Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tim Tebow vs. Herschel Walker: Compare the TD Rate

I don't buy this "Herschel did it in 3, Tebow did it in 4" reasoning that Georgia fans (and Walker nostalgics) use to discount the SEC career rushing TD record Tim Tebow is about to set.

Actually, I'd argue that Georgia fans don't want to go there. Here's why:

In those "only three" years, Herschel Walker had 994 rushing attempts: 274 as a freshman, 385 as a sophomore, 335 as a junior. His 49 TDs came at a rate of 1 TD per 20 carries.

In 3.5 seasons -- and let's end this "4" bunk, because Tebow has only played half a season this year and was a part-time player as a freshman, as you'll see -- Tim Tebow has had 596 rushing attempts: 89 as a freshman, 210 as a sophomore, 176 as a junior, 121 as a senior.

Tebow's 49 TDs came at a rate of one TD for every 12 rushing attempts.

Let's say that again: Herschel enjoyed 66 percent more carries than Tebow. Tebow could play SIX years in college and not get as many carries as Walker got in 3.

What's the point? That while Walker played "only" three years, he had many many many more chances to carry the ball -- to score a rushing TD -- than Tebow had.

And yet, here they are: They still have the same number of TDs, because Tebow scored TDs more efficiently when he did rush the ball.

So beyond the superficial error that Tim Tebow has played "four" years to Walker's "three" -- which discounts Tebow's part-time freshman year and half-played senior year, which probably amounts to LESS than Walker's 3 years -- it's really all about usage rate.

With 66 percent more carries than Tebow, it is Walker -- not Tebow -- that had the vastly expanded opportunities to score more TDs.

Tebow was simply more efficient at running the ball into the end zone, both from a relative sense (based on the use-rate above) and -- as soon as Saturday afternoon -- in an absolute sense, too.


  1. Thank you for all of your work. I enjoy it. I am a fan of both Herschel and Tim and so I enjoy both ... One thing I would be interested in seeing is the yardage for all of rushing TD's scored by both of them. For example: Tim has 10 TDs of 5 yds or less, 10 that were 6-10 yds, etc. Maybe I'm wrong but I would guess that the huge majority of Tim's TDs are in the 10 yds or less category. If you can post this comparison I would be grateful. Thanks

  2. The length of time it took each player is irrelevant as the record is for total TD's in a career, and Herschel made his own decision to leave school early. However, if you wish to be even somewhat objective, I certainly would assume you want to add Herschel's 5 TDs from bowl games which are not currently included. There is no legitimate way to count bowl games TD's for one and not the other.

    You should have caught that one yourself in all honesty.

  3. I think the lenght of RD run is silly becasue Tebow's running is what got his team so close to the endzone in the first place.

    What I would like to see is Tebow compared to Hercshel and Herschel's QB/s at the time. IF Tebow comes close to matching their production or beats i I think that is definitive evidence of Tebow's greatness.. he will have outperformed 2 players player to positions by himself. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he does.

  4. How about the fact that the Georgia team in the 3 years prior to Herschel was a .500 team and the fact that they only lost 3 games during his entire college career. UF had a great team before Tebow got there. Point being that Walker made the team great. Tebow had a lot more talent supporting him. I also remember several times where Walker was taken out when they got to the goal line and they let someone else run it in. He also sat more often in the 4th quarter when Georgia had put the game away. Meyer continues to play Tebow in games that are in hand - to the detriment of Tebow's health.