Friday, July 31, 2009

EDSBS on Tampa's New Rhino: Name It Tebow

EDSBS FTW: The Tampa zoo has a new baby rhino. As Orson argues: How can you NOT name it "Tebow?"

This really is a no-brainer. Is it possible for Orson's post to inspire a popular/populist surge in central Florida to make this happen?

Yes, Tim Tebow Wears Glasses

So one of the more intriguing images of the offseason was of Tim Tebow at the 2009 ESPYs, sporting Palinesque glasses. Who knew he wore glasses?

The Gainesville Sun's indispensable Pat Dooley gets to the bottom of it:

Tebow... said he doesn’t wear them all the time. At first he tried contacts but didn’t like them. He just started wearing the glasses a few weeks ago.

Tebow didn’t sport the specs at SEC Media Days and doesn’t plan to wear glasses or contacts during the season.
Intrigue resolved. Oh, and per Dooley, even without the glasses: "He can see streaking receivers just fine, according to Urban Meyer."

(Critics who are bearish on Tebow's NFL prospects just updated their profiles to gripe: "He's nearsighted! But doesn't wear glasses or contacts! How can he possibly play QB in the NFL?!"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

3:30 Read: Don't Hand Tebow Heisman Yet

Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World is a little leery of the rush to coronate Tim Tebow as the 2009 Heisman winner.

I appreciate Sittler may have a bit of a Big 12 bias -- then again, I appreciate that Tebow earned more 1st-place votes than any Heisman contender last season, including winner Sam Bradford.

(People talk about "Tebow backlash" during this upcoming season; I would argue that Heisman voters across the middle of the country created their own backlash... last December.)

I suspect that -- barring injury or a loss (either of which could happen) -- Tebow will win the Heisman, ahead of Colt McCoy (who will finish 2nd) and Sam Bradford (who will finish 3rd).

It would help if the Heisman voting took place AFTER the bowl season -- that should matter. If that had happened last year, Tebow probably would have overtaken Bradford.

Anyway, Sittler's point is well-taken: You would hope Heisman voters enter the season with an open mind, ready to evaluate ANY player on the strength of his merits -- in 2009.

Future Tim Tebow: Trey Burton?

Let's start with this: It is unfair to label any QB -- let alone a future Florida QB -- as "the next Tim Tebow." Or "poor man's Tim Tebow." Or even "Tebow-ish." Let's retire the template.

But the fact is that any big-boned dual-threat QB with a modicum of vocal leadership skills will be compared to Tebow -- particularly if he is going to Florida.

That's Trey Burton
, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound 2010 commitment from Venice, FL. He was the first commitment of the 2010 recruiting class -- after his sophomore year.

Right away, he began recruiting other stars for his class -- like Georgia stud RB Mack Brown, who committed after last week's Friday Night Lights, swiped away from Bulldog country.

And he's not stopping. The leadership seems "Tebowesque" (god, I hate typing that), which is good. That's what you want as the baseline -- Meyer and Loeffler will teach him how to be a QB.

Now, Burton will come in next fall and sit behind John Brantley for at least two years, if not behind 2009 freshman QB Jordan Reed for another year after that.

And you never know what kind of "next Tebow" that Urban Meyer will recruit behind him, who will push him for playing time. (See Meyer's recruitment of 2010 QB stud Jesse Scroggins.)

But, again, Tebow's larger legacy -- and you see it throughout his mythic adventures over the past three years -- is leadership.

(Talent and winning, yes, but leadership more than anything, which you could probably define as the link between your individual talent and the team's larger success.)

Don't know much about Burton's talent on the field, but he fits Meyer's mold for the type of leader he wants to see in his quarterback, no matter what the name on the back of the jersey.

Tebow NFL Watch: Following Up Yesterday's Vick-Tebow-Pats Thing: Vick-Tebow to Jags?

I love my Tebow-to-the-Patriots theory, but I recognize that the Jaguars could pre-empt that strategy by doing whatever they need to in order to keep the local star at home in Jacksonville.

And so while there is a great case to be made for the Patriots picking up Michael Vick -- perhaps even as an alpha test before drafting Tim Tebow -- there is a lot of chatter that the Jaguars might sign Vick.

It's not a bad idea: The Jaguars could use the p.r. sizzle -- for better or worse -- of having Vick. Like the Patriots, they could use Vick to test "Wildcat-ish" formations. Why would they do that?

Because like the Patriots, the Jaguars have been ID'ed as a strong candidate to draft Tim Tebow next year. Tebow's Jacksonville roots -- and Florida's strong fan presence in Jax -- make him an ideal pick, if the team's goal is to boost its marketing power.

Drafting Tebow as an heir to David Garrard isn't a bad notion, either. Give Garrard two more seasons, then turn the QB role over to Tebow. In the meantime, Tebow can line up in situational Wildcat-ish formations (presuming Del Rio -- or whoever is the coach -- deploys him that way).

It all might be a moot point if the Jaguars relocate to L.A. anyway -- note that the LA Times was on top of the Vick-Jaguars story -- although having Tebow would give the LA Jags instant star-wattage, in a town run by it.

Awards Watch: Tebow a Lock for Unitas?

Per Antonya English, Tim Tebow made the early "watch" list for the Unitas Award, given to the nation's top senior QB.

I think he will be a lock to win that particular award, regardless of how Colt McCoy does this season; the Unitas will be a symbol of Tebow's commitment to return for his senior year.

(He is also a candidate for the Allstate/AFCA Good Works team, honoring players who do great work in their community off the field. Tebow seems like a lock for this, too.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

3:30 Read: The Legend of Tim Tebow

The bloggers at The Constitution Club put together a post winding through a handful of the top narrative elements of mythic Tebow. Here's a lead for you:
If Barack Obama balled himself up into a mass traveling forward, and he were to be met by Tim Tebow, stretched out forming a barrier, who would win the confrontation? Such are the the metaphysical conundrums that try men’s brains.
It is, by no means, a pro-Tebow post -- read the full post here.

Quote of the Day: Walter Camp

This quote is from the legendary Walter Camp, from 1893. Scratch out the year and insert "2009" and this could describe Tim Tebow:
The quarter[back] is, under the captain, the director of the game. With the exception of one or two uncommon and rare plays, there is not one of any kind, his side having the ball, in which it does not pass through his hands. The importance of his work it is therefore impossible to overstate. He must be, above all the qualifications of brains and agility usually attributed to that position, of a hopeful or sanguine disposition. He must have confidence in his centre himself, and, most of all, in the man to whom he passes the ball. He should always believe that the play will be a success.
To repeat: The quarterback "must be, above all..., of a hopeful or sanguine disposition." What a gloriously unique way of putting it.

Quote legwork courtesy of the always-must-read Chris Brown from Smart Football.

Vick to Patriots a Test For Drafting Tebow?

USA Today's Jim Corbett makes a fairly convincing case of why the Patriots should (or would... or could...) sign Michael Vick. To summarize:

(1) Belichick's Wildcat envy-ish.
(2) Pats an ideal sheltered, no-drama environment.
(3) Randy Moss.

Agreed on all counts. I am particularly interested in the first one -- the strategic value of a player with Vick's skills to Bill Belichick.

Vick suffered through Jim Mora, who was more interested in forcing a West Coast system on Vick than innovating around one of the most unique talents in NFL history.

Belichick would have no such issues with innovation -- as his previous comments about Tim Tebow and the Wildcat-ish offensive sets would evidence. (Not to mention his adoption of the spread offense to let Brady and Co. run wild in 2007.)

There is nothing stopping Belichick from signing Vick, keeping him in line (re: Moss) and offering him 5-10 situational (Wildcat, single-wing, etc.) snaps per game in relief of Tom Brady.

Don't think Belichick wouldn't do it.

And don't think that -- if Belichick says that Tom Brady can be replaced 5-10 ideal situations per game -- any starting QB in the league can ever claim exemption from a coach's interest in layering in a few situationally relevant single-wing/Wildcat plays using a special QB. Like Vick.

Or like Tebow.

You know my long-standing theory: Given Bill Belichick's strategic curiosity about the single-wing AND his BFF status with Urban Meyer, the Patriots will draft Tim Tebow.

They will play Tim behind Tom, using Tebow in special situations 5-10 times per game, probably with unusually efficient and proficient success. In 5 years -- or whenever Brady retires (or gets injured) -- an NFL-mature Tebow will take over as Patriots starting QB.

(Bonus conspiracy theory: When Belichick retires, Bob Kraft hires Urban Meyer -- coming off umpteen national titles -- to coach his favorite player ever.)

Let's tie the two ideas together: Belichick signs Vick for the upcoming season, using Vick to experiment with Wildcat-ish/single-wing formations... in preparation to draft Tim Tebow in 2010, then use Tebow to build on the innovation Belichick started with Vick.

