Sam Hartman has been enrolled at Wake for eight months, during which time he has begun his pursuit of a degree, competed in spring practices and preseason camp, won the starting quarterback position and led the Deacons to a season-opening 23-17 overtime victory at Tulane
He’s an intriguing story, and like most of you, I’m sure, I want to know all I can about him.
So I perused every preseason profile of Hartman I could find. Conor O’Neill of the Winston-Salem Journal and Les Johns of Demon Deacon Digest did themselves proud, but the most detailed and compelling piece was written by Frankie Mansfield of the Moultrie News – which makes sense given that Mansfield obviously goes back with Hartman to his days at nearby Oceanside Collegiate Academy.
The more I read about Sam Hartman and his story, the more I want to know.
In all these thousands of words, I’ve gotten a take from around a dozen people. Those I’ve seen quoted on who Sam Hartman is and what he’s about are his father (Mark), his mother (Lisa), his brother (Joe), his high school coach (Chad Grier) his Pop Warner coach (Mark Maye), two high school teammates (Jonathan Jeffries and Gerald Shephard), two college teammates (Cade Carney and Ryan Anderson), his offensive coordinator (Warren Ruggiero) and his head coach (Dave Clawson).
The one voice I’ve yet to hear on who Sam Hartman is and what he’s about – at least not pertaining to his time since he arrived at Wake – is that of Sam Hartman.
I would have wondered if Sam Hartman is perhaps mute, but having spent my career around college football and college football coaches, I knew better.
Sam Hartman is not mute. But he has been muted.
Everyone gets to weigh in on Sam Hartman, it seems, except Sam Hartman.
The decision that Hartman, as a freshman, is not available to the media is that of Clawson. In my three plus years of covering Dave Clawson and getting to know him, I never considered him a bad guy. He’s certainly a really good coach, and Wake is fortunate to have him.
I have no doubt that Clawson, in his heart, is doing what he feels is best for Hartman and the team as a whole.
That said, by this time in Hartman’s career, he has plunged into a heavy academic load, competed day after day in practice, faced down a Tulane team intent on administering grave bodily harm and, I’m sure, from time to time stared down grizzled teammates who have tested the bounds of his authority in the huddle.
Dave Clawson has entrusted Sam Hartman to do all this, and yet he has not entrusted Sam Hartman to talk with Conor O’Neill of the Winston-Salem Journal and Les Johns of Demon Deacon Digest.
It’s the instincts of every college football coach I’ve known save one to control all he can possibly control. And I can see how that would be a sound philosophy, given all a college football coach is charged with controlling.
But there’s also the countless examples of coaches getting so carried away by their authority that they lose perspective of what is right and what is wrong, and what is fair and what is unfair. The question I ask here, again, is it right and fair for everyone to have their say about Sam Hartman except Sam Hartman?
I’ve gathered that the media moratorium on talking with Wake’s starting quarterback will prevail through the month of September, during which time the Deacons will play Towson, Boston College, Notre Dame and Rice. If he throws a touchdown pass, or maybe an interception, the media covering Wake will be left to ask others why Hartman did what he did and the effect it had on the game.
Meanwhile, the media relations department has one of the best stories in the ACC to promote, without any input from the story himself.
Will the pressure build to make Hartman available, and if so, where will it come from? Will the ESPN crew assigned to cover the Wake-Boston College game quietly accept Clawson’s edict, or will it cajole the Deacons into an interview with, again, the starting quarterback?
And when Sam Hartman is finally made available, will Conor O’Neill and Les Johns – the guys who have faithfully covered the program since spring – get the first crack, or will they have to wait in line behind those with more clout?
Not a day has passed since last August that I miss being a sportswriter. I was done, just as I’m sure those I dealt with were done with me.