It's been a rough few months for 2008-09 Card Chronicle Least Cool Person of the Year Mitch Barnhart.
First, the Kentucky athletic director was forced to fire football coach Joker Phillips after his Wildcats posted a 2-10 record and went winless in the SEC. Then he watched as the basketball Cats missed out on the NCAA Tournament and made national headlines for losing to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT. The salt in the already gaping wound came in the spring with the baseball team, which began the season with a top 10 national ranking and wound up not winning a game in the SEC Tournament and being left out of the NCAA Tournament.
Making matters that much worse for Mitch has been the fact that Louisville, Kentucky's chief rival, has spent the same time period making history.
The football Cardinals won the Big East and then stunned Florida - the same Florida that UK has gone nearly three decades without defeating - in the Sugar Bowl. The basketball Cards, championed by former Wildcat head coach Rick Pitino, then usurped Kentucky as the most recent national champion in the sport. And now the U of L baseball team is headed to Omaha for the second time in program history, a feat UK has still never achieved despite a number of highly-touted recruiting classes.
These are all things that must be hard to stomach for Barnhart, a man who once infamously proclaimed "we will own this state" and a breath later said about Louisville, "some programs over-market and underperform." And now he's being forced to sit back and watch as even a successful Wildcat program like women's basketball is dwarfed by its rival's run to the national championship game.
But surely even the biggest of Cardinal haters would have to offer up some genuine praise for what the program has been able to accomplish in 2012-13. Surely even "Silky" Barnhart couldn't try to diminish what multiple national outlets are now referring to as "the year of the Cardinal." No one could possibly be that petty.
"They've had a nice year. At the end of the day, they've done some things in their major sports and they should be congratulated on that. They've had a nice year."
"Nice" is an interesting choice of words. I'd say it'd be more aptly utilized in a sentence like, "Charlie Strong was being nice when he pulled Teddy Bridgewater in the third quarter against Kentucky," but that's just me.
Also, I can only assume that he attached the word "nice" to Louisville's major sports because its minor sports deserve a more lofty adjective. Because no one would be so trivial as to label accomplishments like the men's soccer team making a third straight Elite 8 and producing the No. 1 pick in the MLS Draft, the women's volleyball team earning a national seed for the NCAA Tournament, the softball team hosting a regional at Ulmer Stadium or a national championship in swimming as something less than "nice."
But maybe he was just taken aback by the topic initially and became less defensive the more he talked. Let's find out.
"At the end of the day, the depth of our program is pretty good. They've had a really nice year in their major sports. The depth of our program though, I think, it outstanding."
Ok, it's not getting any better.
Hold on, though, I've got faith in this guy.
"It's not like we didn't win a national championship two years ago. I know everybody remembers it, we won that."
You're claiming superiority over Louisville by virtue of the overall depth of your program and justifying that postion by referencing a year-old national championship in what is legitimately the ONLY sport that anyone respects your program for? Oh, and by the way, men's basketball is a "major sport."
And I do remember that championship. It was the second most recent Final Four I've attended.
It was nice.