(Here's the only rub: The Pats could sign Vick on the cheap. If he was effective, why give up on that, especially if they would have to pay Tebow "1st-round QB" draft money. Unless, of course, by next spring, the rookie pay scale is obliterated. Also: If Vick WAS effective, he would instantly be a sought-after free-agent again, commanding more money and a longer commitment, which won't come from the Pats, especially if they have their sights set on drafting Tebow.)

So there you have it: The Patriots will sign Michael Vick as an alpha test version before they draft Tim Tebow next year, who will be the beta version of Bill Belichick's grand experimentation in the single-wing and its variations.

With Belichick's seal of approval -- not to mention his success in using Vick, Tebow or whoever else he might sign to play the situational single-wing role -- the offense will flourish in the NFL.

-- D.S.

(PS: The corollary to my Tebow-Pats draft theory is that once the rest of the league figures out that Belichick wants Tebow, EVERYONE will want Tebow. His draft stock will surge -- potentially out of the Patriots' range; the Pats wouldn't gut their draft strategy, even if they love Tebow. So Tebow might not end up with the Pats -- but if he doesn't, he ends up in the Top 10 of the draft, which is a hell of a lot higher than any of the "experts" project for him right now... except NFL.com's Gil Brandt, who sees around the corner on this one, too.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

3:30 Read: USA Today Profiles Tebow

3:30 isn't just the kickoff of the Saturday CBS SEC G.O.T.W....

Not much you haven't seen or heard before -- much of the quotes and reporting came off SECMDs -- but worth a read, especially from USA Today. Money quote:
Everyone will follow the leaders. If the leaders aren't complacent, if the leaders still have their edge, if they're still pushing, if they still have that desire, that discipline, that devotion, then everybody else will because they're going to follow the leader.

As a leader, we just have to make sure that every day you come in withan edge, that desire, that hunger, and everybody is going to feed off of that. The team will have that desire, that hunger. And that's how you minimize that complacency. You have a team that's hungry and that still has an edge and something to prove, that still has that chip on their shoulder.
A lot on prep for the season, the transition under Loeffler and general thoughts on leadership.

SI.com Covers TimTeblog.com

In these first few weeks of the blog, every media mention is worth mentioning. Check out the coverage yesterday from SI.com's sports-media guru Richard Deitsch, who makes the comparison of me covering Tim Tebow this season to ESPN's coverage of Barry Bonds and asks me why my coverage of Tebow will be better than traditional media -- a question I deftly defuse. (Not competing! Complementing!)

Tebow Backlash? No. Tebow Parody? Yes.

The "Tebow Backlash" (or "Tebacklash") is a recurring topic here, and while my current stance is that a true backlash is unlikely (and will remain, even among the haters, at "begruding respect" level), the chances for Tebow-related parody are very high -- it's the way folks can poke fun at him without the bile of an actual backlash.

Two examples popped up in the last 24 hours, one from National Lampoon ("Who dares deny the divinity of Tebow?") and one from SBNation's Smoking Musket ("God pretty much over Tebow.")

Expect more to come.

Pearlman Responds to 1st Tebow Post

On Saturday, I linked to a provocative post by Jeff Pearlman about Tebow ("What's to Celebrate?"). He posted a follow-up yesterday, reacting to some of the reader reaction he got.

Tim Tebow on ESPN's Sunday Conversation






Monday, July 27, 2009

Quote of the Day: Pat Fitzgerald

"I want to make sure I make my vote crystal clear. I did vote for Tim Tebow."

-- Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald, at the start of his Big Ten Media Days press conference.

(I'd say Fitz FTW, especially the way he has effectively recruited the state of Florida in the '10 class.)

In The News: What Vick's NFL Future Means For Tebow

When non-Tebow news breaks, occasionally it can be -- if tangentially -- linked to Tebow:

Item: NFL reinstates Michael Vick, conditionally.

What does it mean for Tebow? The evolution this season of the "Wildcat" offense -- and its inevitable and varied derivatives -- will be very important for Tebow's NFL future; as NFL coaches stretch the definitions of what it means for a QB (even a part-time QB) to contribute in the NFL in special situations, they will increase the value they place on Tebow's skills.

Presuming Vick won't step in as a starter -- especially not given a regular-season snap until after Week 6 at the earliest -- how coaches use him as a Wildcat-ish specialist (and his success in that usage) will be worth watching (yes, even if Vick's elusive running skills aren't similar to Tebow's up-the-gut running skills).

Meanwhile, off the field, expect plenty of comparisons between Vick, the convicted felon, and Tebow, the quasi-sainted Golden Child.

(Forget Tony Dungy as his mentor: If Vick really wanted to earn some popular cred as "reformed" and "repentant," he would beg Tebow to be his advisor.)

Leftover Tebow Links

Cleaning out the files of some read-worthy coverage over the past 48 hours...

TBO's Martin Fennelly: Chaste in good taste (yes, more on you-know-what)

Washington Times' Tom Knott: On Tebow's grace (probably lower-g "grace," although you'd be forgiven for thinking it was uppercase-g "Grace.")

Sporting News: Is Tebow worth his weight in gold?

Obs from the 50: "All that stuff you hear about Tebow? It's true." (Riley Skinner)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tebow Links for a Sunday Morning

Less than 72 hours later, I think I'm ready for this "virgin" meme to run its course. (What's the chance that happens? None? Oh...)

AJC: Tony Barnhart on the virgin question.

Memphis Commercial-Appeal: Geoff Calkins on the virgin question.

Jax.com (FLA T-U): Gene Frenette on the virgin question.

Your Religion Is False (blog): On the virgin question.

Abstinence Clearinghouse Blog: About...what you think it's about.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tebow Links for a Saturday Morning

Interesting Tebow-related reads to keep you busy this Saturday morning...

ESPN.com's Jemele Hill: Terrific take on the "virgin" thing. She gets it. This deserved its own post. I'll take care of that later this weekend.

Jeff Pearlman: On the SI cover story, "What's to celebrate?" (He's not a fan. I have known Pearlman through the years and I think he oversimplified/went "contrarian" -- I'm going to try to connect with him for an online discussion here to dive into this further.)

Poynter Institute: Tebow "virgin" question was out of line.

Virginian-Pilot: More on "virgin" debate.

Auburn Undercover: High praise from a rival (and a rival that, by all rights, gets more bragging rights over Florida than any other team in the SEC).

Gator Bytes: Ben Volin wraps up the Steve Spurrier/"Vote" meme. I'm torn: Maybe Spurrier made an honest mistake -- or maybe he wanted to make sure he was the center of attention at SEC Media Days. (If the former, why wouldn't he clear it up before SECMDs? Exactly.)

Sporting News' Spencer Hall: My SN colleague with his own take on Spurrier. Hall (or, in his other life at EDSBS.com) is always a must-read.

Gator Clause: Coveted HS RB Mack Brown commits to Gators at Friday Night Lights (and, apparently, "Next/Poor Man's Tim Tebow" Trey Burton had a big hand in that, as he has with every commitment in the 2010 class.)

Gainesville Sun: Robbie Andreu (excellent, even though he never returns my emails) wraps up SECMDs. Money quote: "I’ve been covering SEC Media Days since 1992, and this was the craziest one yet. By far."

Saurian Sagacity: Comes out with its preseason Top 25 ballot, always intriguing and non-traditional. And guess who's No. 1?

Beckett Blog: Tebow interest for trading-card collectors is very high. (Interesting nugget: Tebow will make his debut on the cover of the Beckett magazine next month.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

3:30 Read: Wetzel on Tebow's Perfection

Great read by Yahoo's terrific Dan Wetzel, on Tim Tebow's "perfection."

VoteGate Mystery Ends! Anti-Climax Rules!

After all that breathless drama, it has come to this: Steve Spurrier was the one left Tim Tebow off his preseason all-SEC ballot. HOWEVER:

(1) By mistake. (Naturally.)

(2) Since corrected. (Obviously.)

(3) Vote now unanimous. (As it should be.)

(4) Controversy -- or "controversy" -- over (with a bit of a whimper).

For those who pooh-poohed the whole storyline, please save it: It was a lot of fun, while it lasted (even if the ending was...quiet).

BTW: Spurrier said, "I think he's the best football player in the country." So there you go.

Video of Tebow-Virgin Q&A Moment

You can read about it, but it's much more interesting to actually see it:

VoteGate: Miles, Chizik Voted Tebow. Spurrier?!

Per ESPN (via the G'ville Sun), Les Miles and Gene Chizik are confirmed voters for Tebow. That leaves... Steve Spurrier.

