take. Now, we don't have to (look back at that). It's kind of nice," he said Sunday.

6. Dallas Clark. In six starts before his season-ending wrist injury, the Colts All-Pro tight end had 37 catches for 347 yards with three touchdowns.

5. Jacob Tamme. In the six games since Clark's injury, the former Kentucky All-SEC tight end has 43 catches for 445 yards and three touchdowns for the Colts.

4. Tamme helping UK? Tamme told me when I interviewed him a couple of weeks back that he hopes his success in the NFL this season is boosting Kentucky's football recruiting.

3. Kentucky says it helps. "Stevie's bringing a little more attention than I would like," Joker Phillips joked about the Buffalo wide receiver's now infamous tweet about his dropped would-be winning TD catch against the Steelers and God. "But (having guys playing well in the NFL) is definitely helping us."

2. Joker goes back to the future. Back in his Kentucky playing days, Phillips played not once, but twice in bowl games in Legion Field. How did he personally perform in the 1983 and '84 Hall of Fame Bowls?

1. Strong in Birmingham. In the 1983 game, Phillips led Kentucky receivers with six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. The next season, he again led UK receivers with six catches for 55 yards as the Cats upset No. 19 Wisconsin 20-19. Fans hope he can coach bowl games in Birmingham as well as he played in them.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader