A week after earning state-wide -- and eventually national -- headlines by following up a season-opening loss to by transferring to the school that beat him, Harlem (Ga.) High-turned-Lincoln County (Ga.) High running back Mikey McIntire and his family came clean with the reasons behind his controversial switch. In an interview with the Columbia County News-Times, the McIntire family cited a long-considered move to a new hometown as the real reason behind their son's sudden midseason absence from the Harlem football program.
"I wish football was the reason we've leaving," Tish McIntire, Mikey McIntire's mother, told the Columbia County News-Times. "I wish it was that simple.
"My husband's a big lake person; he loves to fish. We've been talking about it. Honestly, due to some personal family issues and everything, we were going to have to make a move away from Harlem."
That move was made now, just before the school year gets into full swing across Georgia. Unfortunately for Mikey McIntire, he had already gone through preseason football training with Harlem, a school for which he starred in 2010 and which was relying on him to provide a significant offensive engine during its 2011 campaign.
The fact that McIntire happened to head to Lincoln County, which he had competed against in a season-opening Harlem loss, only added fuel to the fire for Harlem fans who felt jilted by McIntire's sudden departure.
According to family patriarch Stanley McIntire, it didn't take long for the negative comments and press to start trickling down to his son.
"It started out with people being happy for him and wanting to wish him the best," he said. "They wanted to know the best way to get in touch with him.
"But when I talked to him, he was like, 'I got back in the car with mom and I had 30 something messages, all of them just mad at me.'"
While some may continue to criticize the McIntire family for moving their son out of his chosen school -- McIntire's older brothers, Stanley and Zach both graduated from Harlem -- or find fault with the timing of their son's departure, there are mitigating circumstances beyond the aforementioned "family issues" that made the move to Lincoln County more logical. Tish McIntire has long worked for the Columbia County School District, of which Harlem is a part, but left before the start of the 2011-12 school year. That made getting 15-year-old Mikey McIntire to Harlem harder for the family.
Additionally, the family insisted that if it had moved for athletic reasons, it's more likely that they would have focused on a school with a great baseball program, since Mikey McIntire is a well regarded second baseman.
They went with Lincoln County instead, and now just want the entire decision to fade into the background in time for Mikey to enjoy the rest of the 2011-12 school year -- and possibly even the 2011 football season -- without further incident.
"I could understand if the whole thing was up to him," Stan McIntire told the News-Times. "The problem is he's 15 ... and there are no circumstances that you can put him in for it to be his choice (to move). ... It amazed me, everything that was being said.
"We have the utmost respect of the coaching staff at HHS, and we know that they helped make Mikey into the athlete he has become."