Tim Tebow is No. 2.
Vince Young is No. 1.
Start with Doc Saturday's caveat to lead VY's entry:
There is still time for Tebow's grand, myth-making finale. But on this deadline, he does not yet have the single, transcendent performance Young delivered to end mighty USC's 34-game winning streak on the biggest stage of the decade, in the Rose Bowl, for the national championship, with his team was trailing by double digits with five minutes to play.So the presumption is that when Tebow leads Florida to the national title this season, he will pass Young as the best player of the decade.
I'm still dubious about VY ahead of Tebow, even if you don't count what happens over the next two games for Tebow:
Sure, Tebow does not have a better record as a starter. Then again, Young didn't stick around for a third season as a starter.
Sure, Tebow doesn't have as signature of a performance in a title game as Young had against USC. Then again, USC's defense was porous. Compare to Tebow's 4th-quarter against Bama in last year's SEC title game.
Meanwhile: Young has one national title. Tebow has two -- one as the starting QB, one as the most valuable player (while still coming off the bench).
Even if you allow that Young deserved the Heisman in 2005 (which he did), Tebow has one Heisman Trophy, another finalist finish and an unprecedented third finalist finish presumably coming a week from Saturday. Young bookended two magnificent bowl games with one amazing season; Tebow is on track to bookend two great (but not spectacular) national-title-winning seasons with two of the best seasons a QB has ever had, including a Heisman and a national title.
VY had an incredible 2005 season and an even more incredible national-title game. But Tebow wins on sheer volume -- titles, awards, stats... not just for one season, but multiple seasons. It's not just that Tebow was spectacular, but there's just so much of the spectacular.
One thing you can't discount is Tebow's mythology, both on and off the field (because they are intrinsically linked). I'm not saying VY doesn't have his own myth -- he is the most universally well-respected player of the decade.
But VY's myth was almost entirely built on that single-game performance -- yes, the greatest single-game performance by any player in college football history. Tebow's myth is so densely layered and has lasted so long that it is difficult to pick out a single defining moment.
Which is a good segue: The defining moment of college football of the decade wasn't Vince Young's game-winning TD -- although I would argue that it was No. 2 (and certainly the most defining ON-FIELD moment).
But the most defining moment of college football of the decade was Tebow's "Promise."
Before the season started, I wrote that essay for the Gridiron Gators book about Tebow's place in college football history. I noted that -- as of August -- he was behind Vince Young, but that Tebow had every opportunity in the world -- with another national title, with another Heisman run, with more myth-making -- to pass Young.
I am willing to concede that Tim Tebow's season will not be defined at its essence until he gets through the next two games: The SEC title game and, ideally, the national-title game.
So if you want to ignore all of the evidence I laid out above as to why Tebow tops Young even before these final two games of the year, you can have your "Best Player of the Decade" title for Vince Young... for now.
But I accept the challenge: Let's plan to revisit the discussion once and for all, the morning after the national-title game.