It seems crazy that Spurrier wouldn't vote for Tebow, but -- then again -- if anyone wouldn't, it would be the Head Ball Coach.

Prediction: Spurrier claims that he, too, voted for Tebow. And then someone is lying. And so the hunt will go on, but the storyline will change from "Who did the crime?" to "Who covered it up?"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reactions to Tebow-Virgin Story:
The Good, The Bad And Clay Travis

There have been a range of reactions to today's sensational (and sensationalized) detail that Tim Tebow is saving himself for marriage. I thought I offered a pretty thoughtful contribution.

I will give the "Best Instant Reaction" award to Alligator Army, which cleverly connected Tebow's chastity to the way a sex-free George Costanza turned into the Greatest Human Ever.
I'm not about to knock someone for saving themselves for marriage, but this explains so much about Tebow. Just like George Costanza was a genius when he stopped thinking about sex (an episode called "The Abstinence"), a virgin Tebow is the Ultimate Football Player.
The most hysterical instant reaction goes to SI's Stewart Mandel, who tweeted: "SEC Media Days hits a new low - a writer asked Tim Tebow whether hes a virgin. Unreal."

But the biggest hysteric, taking the time to put 750 words to his outrage, was CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, who packs a career's worth of rambling sanctimony into one column.

The proper response if he thought the topic was out-of-bounds was NOT to go trolling cynically for sensationalized page views by talking about it, even if he claimed to be condemning it.

More reactions worth reading, across the spectrum:
*Yahoo's Dan Wetzel
*Ben Volin's Gator Bytes
*Deadspin (Ben Cohen)
*ESPN.com's Chris Low
*Yahoo's Dr. Saturday (Matt Hinton)
*Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel (with an update commending Travis)

And you know who deserves the must-read last word? The guy who asked the question: Clay Travis himself.

All the critics should read Clay's latest post before they continue to take blind potshots.

UPDATE: Interestingly, Tebow as a searched topic -- in any derivation -- barely cracked Google's Top 100 Trends yesterday (No. 97)... and isn't in the Top 100 at all this morning. (Still dominating? EA, which is pretty sad, but sadly predictable. Cool to see yesterday: Buehrle mania!)

Quote of the Day: Tebow on His Chastity

Original audio here.

Clay Travis: "Are you saving yourself for marriage?"

Tebow: "Yes I am."

(Pause)

Tebow: "I think y'all are stunned right now. Y'all can't even ask a question. Look at this. The first time ever. Wow. I was ready for the question; I don't think y'all were, though."

****

Update: Thanks to The Arena, here is an even more comprehensive transcript:

Travis: Tim, you’ve worn your religion on your sleeve, the mission trips, everything else, I think that’s amazing, very popular in the South and all over the country, to people even though you’re beating the crap out of their teams on the field, I know personally, and a lot of people do. (Tebow laughs.) Are you saving yourself for marriage?

Tebow: (Laughs) Good question. (Room laughs) But, yes, I love throwing versus One High, Speed Post—um, no. Yes, I am.

Other reporter:
Tim, being a senior, uh, what would you say— (Room cracks up.)

Tebow: I think y’all are stunned right now. Y’all can’t even ask a question! Look at this! The first time ever! Wow.

Travis: Well, I knew you were perfect, I just couldn’t—

Tebow:
I mean, I was ready for the question; I don’t think y’all were, though. (Tebow laughs)

Unknown: How do you follow that?

Why The Tebow-Virginity Story Matters:
Making Sense of Tebow's SEC Media Day

Tim Tebow's virginity matters.

On its face, whether Tebow has been some sort of Greek god of studliness or saving himself for marriage seems like a ludicrous issue to be talking about at a football conference, even in the SEC.

But Tebow has always been about more than football -- necessarily been about more than football.

Tebow's career -- on and off the field -- has been about mythology. Not in the "Clash of the Titans" fictional way, but about myth-making. So as not to confuse people, I try to use the word "mythic," because it means "as if a myth...," the implication being "...but very much real."

The Tebow myth -- "mythic Tebow" -- is based on an ever-increasing number of mythic moments:

Football-related: The first "Jump-Pass"... the 5-TD game on national TV against South Carolina en route to "20/20" en route to becoming the first sophomore ever to win the Heisman... the 4th quarter against Alabama in the 2008 SEC title game... the clip of him "firing up" the College GameDay crew... the unsportsmanlike-conduct "Gator Chomp" against Oklahoma... the "Who didn't vote for Tebow" thing... and, of course, "The Promise" speech.

Off the field: The "miracle birth" story... the ESPN TV documentary as a high school senior... the ministering to prisoners... the medical procedures abroad, including the circumcisions... the singing with country-music stars... the eye-black, especially the John 3:16 moment during the national-title game that became the No. 1 most-searched term on Google (and helped convince him to return to Florida)... the "I'm Coming Back" speech... even this week's Sports Illustrated cover.

Everyone agrees Tebow is a great football player, maybe the greatest. Everyone agrees Tebow is a remarkable human being, even verging on the Messianic in tone. The point is that the Tebow myth is only truly created -- or fulfilled -- when these two things converge.

Tebow is unafraid to discuss his spirituality -- his religious beliefs and values -- in public. In fact, he relishes it, because it is precisely that "testimony" -- subtle and otherwise -- that allows him to live out what he feels is his mission. (But, to be clear, for all the outward displays of religious discussion, he is not someone who generally forces it on people -- just trust me on that.)

It is Tebow's clarity of living -- god, family, school/community, football...in that order -- that appears to provide him with the seemingly superhuman ability to at once be relentless on the football field (or even in the weight room or film room or practice sessions) and supremely confident off the football field, whether flying to the Phillippines to work with orphans or driving to the local prison to minister to convicts or handle the media like few in sports have ever handled the media (especially, as Forde pointed out today, for a college student).

Mythic Tebow puts his religious values first, and if that is how he finds success in life, more power to him. We should all be so fortunate to have something -- religion, secular humanism, family, fan allegiance, I-don't-care-what -- that provides a framework for a life well-lived, however you might define that.

It is those religious values that fuel his football success, that are on display in the cover story of Sports Illustrated this week -- and that made Clay Travis' extremely personal question to Tebow of whether or not he was a virgin something relevant.

In fact, his answer shouldn't have surprised anyone. It is entirely consistent with his core values and -- in line with supporting "mythic Tebow" -- the rest of the episodes, events and moments that have come to define him publicly.

When the rest of us get finished tittering (and Twittering) about the virgin question, what is left is -- as usual -- profound (or perhaps begrudging) respect, which couldn't be a more rare commodity among sports fans, let alone for a star as prominent (even over-exposed) as Tebow.

I think Tebow will ultimately feel glad for having been able to share that piece of personal information -- he certainly didn't seem particularly thrown by the question when it was asked. But I can see him understanding that there are evangelical Christians out there who will find their strength in his values. Those who don't share those values? Live and let live.

When it first happened, I -- as a would-be expert in Tebow mythology -- was quick to put it at the top of the list of mythic Tebow moments. It doesn't have anything to do with football, but that it came up at a football conference... those two things intertwined seem to make sense to me, given the on-field/off-field duality of Tebow's mythic mix.

Talking about his virginity doesn't faze Tebow. And it shouldn't faze the rest of us. We should all have the kind of equanimity that comes with the clarity of living Tebow enjoys.

Click here for various must-read reactions.

Who Didn't Vote For Tebow? Maybe No One

Pat Forde picks up on my meme from earlier in the day: That, more than likely, no SEC coach will cop to NOT voting for Tim Tebow. Not in this crazy environment.

That actually turns the story about a cover-up, not a crime: One coach would be lying. (Shocker, I know.) And we all know it's always the cover-up, not the crime, that gets you in the end.

It would be refreshing for Steve Spurrier to waltz out and say, "Yep: You bet I didn't vote for Tebow." I suspect that, rather than wrapping up neatly tomorrow, this will extend.

The coach in question would be wise to 'fess up, not cover-up.

In fact, they could have a ton of fun with it by either (a) releasing the new through Twitter or (b) holding a mini-press conference just to reveal his vote. Hell, throw the SID (who likely filled out the ballot) under the bus. After two days, the story needs a villain -- and a tidy conclusion.

I suspect the coach won't be that smart. After all, he decided that Tim Tebow wasn't worthy of preseason all-SEC 1st-team QB.

SEC Media Day: Urban Meyer on Tebow

Surprisingly limited questions about Tebow for Urban Meyer:

Q. You joked about Tebow and the All SEC team. What do you think of the story that's become this week?

First of all, Pat Dooley told me to do that. Second of all, no one laughed, so it wasn't a very funny joke. Someone asked me if that's going to motivate Tim. Whoever asks those questions, don't know Tim. Tim has a lot of things to motivate him. That's not one. Didn't mean much by it.

