Monday, August 31, 2009

On Tim Tebow's Christianity, Humanism
And Ted Kluck's Open Letter to Tebow Fans

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Tim Tebow's devout Christianity is how he actively avoids the stereotypical "Bible-thumping" that causes so many secular fans to roll their eyes.

In fact, if anything, he is very careful about his public proselytizing. Does he let the media tag along for his prison-ministry sessions? Of course: This is part of the power of his "platform," one of the big reasons he came back to school this year.

But when you consume and analyze as many publicly available Tebow quotes as I do, you see how careful he is with language. He is certainly not afraid to bring up his devotion to his faith and values; however, he is far more likely to use more open-ended language.

I am not trying to suggest that Tebow is trying to subversively spread the word -- I think that he recognizes that many people don't want to hear it and that he risks alienating his larger audience -- and his access -- by coming across as too heavy-handed.

One of the most interesting things from the GQ article was the detail about Tebow's interest in the development and applications of influence; in the case of his evangelism, I would argue that Tebow actively avoids polarizing language and in fact, Tebow has created a much broader and more accessible version of his values.

There is a practical reason for that: Tebow may have a certain priority for his faith, but he is sincere as it relates to all people serving their community -- whatever that might mean. Consider the money he has helped raise for Florida's Shands Hospital, for a special center for sick kids. That isn't about evangelism, per se -- although it is about his personal values, which include having perspective... however one might define that.

For Tebow, that means putting his faith first; for others, that might mean putting your family first, or your community first. The point is: Tebow is insightful enough to understand that evangelical Christianity isn't necessarily for everyone, but that the humanist -- even secular humanist -- impulse to make the world a better place could (and should) be a universal value.

I bring all this up because I read a remarkable column today at ChristianityToday.com by author Ted Kluck, entitled "An Open Letter to Tim Tebow Fans." It didn't doubt Tebow's off-field abilities, but it did essentially say: Give the guy some room.

From Kluck: "We need to give him the grace and the space to be a young man in his early twenties, which is to say occasionally imperfect. A sanctification work-in-progress, like the rest of us."

(I was also struck that Kluck and I share a "Favorite Tebow Moment": His "unsportsmanlike conduct" penalty against Oklahoma in the national title game, doing the Gator Chomp in the face of Oklahoma's Nic Harris. It was Tebow's most human -- and likable -- public display of his life.)

I have never seen a player -- amateur or pro -- handle himself with such self-awareness and composure off the field in the way Tebow has. To Kluck's point, that doesn't mean we should continue to pile on the burdens. (Alternatively, perhaps the truly most compelling part of Tebow's story is precisely to test where his limitations might be.)

Tebow wants to be a leader, but it has to be personally blasphemous to Tebow (and even to someone who has a more secular approach to religion) to attach a messianic construction to him. I think we have already crossed that to some extent, and Kluck's post is a good reminder that Tebow is not God, the second coming or anything else like that.

He is an extraordinary football player and person, and just that. But isn't that enough?

Monday Morning Tebow Read: Tampa Trib

OK, we're (finally) here: Game week at the start of the 2009 season. Much, much more to come throughout the week, mainly focusing on Saturday's opener versus Charleston Southern.

But to get you going this morning, check out this piece from Joey Johnston of the Tampa Trib, published over the weekend, which is the Trib's version of the now-standard piece from every outlet: "Tebow: What it all means."

Here's the money quote in the article from Tebow:
"I love football and work extremely hard at it, but it's not my God. I think I have a sense of purpose to know what's really important."
That is entirely compatible with Tebow's oft-repeated priorities: Faith, family, football -- in that order. (See the posts below for links to this weekend's New York Times feature.)

But that doesn't mean that he isn't laser-focused on this season and on the potential of this team to accomplish something special under his leadership.

By the way: No, I didn't just highlight this article because it refers in-depth to TimTeblog.com. (But it never hurts!)

Reminder: If your outlet -- newspaper, magazine, radio, blog, whatever -- wants to talk Tebow, use the email on the upper-right to give me a shout. Happy to help out.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

About Tim Tebow's Fall Class Schedule...

Deadspin's Ben Cohen picked up on one of the more interesting details from Pete Thamel's Q&A with Tim Tebow from NYTimes.com, which I noted yesterday: "I'm a football player this semester."

We already knew Tebow was only carrying one class this fall (he's got a 3.72 GPA and is on track to graduate), but we didn't know just how minimal it was, until this interview. The money quote:

Q. How close are you to graduation?
A. I'm going to graduate in December.

Q. A light semester coming up, I assume?
A. Yeah.

Q. Ballroom dancing like Matt Leinart?
A. (laughs) Easier

Q. What do you have?
A. I guess the class that I would have is senior seminar. It's one hour and one credit. It's on Tuesday afternoons and we have practice. I'm going to work around that with the professors. I'm going to do whatever my counselor sets up. I'm a football player this semester.

