COLUMN: My letter to Mike (Hartline, that is)

Dear Mike,

Foremost, please excuse the informality of this note, as I have never actually addressed any athlete via letter before. Also, my letter-writing skills are generally rough anyway.

I would first like to say I noticed you buzzed-cut your hair strikingly similar to mine (for those readers looking and my mug shot muttering “his hair looks nothing like Hartline’s,” relax, it’s not an updated picture). It is quite an honor to be able to say the UK starting quarterback, who is playing quite great, copied my hairstyle. Since you’re significantly bigger than I am and have a team full of mammoths on your side, I’ll let it slide … this time.

But I digress.

On a serious note, you’re playing well, very well, in fact. Not that the approval of the media is what you’re seeking, but it’s true. You are coming off a game that you and Joker (Phillips) seem to agree was the best game of your career against the No. 10 team in the nation in South Carolina.

I, as well as most Cats’ fans, am extremely impressed. Through seven games (this part is more for the readers and less for you, Mike), you’ve completed just over 68 percent of your passes, racked up nearly 1,800 yards, are averaging nearly 260 yards per game and have thrown 13 touchdowns to only three interceptions.

You’re hitting your throws on slant routes, corner routes, deep routes, the whole bit. Short, long, you name it. In case you didn’t know, you began the previous two games against Auburn and South Carolina completing 14-of-14 and 11-of-11 passes, respectively.

I mean, damn.

You’re already performing leaps and bounds over your recent outings, and that’s rightfully deserved.

At least a few of, if not all, your teammates share my sentiment.

Said Randall Cobb following the South Carolina game: “I’ve been saying this for the longest time, Mike is the best quarterback I’ve ever been around. Just the things he is able to do, and now he is finally getting that chance because he has people around him who can help him out.”

And Joker agrees.

“Mike Hartline is playing his tail off, please recognize that. He is playing like an SEC quarterback is supposed to play,” he said after the game against the Tigers.

I’ve also noticed you haven’t let the negative scrutiny get to your head, which is something I admire. Coming into the season, you were fighting an uphill battle — I think you’ve won the battle. You’ve fought through adversity and proved to yourself and everyone watching you are the right person for the job here at UK.

Any remaining critics should be silenced. Keep up the great work, Mike. (And I dig the haircut).


Chandler H.