Q. There's been some concern about Tebow not getting under center enough in the past, especially concerning his future in the NFL. Do you see he'll get under center a little bit?

There's a lot made of that. The concern is not from the professional coaches that I have a lot of conversation with. That never comes up. Tim Tebow, we can't make this more complicated than what it is. If you want Tim Tebow under center, teach him to get under center, he'll probably do it better than anybody else.

Are we going to place him under center? A lot of it depends on the quality of our tailback. To play an under center offense, you better have a monster back there at tailback that can take the pounding involved in that style of offense. I was involved in an offense I think 15 years. So we know that offense. Coach Addazio was very familiar. A great offense.

It's very personnel based on your fullback, on your tailback, your tight end. We've not had that luxury. This year, if T.J. Pridemore comes back, is a good fullback, we have three quality tailbacks. If they develop, it helps us win a game, we'll do that.

We are certainly not trying to, because someone said Tim needs to be under center to enhance his draft status. I assure you, him playing under center has nothing to do with his draft status with the programs we talked to. If it did, we would help him because he earned that. It's not that different.

To answer your question, he will be under center if it helps us win a game.

Q. Are there any annoying or bad habits that Tim Tebow has that you're aware of?

That's a great question. Annoying habits Tim Tebow has? You know, I'm sure I could think of some. You kind of caught me off guard here. There are some I can't share with you right now because I'm not sure what they are. I'll keep thinking as we go here.

More if it appears.

Best of Twitter About Tebow's Media Session

A few of my favorite Tweets from Tebow's media conference, retweeted (or republished) below:

@edsbs Tebow leaves by extending hands to heaven and ascending through ceiling into beam of heavenly light.

@ChrisVernonShow Media walking out of Tebow presser look like the just watched Joel Osteen sermon

@espn4d Tebow done. Most polished public speaker in college athletic history. BOLD STATEMENT

@GatorBenPBP Classic #Tebow send-off: "Thank you very much. God Bless y'all"

@jeskeets LeBron smoked pot in high school; Tim Tebow is a virgin. #ThingsIDontGiveAFlyingUckAbout

SI's Stewart Mandel seems to be getting some RT traction with this tweet: "
SEC Media Days hits a new low - a writer asked Tim Tebow whether hes a virgin. Unreal."

I responded that I think he's being a little too sensitive about it -- particularly considering that Mandel's OWN MAGAZINE put Tebow's religious values on the table -- AND ON ITS COVER -- THIS WEEK. I mean: Save your sanctimony, guy.

Plenty more to sift through here.

Tebow on the Tebow Backlash: "Oh Well."

When asked about the real (or, more likely, perceived) "Tebow backlash" (which I have dubbed "Tebacklash"), this was Tebow's reply:

"Oh, well."

Tebow is more calm and collected in his presentation in front of the media than any coach -- frankly any media member -- and certainly any 21-year-old.

Tebow at SEC Media Day: About the John 3:16 Eye Black

Tebow just confirmed that the Google searches that resulted from him wearing the John 3:16 eye-black in the national title game were part of what influenced him to come back this season.

His mom acknowledged as much when he made his announcement to return -- and, since then, Urban Meyer has brought it up, too.

It's hard to prioritize how to parse this: Affirmation of the power of Google? Affirmation of the power of Tebow's interest in influencing people?

The John 3:16/Google story is a core pillar of "mythic Tebow" -- first, it was for his power to move the Google needle; now, it is for the notion that that power brought him back to school.

Quotable Tebow: "No, I Do Not Know Who Did Not Vote For Me"

From Tebow's SEC Media Day press conference:

"No, I do not know who did not vote for me."

At least he's got a sense of humor about it -- and recognizes that it's something folks are talking about.

More:

"I'm not going to run sprints thinking about a coach that didn't vote for me. That's really quite alright."

Follow Tebow Media Day Coverage on Twitter

If you're not watching on TV, you can follow all of the SEC Media Day insanity about Tim Tebow via a Twitter search for "Tebow." Here's a link.

The main memes: (1) Backlash against "Who didn't vote for Tebow" thing; (2) the broke-in-last-20-minutes "virginity" thing; and (3) quotes from coaches about him. Tebow taking stage soon.

Tebow is getting "SEC Head Coach" treatment: Full one-on-one press conference, just like the coaches.

Tim Tebow Says He Is A Virgin, Saving Himself for Marriage

Via Fanhouse's Clay Travis' Twitter feed, from his AOL live-blog (and this post):

"Tim Tebow, flawless, saving himself for marriage. Just asked, confirmed."

Tebow's virginity is the new LeBron being dunked on. I think that sums it up, as far as stunning pieces of possibly-irrelevant-but-nevertheless-sensational-(if-hardly-prurient) trivia.

Tim Tebow's virginity instantly jumps to the very top of Tebow's mythology.

More than the circumcisions.
More than the Promise.
More than the ministering to prisoners.

I am impressed that Travis asked. And, I think Clay would agree, the confidence and clarity with which Tebow answered is stunning.

You could kind of see it coming, but to hear it come from him? Like: "Just when you thought the guy couldn't be more virtuous -- more 'walk the talk.'"

Wow.

UPDATE: The topic has stirred quite a bit of controversy, with most folks on Twitter (a) shocked the question was asked; (b) questioning its appropriateness; or (c) taking it in stride, mostly making good-natured jokes.

SI's Stewart Mandel seems to be getting some RT traction with this tweet: "SEC Media Days hits a new low - a writer asked Tim Tebow whether hes a virgin. Unreal."

I responded that I think Mandel is being a little too sensitive about it -- particularly considering that Mandel's OWN MAGAZINE put Tebow's religious values on the table -- AND ON ITS COVER -- THIS WEEK. I mean, good god (literally): Save your sanctimony, Stew.

SEC Media Day: Saban on Tebow

Coverage courtesy of the Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin. (Follow him on Twitter @GatorBenPBP)

Money quote from Saban:

“I will say this: I think Tim Tebow is an outstanding quarterback, an outstanding leader. I have no questions about his ability to throw the ball. He made some outstanding throws in good coverage in critical times in our game last year in the SEC Championship Game. I think he is a winner. I think he will be a winner in the NFL.”

Tebow to Dan Patrick: Open to "QB-ish" NFL Role

Prior to ascending to the SEC Media Day podium, Tim Tebow did an interview with Dan Patrick on DP's radio show.

The biggest news coming out of it: Tebow is NOT a hard-line "QB-or-nothing," as it relates to his future in the NFL.

Tebow says he will do anything his NFL team needs to help it win.

This is in line with Tebow's entire ethos: He is open to experimentation. He is a football "swinger." He is up for anything, as long as it gets the team closer to a W.

And that makes it one more reason NFL GMs and coaches will WANT to draft him... will be looking for reasons to draft him, certainly higher than the NFL naysayers project.

I also predict this will empower the "NFL Deniers" camp (Kiper, McShay) in their notion that Tebow must necessarily play something other than QB in the NFL.

But I think it maintains my longtime position: He WILL play QB in the NFL -- to oversimplify, most likely as a "Wildcat"-style specialist in short-yardage, red-zone and special situations.

But let's not be intellectually restrained by Wildcat's current form: Tebow will lead its evolution, assuming he is with a coach who is innovative enough to use him -- cough, Belichick, cough.

Don't ghettoize Tebow as a Wildcat QB (circa 2008). Watch to see how it evolves this season as more teams adopt related formations. Watch how Tebow's NFL coach expands that further.

I will coin the term: "QB-ish." That covers Tebow's NFL role -- mostly QB, though that may be more as a part-time running QB than a full-time passing QB, perhaps with some other roles.

VoteGate: Richt, Saban Voted For Tebow

Richt and Saban both insist they* voted for Tebow. That leaves three coaches unaccounted for: Spurrier, Chizik, Miles (with the assumption that Houston Nutt -- not able to vote for Snead -- voted for Tebow...maybe not!)

I am becoming more and more convinced that EVERY coach (except Meyer) will claim that they voted for Tebow -- one will be lying, of course -- and the next iteration of this story will be figuring out which coach lied about it. It's always more about the cover-up than the crime...

(Per ESPN.com's SEC guru Chris Low: "The worst-kept secret in the league is that most of the coaches' ballots -- especially on the preseason All-SEC team -- are filled out by the sports information directors.")

UPDATE: Saban exhibits some exasperation that this is a story. (Note that he still explained who he voted for, just to clarify.)

Saban wins the award for inappropriate hyperbole, suggesting that our forefathers fought in wars so that coaches could vote for any QB they want.