Cohen actually stops just shy of another intriguing quote, which comes immediately after that section:

I’m really looking forward to that. I’ll be in here just like a coach. I’ll be in every game-plan meeting. I love that. I love being around everything.

Matt Hinton pointed this out yesterday: As if Tebow -- already a master student of the schematic side of the game -- needed MORE time to get ready to pick apart opposing defenses.

(By the way, those last two links were to Thamel's piece last September about Tebow's intense film preparation for each game -- it also had a Q&A that was fascinating. Must-reads, both.)


Tebow Links for a Saturday Morning

This is easy: If you haven't read today's New York Times profile of Tebow -- with an emphasis on his commitment to charity and philanthropy -- you must read it this morning.

The money quote, from Tebow:
"It's just what my heart is, helping. That's what I feel passionate about, is trying making a difference for people who can't make a difference for themselves."
And for more, be sure to read the extra Q&A, which has more on Tebow's priority of good works, plus a couple of great nuggets about the offense's expectations for '09 and Tebow's NFL prep.

7 days until Charleston Southern...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Must-Read: Thamel NYT Feature On Tebow
Plus: Tebow Quote of the Day: Urban Meyer

Earlier today, I linked to a Q&A that the New York Times' Pete Thamel did with Tim Tebow. That interview -- along with Thamel's original reporting -- resulted in this feature, about Tebow's inspirations and aspirations, off the field. Again, an absolute must-read.

It also has today's Tebow Quote of the Day, from Florida coach Urban Meyer:
"Tim has come at the right time. I'm a father, and I want to give my kids something positive to watch. I think that's why Tim is the phenomenon that he is. Enough about steroids and Michael Vick; let's talk about Tim Tebow."
There's no question: Tebow's off-field philanthropy; the personal values that underlie it; and the transparency and sincerity with which he talks about it all combine to support the mania that surrounds him.

More On How To Stop Tebow

Building on the SI.com column yesterday on the right combination of factors to stop Tim Tebow, Yahoo's Matt Hinton expands on it, going back to the Auburn game and pointing out that the real way to stop Tebow is to keep him off the field: Control the clock.

Hinton adds a critical point: "The bite-and-hold approach was much easier done against that Gator defense, which was slightly below average by SEC standards, than against essentially the same cast this fall, two years older and light years better."

If the Ole Miss game took a perfect storm, it will take more than a perfect storm to do it this year. Does anyone have any good names for that? I think I like "Perfecter Storm."

Must-Read: Thamel NYT Q&A With Tebow

Stop what you're doing and read this Q&A in the New York Times Quad blog between Pete Thamel -- who has interviewed Tim Tebow as extensively as anyone -- and Tebow.

The first section is all about Tebow's charitable work -- it is probably the most in-depth discussion about his core value of philanthropy as anything I have seen.

(In a very sophisticated way, he also talks about the bind the NCAA is in as it relates to letting players have more roles in charity work, recognizing that he would like to do a ton, but there is a huge risk of other players -- or outside influences -- abusing the system.)

The second section digs into football, with Tebow noting that the team's personnel this season means defense will have to "honor" more guys, like last year when Harvin was out.

They also talk about Tebow's pro future, and -- yes! -- we get more fodder for my theory that the Patriots will draft Tebow because Belichick loves him, loves the IDEA of him and loves Meyer: Tebow said that when making his decision about whether to come back, he consulted... Bill Belichick. More about his pro development:
What you hear from most guys, all that stuff is stuff that you can learn. The No. 1 thing that you can’t teach is leadership, winning and competitiveness. Will I work at stuff for the next level? Yes. But you know what, I would rather want a coach that wants me for me. For those three things.
That sounds like Belichick.

God: This Pats-draft-Tebow move is going to be so obvious by the time we get to April. And I'm still steeling myself for what it will take to instantly start rooting for the Patriots.


By the way, according to the interview, Tebow is taking 1 class a week that is 1 hour. Otherwise: "I’m a football player this semester."

Last Word: "What Would Tebow Do" Night

36 hours later, the Fort Myers Miracle's "What Would Tim Tebow Do?" Night -- renamed "What Would T.T. Do?" Night -- remains a hot topic of conversation. (See updates at end of that post.)

You could see the gimmick's name-change coming a mile away -- even if the team didn't have absurd components of the promotion like promise rings for everyone and the rumored (but ultimately cancelled) mock circumcision.

Obviously, Florida's position was clear -- and correct. I also am sure that Tebow -- to the extent that he even heard about this -- might have found it mildly amusing, right up to the point where the whole thing became an open mockery of Tebow's religious values.

But keep in mind the goal of every minor-league team: Publicity. They hope it leads to ticket sales, but -- in the absence of that -- national publicity will work just fine.

