The historic success of Alabama's quarterbacks with swoosh cuts in Bryant-Denny stadium has Kentucky's attention, enough for its own signal caller to adopt the style as his own.
"This is a must-win game for us," Hartline said. "We want our program to be considered in the upper tier of the SEC and a win over Alabama will show that. With a 'W' in that environment, the rest of the country will take notice and stop thinking of Kentucky as 'just a basketball school.' ”
“We've been overlooked for what has been called a weak schedule, but those were some good football teams we beat and our defense is awesome. If combing my hair down to my eyebrows like this helps our chances, I'm going to do it.” He then punctuated his statements with a hesitant hair flip to the side after an urging nod from a graduate assistant.
Starting quarterbacks, including opponents, with bangs have a won 36 of 46 games in Tuscaloosa since 2002. The Crimson Tide (5-0) will host the Wildcats (4-0) there Saturday (3:30 CBS).
“When our stat guys presented me with the numbers, I had them rechecked twice,” Kentucky Head Coach Rich Brooks said. “After I conferred with Joker, we presented the report to Mike and he looked up asked us when the cut could be made. I had it done immediately so he could grow accustomed to it with as many snaps as possible.”
“Some people say it's all academic, and that all young men in Alabama have that haircut, so it's not a factor in our football game. First of all, that statement is obviously false since there are a lot of African Americans in Alabama, and the last African American to sport that haircut was Question Mark of 'Question Mark and the Mysterians.' And that was 40 years ago, in Michigan.”
“Secondly, some young men in Alabama have male pattern baldness and shave their heads. Our guys have done the legwork on this one, it all has to do with crowd. We know what we're doing.”
Alabama faithful agree that the crowd can't help but give a lift to any player who sports the “Jackson Fringe.” “I've heard Hartline's already put in the extensions,” said one Alabama season ticket holder “so I'm not telling any tales out of school here when I admit that we can't help but root for a guy who puts some feathery side-swept locks out there on the gridiron.”
He then became choked up and concluded, “With the offense at their fingertips, barking out orders, in front of over 90 thousand fans on a crisp Alabama Saturday, and a wispy 'Loosa-Do topping it all—shoot, it's the closest we can get to seeing an angel work in heaven until the good Lord calls your number himself.”
“It's a big game for us and Coach Saban is letting us know we haven't achieved anything yet,” Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson said. “I'm not nervous about Mike attempting to lure the crowd into a silent awe to make his audibles and snap count effective.”
“Once I take that helmet off after our first touchdown, they'll see these sandy waves they've been supporting these past three years and remember who brought them to this dance,” he said.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban is rumored to have a counter-measure for Brooks' coaching-up of Hartline's hairdo. BearsTusks.com, an Alabama football blog, claimed that Saban has scheduled his next use of the Alabama University jet to fly in a Hollywood hairstylist. The reports are founded on tracking numbers, flight paths, and a cross-referencing of last names from a Crimson Tide Booster publication which were all readily available on the Internet.
Rampant hypotheses are pointing toward a Saban hairstyle that will make Hartline's pale in comparison. Some Internet message boards are buzzing with fears that Saban's “Montgomery Brim” could draw too much attention away from Wilson's and Tide's offensive production will suffer as a result.
The savvy coach was quick to fan the flames of the rumors and increasing his team's media coverage to close his last press conference before Saturday's game. “Can you tell me what kind of haircut Les Miles had when his top ranked Tigers lost to this Kentucky team last year?” Saban asked. “You can't, he was wearing a hat. At this time, I'll just say that I won't be repeating his mistake.”
For Saban's Tide to roll, they'll need to overcome a classic trap game with the Wildcats. For Kentucky, the game will be the first measuring stick of the season. And for both teams, they'll get to show a national audience how their products on the field fare, without any product.