No one is suggesting that they don't have the right to vote for whoever they want -- most folks simply find it inconceivable that any coach would actually believe another QB deserves preseason all-SEC more than Tebow.

Today's 3:30 Read: Off-Field Tebow, Cont'd

3:30 isn't just the kickoff time for the SEC Game of the Week. It's the time of day when I post a worthwhile "must-read" you can use to make the rest of the day go by faster.

Special 10 a.m. edition, killing time before Tebow's media session.

Today: The Florida Times-Union's Gene Frenette on the "Tebow off-field" meme, which is top-of-mind this week with the Sports Illustrated cover story.

Here's the money observation from Frenette, and it's dead-on:

Did you catch the video that celebrity gossip Web site TMZ recorded of Tebow as he arrived in Los Angeles for the ESPYs? As Tebow is signing autographs, TMZ baited him with a question about having a "hot girlfriend," which he quickly denied.

It was a clear attempt to get Tebow to say or do something out of character, but he astutely handled the paparazzi moment. He didn't shoo away TMZ or tell them to go dig up another Michael Jackson skeleton.

He just kept signing his name until TMZ, realizing Tebow wasn't going to deliver anything juicy, went away. It was one small sampling of a part of Tebow that might be his most underrated quality: off-the-chart people skills.

It's 3:30. Worth your read.

Tebow Media Session Tailgate

Florida's contingent -- Urban Meyer, Brandon Spikes and Tim Tebow -- will take the stage between 10:39 and 12:30 today, probably around 11:30, with Tebow on around noon. (Don't hold me to that -- it's just a guess.)

Yesterday, I offered up some fun questions from non-Media Day participants, who might have felt like they were at Tebow Media Days. I also published the most Tebow-centric quotes from yesterday's coaches, including an emotional analysis from Dan Mullen. On the right, you'll also see the running list of Who Didn't Vote for Tebow? for all-SEC.

To whet your appetite for later this morning, here's a good post on "Tim Tebow 4.0" -- a construction I really really like -- from the indispensable blog Alligator Army.

SEC Media Days Day 1: Tebow Media Days?

There was a sense that Tim Tebow would be the headliner of SEC Media Days -- but most commandingly from the podium sometime around noon today.

Per crackerjack Ben Volin, it turned out that if there was a dominant theme on Day 1 of SEC Media Days -- featuring Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Kentucky -- it WAS Tebow.

Coaches were asked if they voted for Tebow for all-SEC -- the in-joke of the week -- and Dan Mullen went on at length about him, in an obvious emotional moment.

Who knew the event would become "Tebow Media Days?"

Quote of the Day: Dan Mullen

As Tim Tebow's mentor at Florida before leaving to be the head coach at Mississippi State, Dan Mullen had as close of a relationship with Tim Tebow as anyone. That made his media session all the more interesting for Tebow analysis. Here was the most compelling moment, when asked if he could provide any "dirt" about Tebow off the field:
"I'll say this about Tim Tebow, if you do get the opportunity to meet him, spend time with him, he's one of the most unique people in the world. I probably have more respect for him than anybody I've ever met. Just an amazing kid. Just an amazing kid. He taught me a very valuable lesson in life: if you can make an impact on someone's life, it's your obligation to do that. And he is one of the most amazing young people out there."
More from that Mullen moment:

Question
: In your dealings with Tim Tebow, did you find any weaknesses in his game? Can you kind of give us some of the dirt on him off the field, things that maybe were annoying to you?

Annoying? Boy, you know, he can be a little stubborn in his beliefs sometimes. He has very strong beliefs in his faith, if you don't know that one.

You know, weaknesses in his game? I don't know. I wouldn't consider anything a weakness in Tim's game. I will give this to him as one of his strengths, in having weaknesses. If you identify a weakness or something that he's not doing well, he wants to work as hard as he can to correct it.

Everyone has weaknesses in their games. Someone like Tim Tebow really understands the fact that to become a great quarterback, he has to continually hone his skills every single day and improve.

There's nobody that is staying the same in life. You're either getting better or you're getting worse. He's someone he believes when he gets up every day he needs to get better. Peyton Manning, I imagine, is trying to improve himself as a quarterback every single day. Tom Brady is trying to improve himself as a quarterback every single day, you know, to defend against weaknesses in their game.

Tim Tebow, we spend time on that, really understands that he needs to continually improve himself every single day. I don't know if there's a specific weakness in his game, but I can tell you what, he has a long way to go to improve where he wants to get to in the end in his own mind. He's going out every day to make himself a better football player.

More later.

Media Day Questions for Tebow: Smart Football

Today, Tim Tebow will face the media crush as THE headliner of SEC Media Days. Clay Travis has already weighed in with his must-know question: "Tim, are you a virgin?" TimTeblog.com has reached out to notable folks throughout sports media for their own Media Day questions for Tim, which I will post throughout the day.

Next up: Chris Brown, editor of Smart Football

What has Scott Loeffler taught you about playing quarterback that Meyer and Mullen hadn't?

Media Day Questions for Tebow: Dan Levy

Tomorrow morning, Tim Tebow will face the media crush as THE headliner of SEC Media Days. Clay Travis has already weighed in with his must-know question: "Tim, are you a virgin?" TimTeblog.com has reached out to notable folks throughout sports media for their own Media Day questions for Tim, which I will post throughout the day.

Next up: Dan Levy, founder and host of the "On the DL" podcast.

*Do they serve cold cuts in the Phillipines after you circumcise the babies like they do here?
*Did one of the babies ever pee on you? Happened to me as a kid, still not over it.
*Did any part of you die when they erected the memorial wall to you? If so, what part?
*Who would win in a fight, you or Chuck Norris? What if it was a tag-team match with you and *God vs. Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer?
*What does Heaven smell like?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Media Day Questions for Tebow: Cajun Boy

Tomorrow morning, Tim Tebow will face the media crush as THE headliner of SEC Media Days. Clay Travis has already weighed in with his must-know question: "Tim, are you a virgin?" TimTeblog.com has reached out to notable folks throughout sports media for their own Media Day questions for Tim, which I will post throughout the day.

Next up: Cajun Boy, night editor for Gawker and author of Cajun Boy in the City. Oh, and a huge LSU fan. (Actually, this may be the most intriguing -- and realistic...bonus! -- question of the bunch.)

What book, besides the Bible, has had the most influence on your life?

Quote of the Day: Bobby Petrino

"There's no question in my mind that Tim Tebow will be successful in the NFL."

-- Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, also one-time Atlanta Falcons head coach, from SEC Media Days.

(h/t: Joe Goodman, Miami Herald)

By the way: Petrino says he voted for Tebow for 1st-team all-SEC. Mystery continues...

Media Day Questions for Tebow: Awful Announcing

Tomorrow morning, Tim Tebow will face the media crush as THE headliner of SEC Media Days. Clay Travis has already weighed in with his must-know question: "Tim, are you a virgin?" TimTeblog.com has reached out to notable folks throughout sports media for their own Media Day questions for Tim, which I will post throughout the day.

Next up: Brian Powell, of Awful Announcing

Here are a couple.....

1. How much can you bench press?
2. Is there a lamer cheer than the "Gator Chomp" in all of College Football?
3. Did Percy Harvin really have the H1N1 virus?
4. How many kids can you circumcise in an hour?

Today's 3:30 Read: Dodd on Tebow, Florida

3:30 isn't just the kickoff time for the Saturday SEC Game of the Week. It's the time of day when I post a worthwhile "must-read" you can use to make the rest of the day go by faster.

Dennis Dodd's column on CBSSports.com is a pretty good representation of what has been written by mainstream national columnists over the past 6 months -- and what you should expect over the next 6.

Dodd is ready to title a section of the column: "Tebow is one of the best ever." Then there's this, like this week's SI cover story, playing up the whole "off-field" stuff, which is as much a part of "mythic Tebow" as the on-field -- maybe more:

Go ahead, get it over with. Stick a finger down your throat and self induce if you must. Yeah, here we go again. We first got into this subject the day before the BCS title game eight months ago.

Nothing has happened to dispute that assertion. No scandal. No erosion of skills. Just come back with me to Atlantic City seven months ago when Tebow and his brothers were in town for the Maxwell Award ceremonies. With a night to kill and nothing to do, Team Tebow did what any red-blooded set of brothers would do.

They sat in their room and played "Catch Phrase." It's an electronic game about the size of a swollen hockey puck. It's great for family gatherings and dinner parties. But for a free night in Atlantic City?

Before it was over, the Tebows had a Catch Phrase entourage that included their body guard. Drink of choice: Bottled water.

"Everybody else was going to gamble downstairs," Tebow said. "We had like 10 people up there playing for like four hours. Most people are like, 'What are you doing? You have a casino there. You're up there playing 'Catch Phrase.'"