Given the massive publicity that the Miracle earned for this -- and, to be honest, I am shocked that they were the first to think of it -- I expect other minor-league teams to follow suit, except that it is the end of the baseball season; by next year, Tebow will be a pro.

There is also this idea, discussed yesterday, that there is an aura to Tebow this year that is dominating, in all of sports -- next year, when he is an NFL rookie, he will be a curiosity, but not nearly the sensation that he is this fall.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Staples: How To Stop Tim Tebow

Another great Tebow-related column from SI.com today -- this one from former Gators beat writer Andy Staples, on how to stop Tebow. This is the best analysis I have read about how it happens.

Be sure to check out the "Inside the Play" analysis of the stop on 4th-and-1 versus Ole Miss. Ultimately, though, Staples sums up why it takes a perfect storm to stop him:
To truly contain Tebow, you'll need to force Meyer to make his star carry more than 15 times, spy him with a 290-pound former kick returner and use your future first-round defensive tackle to stuff him on fourth-and-one with the game on the line. This plan is completely foolproof. It can't fail.

Mandel: Tebow Will Be Greatest Ever

Stop what you're doing and read this column from Stewart Mandel, who dives deep into the numbers to create the case that Tim Tebow will finish his career as the greatest player ever.

When I did a similar analysis for the Gators book I contributed to, I went beyond Mandel's formula, which was based entirely on fantasy-football-style individual stats.

You have to consider team performance and the player's role on that team. So: Tebow didn't just lead Florida to a national title in 2008; he was arguably the MVP of the '06 team in a sub role. Obviously, the 3rd title in 4 years -- affirming the "Tebow Dynasty" -- would close out the category.

And there is one other extremely important factor to "Greatest Ever": Mythology, that ethereal combination of on-field (non-quantifiable) moments and off-field legacy-building, in no small part helped by media coverage.

The quantitatively minded may shudder, but we like our "Greatest Evers" to be rounded out by myth -- see Muhammad Ali. See Michael Jordan. See Babe Ruth.

Vince Young was awesome, statistically. He led Texas to a title. But it was the myth of VY -- saving his greatest performance for the biggest game -- that catapulted him in the minds of fans.

This is where Tebow rules over anyone else in college football history -- already. I don't need to recite the various "mythic Tebow" moments -- just check the archives of this site.

But Tebow's individual stats (captured by Mandel and certain to be added to this season); his leadership of championship teams; and his mythology all combine to create "Best Ever."

Fascinating read, and you can see from this week's SN coverage and this week's SI coverage -- the "Is Tebow the greatest college football ever?" meme is ramping up.

Just remember who was there first... (Kidding. More like "Just remember who talks about this topic more than anyone else....")

Does Tebow To Jags Make Business Sense?

There is a presumption that the Jaguars should draft Tim Tebow, if only because he would be a fan favorite -- which would, again presumably, translate into ticket sales.

That's a lot of leaps and assumptions, which the FT-U's Vito Stellino rightly points out, with a fairly novel litmus test: Put the Senior Bowl in Jacksonville. Have Tebow play in the Senior Bowl.

If the Senior Bowl sells out -- presumably because of Tebow's appearance -- then the "Tebow will sell tickets" case is much much stronger, as is the case for the Jags to draft him.

I think Tebow's draft will come down to the Jaguars' emotional response to local pressure versus the Patriots' unemotional recognition that Bill Belichick could turn Tebow into a monster.

(I am fascinated by the notion that the Pats -- one of the most cunning drafters in the league -- would "reach" to get Tebow, if they decided the Jaguars were going to take him very early.)

Why Did Tebow Come Back To Florida?

The cover story of Sporting News magazine this week includes an "as told to" essay by Tim Tebow, explaining first-hand what went into his decision to return to Florida for his senior year. It comes down to two things:

(1) His "platform." He could be a bench-warming rookie in an NFL that doesn't seem to either (a) want him or (b) know what to do with him (yet...give it a year). Or he could be the biggest name in sports this fall, the biggest star in college football. Everyone is paying attention to what he is doing, and Tebow knows (and likes) that.

Exhibit A: The impact his "John 3:16" eye-black being the No. 1 most-searched term on Google the day after the national title game. Both he and his parents recognized the influence Tebow has... as a college football immortal, not necessarily as a pro rookie.

Note especially well that nowhere in his discussion of his "platform" does Tebow talk about religion, evangelism or proselytizing. That is one of Tebow's greatest (and most underrated strengths): He does not impose his very very very strong religious beliefs on everyone through his massive media platform. He is much smarter -- much more opportunistic (and I say that admiringly, not negatively) -- than that.

(2) The history. Urban Meyer put the kibosh on the "undefeated" talk, but it is obvious -- both in this essay and, say, during The Promise speech -- that is Tebow's goal is to be part of the first team in Florida history to go undefeated.

