Behind the scenes following Hartline's injury, Brooks had to be wondering how his team would survive without a seasoned signal caller in the pocket. He also had to be scratching his head over his defensive unit that failed to take care of business in a disappointing loss to Mississippi State on Halloween.
Freshman quarterback Morgan Newton is 5-1 after being thrown to the wolves as the team's starting quarterback. His first collegiate win came on the road at Auburn, and he's guided the Cats to three victories in the Southeastern Conference, with all three of those coming on the road.
Newton's only slip-up was a disappointing loss to Mississippi State at Commonwealth Stadium when ghosts and goblins made a short return to Lexington.
Since then, the Cats have won three in a row and are in position to finish in the upper echelon in the final SEC East standings. A win over Tennessee Saturday would likely land Kentucky in a New Year's Day Bowl game for the first time in more than a decade.
The credit to the team's success goes to Brooks.
Since he's been at Kentucky, Brooks has been hated and loved by Big Blue Nation. Many questioned his right to be on the sidelines after he went 9-25 in his first three seasons as coach of the Wildcats. In a time when records such as those aren't tolerated in a 36-month period, Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart stuck with Brooks and gave him a second chance.
Since then, Kentucky has won three straight bowl games and will be appearing in a fourth straight postseason game for the first time in school history this year. Since the turnaround began in 2006, Kentucky has beaten a No. 1 team and has rallied to win 12 games in the fourth quarter.
This season, Kentucky has came back and beaten Louisville, Auburn and Georgia in the final 15 minutes, a welcome change from the bad luck days.
When it came down to keeping Brooks or letting him go, Barnhart bucked a national trend and stayed loyal to his coach.
Brooks has taken advantage of his opportunity to make Kentucky relevant in the Southeastern Conference.
Aren't you glad he did?