Let the kid have his fun. They have co-opted his name to sell product. "TeeBows" are women's panties being sold online. To quote the website, they are "the perfect complement to your Gator Game Day Outerwear."

They have carved a wooden statue of him clutching the Heisman outside popular Gainesville fish joint Ballyhoo Grill.

"I can't go up and look at it," the carvee said. "People would say, 'There's Tebow staring at his statue.' How weird would that be?"

They have run him ragged for autographs and interviews until he stepped back recently and realized he had no right to feel tired. It was a recent Saturday night. The Tebow family voted for Outback Steakhouse carryout. Tim thought he could zip in and zip out without being recognized.

A fawning father asked Tim to meet his son.

"I was thinking it was going to be a little boy," Tebow said. "He grabs this boy and brings him out in a wheelchair. He's here from Indiana and they're doing research on his spine. Who knows how long he is going to live? I realized, what's wrong with me. Why am I doing this? The kid was so excited he started to cry."

Anyway, the whole thing is worth a read.

Media Day Questions for Tebow: Josh Zerkle

Tomorrow morning, Tim Tebow will face the media crush as THE headliner of SEC Media Days. Clay Travis has already weighed in with his must-know question: "Tim, are you a virgin?" TimTeblog.com has reached out to notable folks throughout sports media for their own Media Day questions for Tim, which I will post throughout the day.

First up: Josh Zerkle, of With Leather and Kissing Suzy Kolber.

*Tim, who's the better golfer? You? Or Jesus?

*Can I call you Timmy?

*Tim, does SEC speed come in chewable tablets? I've got a tough week coming up at work and could really use the boost.

*Tim, why don't you just tell God to pick a national champion?

Media Day Questions for Tebow: DJ Gallo

Tomorrow morning, Tim Tebow will face the media crush as THE headliner of SEC Media Days. Clay Travis has already weighed in with his must-know question: "Tim, are you a virgin?" TimTeblog.com has reached out to notable folks throughout sports media for their own Media Day questions for Tim, which I will post throughout the day.

Next up: DJ Gallo.

You are a smart guy. You scored 850 on your SAT. Please answer the following ... Tim Tebow : opposing defenses :: mohel : _______?

A: scalpels
B: hygiene
C: rabbi
D: the foreskin of newborn boys

Newspaper Columnist in LSU Country Sides With Tebow over Tigers

The New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Peter Finney ties into SEC Media Day today by offering up a particularly fawning honorarium to Tebow -- I'm sure local Tigers fans were thrilled.

I appreciate that Finney is a realist -- frankly, you don't find many "Tebow deniers" anyway. I think if I was an LSU fan, I'd prefer my columnists to have "begrudging respect" over "swooning."

Media Day Questions for Tebow: Dave Zirin

Tomorrow morning, Tim Tebow will face the media crush as THE headliner of SEC Media Days. Clay Travis has already weighed in with his must-know question: "Tim, are you a virgin?" TimTeblog.com has reached out to notable folks throughout sports media for their own Media Day questions for Tim, which I will post throughout the day.

Next up: Dave Zirin.

"Have you read any of the research about the harms of circumcision and if so does it ever give you pause when you go in for the snip?"

SEC Media Day Questions for Tim Tebow

Tomorrow morning, Tim Tebow will face the media crush as THE headliner of SEC Media Days. Clay Travis has already weighed in with his must-know question: "Tim, are you a virgin?" TimTeblog.com has reached out to notable folks throughout sports media for their own Media Day questions for Tim, which I will post throughout the day.

First up: Jonah Keri.

"Going back to school to contend for another national championship puts you at risk of potentially losing out on tens of millions of dollars, if you suffer a major injury. Do you have an insurance policy on your major body parts? If so, how much did the coverage cost, and what is/are the payout(s)/body part(s) covered?"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sports Illustrated's Cover Story About Tim Tebow's Ministering: An Analysis

Couple of highlights from Austin Murphy's Sports Illustrated cover story on Tim Tebow's faith, headlined: "You Gotta Love Tim Tebow."

*Because the piece didn't have much to do with Tebow's on-field ability, the headline seems to connect Tebow's expression on behalf of his faith with the reason why fans should love him. We'll get to that at the end of the post.

*The story covers a couple of key pieces of what I label "mythic Tebow" -- most notably, his ministering at prisons (the focus of the piece, obviously) and leading with his "miracle" birth.

*Money quote 1, from Tebow: Inmates "respect the way I play the game, so they'll keep an open mind, give me a chance."

*Money quote 2, from Murphy: "But while Tebow will happily discuss his religion, he has no use for the hard sell. That's not his style."

This observation gibes with my longtime impression that Tebow is not -- contrary to the superficial images, like his eyeblack or media coverage of his ministering -- particularly pushy in his proseletyzing:

Tebow doesn't put God in fans' faces on the football field. More often than not after touchdowns, you'll see Tebow do the Gator Chomp or jump into his teammates arms, not clasp his palms together and look up, Wuerrfel-style. In fact, the heavy religious undertones of his 2007 Heisman speech felt odd coming from him in a strictly football moment, even though we all understand how devout he is.

*For Tebow fans well-versed in his ministering, the most remarkble detail in the story is an anecdote from just before the BCS title game, when coaches were concerned that 15 players were missing. The players were, in fact, freaking out a little bit about the game. But they were in Tebow's room, and he picked up a Bible and read a bit.

Murphy: "The verses had the desired effect, relaxing the assembled Gators so much that a kind of impromptu revival meeting broke out. Soon, the entire group had broken into song."

That's the first I had ever heard of that story, and it instantly is filed away under the Tebow myth. (By "myth," I don't mean to suggest that these things -- that story, the "miracle" birth, the circumcision stuff, the "jump-pass" are not real. I mean that they combine to help the player reach literally mythic status -- having the NATURE of myth, but in fact, very real.)

*To Murphy's credit, he points out the apparent contradiction between Tebow's God-fearing faith and his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Oklahoma in the BCS national title game (which is, actually, my favorite moment of Tebow's career, because it presented this incredibly likeable and relatable humanity).

Instead of the Spirit, Tebow told Murphy: "I let the Gator speak for me." (I'm sorry, that is an awesome quote. BTW: You can see the moment captured on an SI cover, found at the top right of this site.)

*In the end, Tebow's trip to Lawtey Correctional Institution is measured in numbers: 14 salvations. (Take that, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy.)

*Murphy's piece includes a phrase that feels like the epicenter of Tebow's standard speech to prisoners -- perhaps every group: "Finish Strong."

It is hard to tell if, by finish, Tebow means coming back from a stumbling 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarter to reclaim your life -- more Tony Robbins than Joel Osteen -- or whether "finish" implies that when they finish their lives, they'd be better off having accepted Tebow's faith.

I actually think that "Finish Strong" -- originally a Florida coaches' mantra -- is a pretty good catch-all for Tebow's life: The football or the ministering. The competitiveness -- whether he is saving the game against Alabama or doing what he thinks is best to save souls.

Most fans already knew about Tebow's ministering -- I mean, his eye-black is pretty obvious (remember, his "John 3:16" eye-black in the title game -- switched from "Phil 4:13" that he sported the rest of the season -- was so intriguing that it sent the phrase to No. 1 on Google Trends the day after the game) -- so I'm not sure that this will make fans love Tebow more.

In fact, I'm sure more than a few fans may be turned off by his evangelical efforts. But my takeaway is that the details about his NOT being particularly pushy make him that much more likable.

If I had any criticism, it would be that the piece was missing putting athletes' evangelical ministering efforts into some larger context; and there was no critical analysis of Tebow's own ministering (is it ALL positive?), beyond the very brief aside about his unsportsmanlike penalty (which itself was explained away endearingly).

And for a piece about Tebow's off-field ministering, a cover image of him in uniform seemed gratuitous (ed: this, from a guy who writes a blog entirely about Tim Tebow!) -- I think there was room for a dramatic photo of him ministering to convicts as the cover image, a photo you wouldn't normally see. (I understand why they went with the in-uniform pic -- although editors made sure the eye-black Bible verse "popped," which I think oversimplifies the important point about his NOT-pushiness made in the piece.)

Obviously, for Florida fans -- and for Tebow fans -- the story might not be entirely new, but it is a must-read, with the hallmark of a great SI piece: Unusually good access and details not reported anywhere else.

*******
Haven't seen the piece posted online, but I'll be sure to drop in a link as soon as it's available.

Tebow: This Week's Sports Illustrated Cover

Best Ever: Tim Tebow vs. Herschel Walker

The AJC's Mark Bradley says Herschel Walker was a better college football player than Tim Tebow, but he leaves open that Tebow could vault Walker after this upcoming season.