And I think he recognized all the talent coming back -- not just Spikes, but the entire two-deep on defense; the sick recruiting class; the weapons on offense -- and recognized that this was his (and probably Florida's) best shot ever at going undefeated, which would not only be a first for Florida football but would put this Florida team near the top of the greatest teams of all time.

Meanwhile, I think Tebow recognizes that, as it relates to his own individual legacy, going unbeaten would be the crowning achievement of a "greatest ever" career.

I know Meyer wants them to stop talking about that -- and they did, reverting to their standard "Win the SEC East and win the SEC title, then the national-title opportunity will come naturally as a result of that" talking point. That's fair. But I think everyone from Tebow to Meyer to Spikes to Dunlap to fans knows that this team has the chance to be "all-time" special.

And if that wasn't enough: If Florida doesn't go unbeaten, you can bet that at least two other powerhouse teams will (Texas/Oklahoma, USC/Ohio St, Penn State) and even if Florida is the best team in the country, if they are 12-1 to Texas' 13-0 and USC's 12-0, the Gators will be shut out of the national-title game. An unbeaten season is the ante to play for a national title.

What do "platform" and "history" combine to create? LEGACY. I think Tebow thinks of his legacy in two parts: On-field and off-field. What kind of impact is he leaving on the game, and what kind of impact is he leaving on society?

It gibes with his priorities (God, family, football -- in that order), and he needs both to optimize each. Without the on-field greatness, the off-field potential is diminished; without the off-field myth-making, the on-field aura isn't nearly as impressive. This is the core of why he came back.

Tebow, in his own words, goes further to explain himself than any magazine profile -- or blog.

(By the way, in one of my other lives, as a Sporting News columnist, I led my daily column today with an overview of the factors that will go into Tebow being considered the greatest college football player ever, playing off the Tebow cover story in the magazine. Nothing you haven't heard from me before, but it all gets summed up for SN's "national" audience. Check it out here.)

"What Would Tim Tebow Do?" Night Cancelled!

As was obvious to anyone who knows even a smidgen about NCAA rules and Florida's interest in making sure that Tim Tebow's name and likeness aren't commercialized, the Fort Myers Miracle's "What Would Tim Tebow Do?" night was cancelled -- instead, they apparently held "What Would T.T. Do?" Night, which feels like a distinction without a difference, frankly.

The bigger result is that the Miracle got a ton of free publicity from their stunt, which is what every minor-league team strives for. Presumably, they will try again next summer, when Tim Tebow (the brand) has become professionalized.

(You must read Deadspin's take on this. Outstanding. And don't forget to check out With Leather's post about the event, complete with Tebow-Shanoff Photoshop goodness.)

UPDATE: Another must-read take on this, from Y! Sports Doc Saturday's Holly Anderson.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tebow Heisman Campaign Poster Update

Remember yesterday's post about that roadside sign combo that seemed to perfectly capture the essence of Tebow?

Via LSUFreek's powers of Photoshop (plus some help from GQ's photographers), you now have a Heisman campaign poster:

Tebow on the GQ Pics: No Big Deal

Via the Orlando Sentinel, Tebow didn't have all that much to say about the GQ story (and accompanying pictures that created such a fuss). He DID see the pictures.

(By inference, it confirms that Tim Tebow does NOT read TimTeblog.com. I won't hold it against him.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why Are People So Resistant To Tebow As Best Ever?

Riffing off the last post, about Kirk Herbstreit laying out the "on-paper" case for considering Tim Tebow the greatest college football player ever...

The "accomplishments" alone (national titles, SEC titles, Heismans) is probably enough for "Greatest of All Time" (GOAT) status.

But then throw in two other core criteria -- the "intangibles" (like "competitiveness") and the myth-making around him.

In each of THOSE categories, individually, he is the greatest in college football history. Put all the criteria together and it's not even a question.

I think what people balk at is two things: (1) Anointing him "GOAT" before the season has played itself out (fair), and (2) They can't believe that this is happening in real-time.

To (2): We think of "GOAT" as legendary -- in part -- because they are ancient: Babe Ruth, Vince Lombardi, John Wooden... even Michael Jordan, who last played a meaningful game when kids in college were too young to remember him vividly.

Is it so crazy that we are living through the GOAT in college football right now? No, just as it is hardly crazy to think that, in Albert Pujols, we are watching one of the Top 5 baseball players of all time. Or that LeBron may just be the greatest basketball player ever.

Ironically, folks seem to be pretty comfortable saying that Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time and even that Usain Bolt is the greatest sprinter of all time.

Maybe because we feel less of a connection to those sports than we do college football or baseball or other "major" sports.

Tebow Quote of the Day: Kirk Herbstreit

Not a precise quote, but following along the Orlando Sentinel's Andrea Adelson as she tweets a conference call with Kirk Herbstreit:
*on a conf call with herbstreit and matt millen. here is what herbstreit just said about tim tebow ...

*If he ends up achieving his goal he could potentially be a part of 3 national championships, 3 SEC championships and maybe 2 Heisman ...

*I know we’ve had a lot great players in the last 100 years but I don’t know if there’s anybody that can come close to accomplishing that .
I am glad Herbstreit fundamentally agrees with my point: A big part of the "best ever" argument for Tebow is the sheer overwhelming "on-paper" accomplishments. More on that in a sec.

UPDATE: Adelson filed a post about Herbstreit's quotes. Here is the full quote:

Q: Everyone talks about Tim Tebow and how he is one of the best college football players of all time. What are your thoughts on his place in college football history?

A: In my lifetime, not to make this an overdramatic comment, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy have as big an impact on a powerhouse program as I’ve seen from Tim Tebow from Day 1. I think GameDay was down at LSU-Florida his first year as a freshman and you hear about Tim Tebow, but you hear about a lot of guys. I remember when he took the field for a third-and-short with Chris Leak as the starting quarterback and he pushed that entire defense back 5 yards. I had never seen a stadium react to a player like that. I said to (Chris) Fowler it’s like he’s Roy Hobbs from the movie “The Natural.” It’s been a love affair from that point on. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like his last go around.

If he ends up achieving his goal, he could potentially be a part of 3 national championships, 3 SEC championships and maybe 2 Heisman Trophies. I know we’ve had a lot great players in the last 100 years in college football, but I don’t know if there’s anybody that can come close to accomplishing that on the field and then you throw in all the things he represents, the bar has been set in my mind with what he’s doing right before our eyes.

Tebow for Heisman Campaign? (If Only)

As broadcast a little while ago on Twitter by Mr. Pelican Pants: "I think I found Tim Tebows Heisman Campaign advertisement." Yes, that about sums it:



Tim Tebow's Back Is Just Fine

Another take on Tebow's back, via SportingNews.com's resident mad genius, LSUFreek:



(Click on the link above for the complete animated version.)

More From Tebow On His Back, Shoulder

The big news out of practice yesterday: Tebow's back is fine, testing it out yesterday, saying:

"Ran around head-butting people, so good to go."

The bigger news: Tebow's non-throwing shoulder needed pain-killing shots before every game last season, after he injured it in the Hawaii game.

"That's just stuff you have to deal with. That's football. ... I will never pull myself out of the game. I just love playing too much. Some people say it's probably being hardheaded out there, too."

The biggest news: Tebow says his shoulder feels better than it has since 2006.

"It's more comfortable than it was last year or the year before. It's just so much easier now. I can take hits and smile, not grunt now. That will be nice."

That should end any lingering weekend speculation that Tebow's shoulder -- or anything else -- will be a problem for him this season.

More good stuff from the Sentinel's Jeremy Fowler on Tebow's injury history.

Even more good stuff from ESPN.com's Chris Low.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tebow Quote of the Day: On Tebow's Back

"Everything is good. I think it's funny."

-- Tim Tebow, on the state of his back... and the state of the hysteria over his back.

(Quote via the essential Twitter feed from @onlygators. If you're on Twitter, you MUST subscribe.)

Tebow: The Minor-League Baseball Gimmick

Just got an email from the PR staff of the Fort Myers Miracle minor-league baseball team, which on Wednesday is holding "What Would Tim Tebow Do?" Night. Yes, they really are.

Featured:
*Free promise rings for everyone entering the stadium.

*First pitch will be a "jump pass."

*Team manager and gameday staff will deal with problems by asking themselves "What Would Tebow Do?"

*Guy named "Tim Tebow" (not THAT Tim Tebow) will try to walk on some water.

*Faith healer on premises (bonus: if a Miracle fielder makes an error during the game all fans in attendance get a ticket to the regular-season finale next weekend -- really?)

*Plenty of jumbotron replaying of "The Promise."

*If you're wearing college gear at the game -- presumably Florida stuff -- you could win tickets to the Florida-Arkansas game.

Honestly, if the team can sell out a mid-week game at the end of August using only Tim Tebow's name, then that would truly be the Miracle. (Then again, the team is in 1st place in its division in the Florida State League.)

Really, if you live in the area and you are a big Tebow fan, this seems like a pretty fun event to get to -- this kind of crazy is only going to last for a few more months.

Kudos to the Miracle for having some fun with it. I can imagine there will be several bloggers out there who will have a few more clever -- if totally inappropriate -- ideas for this.

(Wait: Inappropriate? More inappropriate than giving out "promise rings" to all fans coming through the gate?)

Monday Morning Tebow: Expected to Practice

Catching you up from the weekend:

*The biggest drama: Tebow's back "situation" that kept him from contact all last week. Urban downplayed it and insisted Tebow would go full-strength at practice today. Tracking...