In fact, he already puts Tebow in his all-time Top 5 -- just not ahead of Herschel.

In all this "Greatest Ever" talk, that "already" point often gets lost: The only comparison you can make is Tebow's career thus far (three years) versus everyone else's complete career.

Even by that metric, Tebow is in the Top 10 -- probably the Top 5, as Bradley agrees. (That's greatest college football player ever, not just greatest college QB ever.)

Then consider that -- if everything breaks right this season -- he will, additionally:

(1)Win a 3rd national title (while going unbeaten).

(2) Win a 2nd Heisman (or at least finish in the Top 3 for the 3rd straight season)

(3) Set or extend a slew of statistical records.

(4) Create more "Promise"-like mythology creation.

That would clearly put him over the top as the greatest college football player ever. (Make no mistake: The "GOAT" debate will be HUGE over the next 5 months -- it is one of the reasons that this blog was created; how often do we get to watch Greatest of All Time in real-time?)

That said: Through THREE years? Sure: I will absolutely agree that Herschel Walker is on a VERY short list in the "GOAT" conversation, along with -- I would argue -- Vince Young.

While Tebow enjoys some 21st century myth-making advantages, like ESPN and the Internet and YouTube and HD, Herschel has that way-early-80s, "Whoa, Nellie" factor in strong support of his myth.

If you're under 40, you WANT to love Herschel Walker -- you WISH you had the chance to remember seeing him play live, probably more than any other college football player.

Tim Tebow is college football history in progress; there's something awesome about that. Herschel Walker IS college football history.

VoteGate: Kiffin Says He Voted for Tebow

Perhaps pre-empting a major storyline that would have hounded him at SEC Media Days, Lane Kiffin says he, in fact, DID vote for Tim Tebow as preseason 1st-team All-SEC QB. The mystery continues. (But don't worry: It WILL come out. It always comes out.)

Tebow NFL Draft Status Throwdown

Per Ben Volin's must-read Gator Bytes blog, he breaks down -- "Daily Show"-style -- the competing theories about Tim Tebow's NFL Draft stock.

On one end, Gil Brandt of NFL.com. Brandt pegs Tebow as a Top 10 pick.

On the other end, there is the Todd McShay (and Mel Kiper) wing, which -- at best -- has Tebow as a 2nd- or 3rd-round QB and -- at worst -- has him playing H-back in the NFL.

I think Brandt will end up being more correct, if not entirely correct. Think back to that recent Sporting News mock draft: They had Tebow going No. 13 to the Redskins.

Here is my upshot: Tebow's draft stock will only go up, for a few reasons:

(1) Full season of Scott Loeffler's tutelage, with at least partial emphasis on NFL preparation;

(2) Jon Gruden's promotion on Monday Night Football (don't discount!);

(3) NFL teams WANT to want him -- he'll get the benefit of the doubt;

(4) Drumbeat for Tebow's hometown Jaguars to take him, which -- based on the Jags' season a year ago -- could be Top 10, but will likely be in the teens.

(5) The Shanoff "Tebelichick Theory" that there is no way he slips past the Patriots -- if the Pats don't go so far as to trade UP through the 1st round to get him.

Once it is obvious that Bill Belichick is dying to figure out how to unleash him on the NFL -- even in a limited, Wildcattish role -- the copycat effect will send a dozen teams scrambling for him.

Mel Kiper and Todd McShay may not THINK that Tebow will be an NFL QB, but if they want their mock drafts to reflect market realities, they will have him in their 1st round soon enough.

Winner: Gil Brandt. (I actually worked with Gil briefly while I was at NFL.com in the late-90s, and he is one of the nicest guys I've ever met.)

SEC Media Day: "Is Tim Tebow A Virgin?"

"Is Tim Tebow a virgin?" That's not my question -- it's from Fanhouse's Clay Travis, who gets a jump on SEC Media Day by offering up 10 intriguing questions for the event (which has 800 credentialed media folks attending. 800.) I do think he missed the biggest mystery of the offseason: "Who didn't vote for Tim Tebow for 1st-team all-SEC QB?"

More questions that should be asked, entirely framed around Tim Tebow, naturally, listed in order of scheduled appearances:

Wednesday July 22
Arkansas' Bobby Petrino (8:30 a.m.): "Coach, you know QBs as well as any coach. What kind of offense could you run if you had Tebow?"

Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson (9:30): "You're a pretty good defensive coach. What's the best way to defend Tim Tebow?"

Mississippi State's Dan Mullen (10:30): "Coach, you used to coach Tim Tebow. How would YOU stop him?"

Kentucky's Rich Brooks (11:30): "You get the Gators in their first road SEC game of the season. Got any clever sign ideas or chants for your fans to get in Tebow's head?"

Thursday July 23
Alabama's Nick Saban (8:30): "Admit it coach: You didn't vote Tim Tebow as 1st-team all-SEC QB this season, did you? Is it because of the whole 4th quarter of the SEC Championship Game thing?"

Georgia's Mark Richt (9:30): "Ooh, Coach Saban, I take it back. It was YOU, Richt, wasn't it?"

Ole Miss' Houston Nutt (10:30): "Yeah, yeah, keep smiling."

Florida's Urban Meyer (11:30): "Greatest college QB of all time... or greatest college PLAYER of all time?"

Friday July 24
Auburn's Gene Chizik (8:30): "Isn't it true that your biggest win of your season is that Florida is off your schedule?"

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (9:30): "Your protege Danny Wuerffel already surpassed you as the greatest QB in Florida history. Does it irk you at all that Tebow has passed Danny?"

LSU's Les Miles (10:30): "Florida-LSU is going to be the biggest game of the college football season. Think your student section will give out Tebow's home phone number again this year?"

Tennessee's Lane Kiffin (11:30): "Is there a reason that the SEC saved you for last? No, no: That's not my question. The question is: Anything to say about Tim Tebow? There's not much room left on the bulletin board, but we can always squeeze in another quote."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tim Tebow at the 2009 ESPYs

If Sarah Palin and Jim Tressel had a love-child...



(I've seen the tweets and the posts from the haters, but I think he actually pulls it off. Glasses: Who knew?)

Book Your Lunch Plan Now: SEC Media Day

The Gators reps -- including Tim Tebow -- are scheduled to appear for media interviews on Thursday, July 23 between 10:30 and 12:30 p.m. Book your lunch "meeting" now, appropriately.

(Cool helmet-graphic scheduling info courtesy of the SEC.)

What Does ESPN's Push Into Local Online Media Have To Do With Tim Tebow?

Sorry for the navel-gazing, but the answer is here, toward the bottom. (Heads-up: Only of interest if you like this sort of inside-baseball media-wonky stuff. Promise it's then back to strict TT analysis.)

Gainesville Sun: Tebow No. 1 Player in SEC

This is not surprising, on any number of levels: The Gainesville Sun, counting down the Top 25 players in the SEC this season, has tabbed Tim Tebow as No. 1.

That the hometown paper puts Tebow at the top is obvious; what is less obvious is how anyone across the country could put anyone BUT Tebow as the No. 1 player in the SEC.

(Yes, you can make the case for Eric Berry, but Berry doesn't have nearly the direct impact that Tebow has. I would also argue that Julio Jones -- the Sun's No. 3 talent -- is ridiculously good.)

The larger question, of course, is where Tebow should rank among ALL players in the country, not just the Ess-Eee-See. Let's leave it here for now: He is on the short-list discussion for No. 1.

Quote of the Day: Arnold Tucker

"He's a horse. He would have done great back when I was playing, too."

-- Newly enshrined College Football Hall of Famer Arnold Tucker (Army '46) on Tim Tebow.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blutarsky's Sunday Tebow Matinee

This, from one of the best college football bloggers out there, the venerable Blutarsky of Get the Picture:
If the GPOOE™ has to use not being a unanimous pick in the SEC preseason coaches’ vote to motivate himself, Florida’s in worse shape than I thought.
(GPOOE -- Trademarked to Blutarsky -- stands for "Greatest Player Of Our Era," a mocking reference to the description Urban Meyer, among others, have bestowed on Tebow.)

Blutarsky doubles down with this, from Meyer's Huntsville talk:
Speaking of Tebow, how’s this for a creepy comment from his head coach? “He’s my Vitamin B-12. If I’m not there with him, I call him every day.”
Put Blutarsky's blog on your Reader list for terrific college football commentary -- and not just pro-Georgia stuff, either.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Countdown: Practice Starts August 6

Per Joe Goodman at the Herald, Gators practice starts August 6. Around here, expect a ton of fun lead-up/countdown-type stuff between the end of SEC Media Days and 8/6.