*Florida is AP preseason No. 1: Not just No. 1, but the most prohibitive preseason favorite in the history of the AP poll. More fodder that this COULD be the best team ever.

*The 2nd-best team is...: Texas, which earned 2 1st-place votes. Lou Holtz picked Notre Dame to meet Florida in the BCS title game, which made everyone chuckle this weekend.

*Florida nearly scheduled Utah for its season opener: Unfair to compare the '08 Utes -- who would have given Florida more of a run than any team in the country -- and the '09 Utes, who would have been beaten, but are still a Top 20 team.

Again, it is all about the story from practice today. But with nearly 2 weeks until the 1st game, the focus should be on keeping Tebow rested and getting everyone else ready.

(Tebow, of course, will hate that. But getting Brantley reps with the 1st team won't hurt. And it's not like Tebow will play a ton of snaps in the Charleston Southern game, if it's an early blowout.)

I am sure that there is some Heisman voter out there who just nudged Colt McCoy ahead of Tim Tebow on his current ballot, simply based on "Well, McCoy seems to be healthier..."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Tebow Read: New York Daily News

Sunday's New York Daily News features a lengthy profile of Tebow by Dick Weiss. It's no GQ-style attempt to understand Tebow; it is your classic "Whoa, this Tebow guy is awesome" piece.

College football fans in New York will be entirely familiar with Tebow -- he has come to the city each of the last two Decembers for the Heisman ceremony.

NYC is a weird college football town -- you won't find many natives with a natural rooting interest; college football just isn't a big deal here.

What you have are New Yorkers who go away to college football schools -- Syracuse, Michigan, Florida, Penn State, Rutgers -- then return with college football fever... and an allegiance.

Or you get folks who relocate from out of town with their allegiance from college (or earlier) intact -- I think of the writer Warren St. John, who came to Columbia (and stayed in NYC to work as a journalist), having grown up in Alabama.

St. John wrote the instant classic "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer" about life following SEC football as one of the cavalcade traveling in an RV.

Weiss's piece is a good primer for non-college football fans who want to be basically conversant about the biggest story in sports this fall. As good a reason as any to write the column.

Sunday Morning: Tebow's Back Still Fine-ish

24 hours after the "Tebow back wha?!?!" situation broke, it is over. Meyer weighed in -- the timing of his reveal that Tebow missed the week of practice was odd and felt forced -- but also said Tebow would be back at practice tomorrow, full-go.

Meanwhile, the Sentinel's Jeremy Fowler went back over Tebow's injury history -- if you can call it that: Tebow has never missed a start, so how injured could he have been? It also speaks to Tebow's ultimate competitiveness; no injury will keep him from trying to play.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tebow Back Injury Update: Fine, Says Meyer

Yes, Tim Tebow was held out of "live" (contact) participation during practice this past week, because he has a lower back injury or strain or problem or don't-know-what-to-call-it.

Urban Meyer insisted that Tebow would be practicing full-go on Monday.

Meyer (per Volin): "He has not missed practice at all. He’s been held out of live situations against the defense mostly to get Johnny Brantley reps, and his lower back was a little sore. No disc issue, and he’s full speed Monday."

Follow-up: Any additional detail about the injury?

Meyer, again: "Before that creates a life of its own, he’s fine, 100 percent,” Meyer added. “We also held Spikes out of some live stuff. That’s what you do this time of year, so we’re good."

One more follow-up: Any reason this is only coming out now, in what seems like something Urban HAD to address, per the rumors?

I would love to see Urban take a page from his close friend Bill Belichick and how Belichick deals with Tom Brady's status each week: He is listed on the injury report every week, healthy or not.

Just to mess with people's minds. I suspect that Tebow -- and his Superman mentality -- would not appreciate being affiliated with weakness of any kind.

Then again, he might just gain even more motivation from it.

Rivals: Tebow Held Out Of Practice?

Per a report on Rivals (and Gator Country), lost in all the fun about the beefcake pictures in GQ magazine, was Tim Tebow held out of practice this week because of back issues?

Now, it is most likely a precaution -- in the toughest preseason in program history (or perhaps in any program in the country), why risk any injury to your best player?

(Perhaps that was even part of the inspiration for Urban Meyer to give the team the day off on Thursday.)

But make no mistake: "What's up with Tebow's back?" will now be a huge Gators' issue of the weekend, and all next week -- and probably the season.

UPDATE: Joe Schad says Tebow will be back in practice on Monday. Definitely going to be the story for the media.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Draft: Tebow Not On Mel Kiper's Big Board;
The Essential Dynamic of Tebow's NFL Stock

Of all the NFL Draft dynamics between now and the end of April, one of the most intriguing has to be watching the Tebow-doubting draft gurus reconcile their bearishness with what will inevitably be Tebow's climb up team draft boards.

On the one hand, you have your integrity -- if you don't think that Tebow is worth a 1st-round pick, you should absolutely not have him on your 1st-round "board."

On the other hand, you have reality -- a player's value isn't what a draftnik says it is: It is what the teams' "willingness to pick" is.

If teams -- Jaguars, Patriots, Redskins, etc -- send out signals that they are interested in using a 1st-round pick on Tebow, the draftnik has two choices:

Hold out. Or have a "board" that reflects reality of where a player is likely to go.

Now, the draftnik can hedge and simply say "This is simply how I grade the players, not how they will be picked." That works for now -- and probably through February.

But then we get into "mock draft" territory -- and where a player will go (what draft slot) matters infinitely more than where a draftnik ranks the player relative to other potential draftees.

And so we are here: Mel Kiper does not have Tim Tebow on Kiper's first "Big Board" of the Top 25 prospects of the 2010 NFL Draft. (Insider subscription required). I, however, contend that Tebow will be a Top 25 pick. (And folks like Gil Brandt agree with me.)

At some point, Mel -- and other draftniks who are bearish on Tebow -- will have to reconcile their feelings with reality... with looking foolish, really.

I am sure they will have a hard time with it; it's called cognitive dissonance.

I for one am actually kind of torn myself: Sure, I would love to see Tebow's draft stock "legitimized" by someone like Kiper or McShay, if they followed the bullish Brandt and put him in the top half of the 1st round.

On the other hand, I find their potential pre-draft conflict fascinating.

As NFL scout Russ Lande put it in the big GQ profile of Tebow:

"He's going to be the most debated guy in ten years. It's going to be a circus with this kid. Oh, my God."

Can't wait.

UPDATE: Great little detail in Jeremy Fowler's post on Kiper today, recounting an on-air exchange between Mel and Tim.

UPDATE 2: Not about Tebow, but about the Draft. A lot of talk about Dunlap being No. 3 on Kiper's Big Board. I think Haden may emerge as a Top 10 pick -- the top CB in the 2010 draft -- before the season is over. Spikes is obviously a 2010 1st-rounder.

But there is a lot of talk about Haden calling Will Hill the best player on Florida's defense right now. That would be the best defense in college football history, featuring no less than 3 2010 NFL 1st-round picks. Expect Hill and Janoris Jenkins to be targeted as 2011 1st-round locks.

Tim Tebow vs. Daunte Culpepper

Inspired by the Tebow-vs.-Ward throwdown earlier this week, the Sentinel has polled fans for the best Heisman-winning and non-Heisman-winning QBs in the history of the state of Florida.

Now it comes down to Tebow versus... Daunte Culpepper. That's a pretty inspired choice for an opponent -- god, remember how good Culpepper was at his NFL peak? (Call that a "Tebow best-case.")

I think most fans would put the ultimate debate between Tebow and Danny Wuerffel -- but if Danny isn't even the best QB in Florida history anymore, it is only fair to bring in "the best of the rest." And that's Daunte.

Vote here. Kudos to the Sentinel for taking a slow-week meme and turning it into something fun.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tebow Quote of the Day: Tebow on Marotti

"With every rep, you’re having to decide whether you’re going to give in to the pain. I know that mental toughness we build up going through our workouts helps us push through in the fourth quarter. Working as hard as you can on one more rep translates to working as hard as you can on one more play. It all starts in the weight room."

-- Tim Tebow, on Mickey Marotti's strength and conditioning workouts, as quoted in Muscle & Fitness magazine. (Per the PBP's Ben Volin, who also provides the beefcake pics).

Two thoughts: (1) In addition to all the other areas where Florida is No. 1 in the nation (QB, defense, special teams, head coach), perhaps most underrated is that their strength program is arguably tops in the country, too. (2) Apparently, this is beefcake photos week for Florida football.

SEC New Media Policy vs. Tebow Fans

This feels like an ancillary topic -- I would much prefer to be talking about Tebow-related news and analysis -- but given that the SEC's new media policy has been in the news recently and that I am, nominally, an SEC-related blogger, I think I should weigh in.

I would point you to this new post by CNBC's Darren Rovell about the SEC's new new-media policy, which itself riffs off of this morning's front-page story about it in the New York Times.

Rovell's point is a good one: The SEC is creating a policy directed at straw men -- the best SEC bloggers have no interest in taking crappy photos or worrying about video from the stands.

Many are probably not even IN the stands -- they are at home, watching the game on the couch and updating their blogs or Twitter feeds during the game... or enjoying the game, but simultaneously thinking about how they will analyze it for their audience tomorrow.

Sure, there are cynical sites out there that might take lots of photos or video from the game, then try to monetize them on their sites. But fans will see through that -- there's no added-value there. Not when there are better photos and better video available from rights-holders.

Besides: The SEC has already relaxed their policy as it relates to fans -- if you take a (crappy) photo from the stands or a short video clip of you and your buddies celebrating in the stands, then post that to Facebook, don't expect the SEC to come demanding you yank it down.