TimTeblog.com on GatorEnvy.com Boards

Thanks to whomever started this TimTeblog thread on the Gator Envy message boards. (What: No comments yet? Come on!)

For the record, I'm a longtime reader -- though not a participant -- on GatorsSports, GatorBait and GatorCountry's message boards. Maybe I'll have to change that...

Quote of the Day: Meyer on Tebow

"I get to be known as Tim Tebow's coach for four more months. And I'm going to enjoy every freakin' minute of it."

-- Urban Meyer on Tim Tebow, from Meyer's trip to Huntsville, Alabama earlier this week for a clinic:

Gator Report on Why TimTeblog.com?

With the launch of the blog last week, several local and national college football writers have picked up on it, including Holly Anderson from Yahoo's must-read Dr. Saturday, ESPN's terrific Bruce Feldman and the PB Post's sharp Gators beat reporter Ben Volin.

You can find the links collected on the right side under "Coverage of TimTeblog."

The St. Pete Times' Antonya English had a post about the blog right out of the gate -- framed interestingly around the potential for the "Tebacklash" (per AOL Fanhouse's MDS, covered here earlier this week).

She circled back with me to get a little more context for why I started the blog -- the launch post of the site on Wednesday said a lot, but I elaborate on it for her here.

This gist, and it's not like you haven't seen it before:

There is no bigger story in sports this fall than Tim Tebow and Florida, and I think that kind of interesting story merits my (mostly) journalistic coverage as a stand-alone "beat."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Role Model Showdown: Tim Tebow vs Myron Rolle

I was going to put together this really fun post comparing and contrasting Tim Tebow and Myron Rolle -- not the least of which is the Florida-Florida State rivalry.

A lot of people hold up Tebow as an ultimate role model. Myron Rolle is his equal, if not superior -- it's stupid to compare. It's simply worth marveling at the absoluteness of Rolle's awesomeness.

Read this post from Yahoo's "Dr. Saturday," Matt Hinton, and you'll see why.

While I'm no FSU fan, I couldn't admire Rolle more* -- his biggest claim to fame is the Rhodes Scholarship, but his life seems destined for astonishing greatness, especially off the field.

(* - Like many Gator fans, I was stunned when Rolle -- a fantastic student -- picked FSU over Florida "for the academics." I am thrilled that Rolle's life has worked out so well.)

Weekly Wrap (Next Week: SEC Media Days)

For a slow week in sports, it was plenty busy around here. This week's Top 5 Tebow storylines:

(5) Season Preview Magazine mania
(4) TMZ confirms that Tebow is single.
(3) Tebow wins ESPY for "Best Male College Athlete"
(2) Preseason all-SEC mini-drama
(1) Launch of TimTeblog.com (naturally)

If you haven't looked at the right side of the site yet, there is plenty of extra coverage, including links to the Top 10 most important Tebow videos, a list of places that have covered the launch of this blog and a preseason ranking of the Top 10 "Poor Man's Tim Tebow" contenders.

More posts this weekend, with a ton to come next week as the Tebow hysteria comes to SEC Media Days, which has become sort of like ComiCon for SEC football junkies.

Thanks very much for your time, attention and instant approval this week. Please don't hesitate to leave a comment or drop an email if you have any feedback.

"My Life As A Kid" Meets Tebow? Almost.

This is really cute (particularly if you have kids who own their own Tebow jerseys). I especially like the part where the cameraman actually catches Tebow on tape, then... well, you'll see:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Update: SEC Coach Mystery Dis of Tebow

Saturday (07/18) Update: The New York Times' excellent "Quad" blog weighs in. (If you don't have the Quad bookmarked or in your RSS Reader, you're missing out.)

Updating: Clay Travis
has a terrific analysis of the insanity that is the notion that an SEC coach would not -- DID not -- put Tim Tebow as his 1st-team preseason all-SEC QB. (via AOL FanHouse)

Mystery: Which Coach Dissed Tebow?

The SEC coaches' preseason all-conference teams came out today. Unsurprisingly, Tim Tebow was the 1st-team QB. Very surprisingly, he was not a unanimous selection.

Any guesses as to which coach (or, I guess, coaches) left Tebow off their ballot?

I would have guessed Houston Nutt, but coaches can't pick their own players, so it's not like he could have picked Jevan Snead.

I am going to go out on a limb and say it was Lane Kiffin. His reasoning? Just because. Extra points for the first media type at Media Day to ask him directly which QB he voted for.

Here's the thing: These things will come out. They always do. A good beat reporter will ask his SEC coach if he did/didn't vote for Tebow. Coach better hope he's not on Florida's schedule.

All of this could be avoided if the SEC actually made their coaches' ballots public, right from the start. Why the secrecy? What's the point?

(FWIW: Unanimous 1st-teamers: Ciron Black, Eric Berry, Julio Jones.)

Tebow to TMZ: "I Don't Have a Girlfriend"

Tebow was in LA yesterday for the ESPYs and, while being hit up by fans for his autograph, he was hit up by TMZ for details about his lovelife. (Maybe we should call it "TTMZ?")

Tebow's modest answer: "I don't have a girlfriend."

And yet the Google trend "Tim Tebow Girlfriend" continues. (TT really seemed to take the TMZ paparazzi ambush in stride, don't you think? When you've been hit by Greg Hardy, TMZ is easy.)

AOL Fanhouse on the Tebow Backlash

AOL Fanhouse's Michael David Smith (disclaimer: someone who I consider a friend and whose work I admire) does not like the Brennamanization of Tebow coverage, so dubbed for the absurdly fawning coverage by Thom Brennaman during the most recent BCS title game.

Agreed. If anything is going to trigger a Tebow backlash (aka "Tebacklash" -- ooh, that's mine), it will be that kind of gag-inducing fawning. The ESPY red-carpet interview that MDS specifically points to is particularly egregious -- although interviewing on red carpets, sports or otherwise, has never been like the late John Callaway on "Chicago Tonight."

I will stick with my original theory on the Tebacklash, which I repeated again yesterday when asked about the chance of a Tebow backlash by Steve Russell, Sports Director of WRUF in Gainesville:

It's not going to happen. The on-field performances and the walk-the-talk life he lives off the field (even when we only see it filtered through the media) will continue to make even the toughest critics fume with "begrudging respect," rather than haterade.

It's a good thing that Tebow seems to take this fawning in stride and defuse it with humility. It makes it a lot easier to dismiss the media, rather than dismiss the player.

Tebow Wins Back-to-Back ESPY Award

Tim Tebow won his second straight ESPY Award for "Best Male College Athlete," repeating from his 2008 award.

There's this open question about "Tebow fatigue" that I've touched on before. But no matter what you think about the ESPYs as some sort of contrived schtick, I like them for one very significant reason: They let the fans vote on the awards.

It's not some Academy. It's not some weird BCS-style hybrid of coaches, experts and media types. It's the fans.

And the fans -- nationwide, mind you -- like and respect Tebow an awful lot. Do they love him? Maybe, maybe not.

But fans respect him -- maybe it's begrudging respect, but respect all the same. And they like that he is a likeable personality who plays great on the field and appears to walk the talk off the field.

And, in his acceptance speech, Tebow threw that "like and respect" right back at them:
“It truly is an honor to even be invited to an event like the ESPYs and be able to be in the same room with many athletes that I have the utmost respect for. And then to be named the Best Male College Athlete, which was decided by the fans makes this night even more memorable. I want to thank my teammates and coaches, but a special thank you goes out to the entire Gator Nation, the best fans in the country.”
Make no mistake: The ESPYs are a popularity contest -- by that metric, Tebow is and remains very popular.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tim Tebow's Top SEC Player: Eric Berry

Who does Tim Tebow think is the best player in the SEC? Tennessee safety Eric Berry.

It's not a bad pick. At a minimum, Berry is the best defensive player in the SEC. (With all of the injuries to Tennessee's WRs, who doesn't want to see Berry get a bunch of reps on offense, too?)

And, no question, he is the SEC's No. 1 NFL Draft prospect.

Here was Berry's response:
“If he is Superman - make that Batman, then I am Robin. That’s a big compliment coming from him. He’s a Heisman trophy winner, has won (two) national championships. What more can you say?”
Yes, but will Tebow put Berry on his Heisman ballot somewhere?

On a radio interview today, the host asked me if there was going to be some sort of Tebow backlash this season. I think it's stuff like this that makes him very very hard to hate.

The way I phrased it was this: At worst, there is begrudging respect from opposing players and fans alike. It would be really hard to actually HATE him.

UPDATE: The Berry quote originally came from a Q&A Tebow did with Athlon's. Here's the source material. There's a lot in there. I'll have some pull-quotes later.