So I'm not quite sure WHO the new policy is for. As it relates to TimTeblog.com, even if I go to The Swamp for games this season, my pathetic pictures from the stands will be of little value to you -- maybe entertaining, probably not. And I certainly won't waste my precious game-day experience fiddling with my Flip video camera to try to capture Tebow throwing a TD pass.

Not when I can experience it for myself, then use that experience to inform my post-game analysis of how the game went.

The SEC is probably right to have SOME kind of policy -- with the money they are generating from selling game video rights, they need it. But as we have seen, they are hunting and pecking their way through it.

The way to go is to continue iterating -- set a policy, let fans (and media) respond, change the policy, repeat. There is a natural balance to be reached, I am sure.

Just don't turn this into a "bloggers vs. rights-holders" thing. The good bloggers are much more interested in serving their audience through something they do well -- analysis -- than something someone else does well -- photos and video.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ESPN's Low: Tebow, Brantley Are SEC's Best

When ESPN.com SEC blogger ranked the SEC's best QB situation, he obviously ranked Florida No. 1. I will say that he got one thing wrong(-ish) and one thing entirely right.

Wrong-ish: "Tim Tebow might be the best college player of this era." Don't go out on a limb or anything. "Might be?" "Of this era?" (Emphasis mine.) I appreciate conservatism, but between Low and Palmer and Ware -- why won't folks just say, "Yup: If X happens, best ever."

Entirely right: "[John] Brantley would be a starter for at least three-fourths of the teams in this league." So few media folks seem to notice this, let alone point it out. Very important, both for 2010 (and 2011) and in case -- yeesh -- Tebow goes down with injury.

EDSBS Countdown Reaches No. 15

And it is what you would expect -- EDSBS is normally cheeky, to be sure, but these Countdown images have been gloriously earnest. Be sure to go back and check out the others.

Tebow Quote of the Day: Jesse Palmer and Andre Ware

On a conference call, Jesse Palmer and Andre Ware were asked if they thought Tim Tebow was the greatest college football player ever.

Jesse Palmer:
We all know what could happen. I don’t know if Tim Tebow’s the greatest quarterback to ever play college football, but I think he’s one of the greatest leaders, he’s one of the greatest competitors.

If the season goes the way Tim Tebow and Florida Gators fans want it to go, we could potentially say Tim Tebow is one of the greatest players of all time, maybe the greatest of all time. There have been better quarterbacks to play the game, guys that threw the ball better, made reads better but it’s hard to argue when you watch Tim Tebow in terms of his competitive spirit.
Andre Ware:
I would describe Tim Tebow in a sense where I would say the most decorated by the time he ends his career if he pulls the ultimate double, another Heisman Trophy and a national championship. I can’t go as far to say the greatest quarterback to play the game because there have been some outstanding ones.
Way to hedge, fellas.

McCoy Not Tebow The Heisman Favorite

Colt McCoy, not Tim Tebow, is the favorite to win the 2009 Heisman, according to Chris Huston, who runs the awesome HeismanPundit.com, which -- for my money -- is the leading indicator of Heisman tracking in the country.

It feels like the strongest argument for McCoy is not affirmative, but rather defensive: "Well, he is the only one of the Big Three -- Tebow, Bradford, McCoy -- NOT to have won it."

It's the old "He's due" rationale.

I disagree with voters who use the "Lifetime Achievement" philosophy to pick their Heisman winner, but I also recognize that is a huge factor with many voters. (I also recognize that Tebow -- as "GOAT"-eligible -- might benefit from this, too.)

Meanwhile, let's remember the most notable detail of the 2008 vote: Tebow earned more 1st-place votes than any other player, including Bradford.

In regional breakdowns, it felt like voters in the Midwest and Southwest intentionally left Tebow off their ballots, in order to increase the chances of their guys, Bradford and/or McCoy.

McCoy and Bradford will once again split votes in those regions -- and I suspect that many voters will continue to either shunt Tebow into 3rd or leave him off completely, if they can.

Here is what it comes down to: If Tebow has Florida unbeaten after the SEC title game, wire-to-wire No. 1 heading into the Heisman voting deadline and BCS title-game pairing, he will win the award. If Florida stumbles, Tebow's Heisman chances are gone -- but at that point, I suspect that neither he nor Florida fans will care much about the Heisman.

McCoy must beat Bradford head-to-head, while leading Texas to an unbeaten season and Big 12 championship. At that point, I think most voters will, at the very least, have McCoy over Bradford.

The only debate then is between McCoy and Tebow.

Absolutely a dynamic that will be must-track throughout the season.

Reax Around the Web to Tebow GQ Piece

Reaction to the Tebow piece in this month's GQ:
*From the Orlando Sentinel
*From OutSports
*From Tabloid Prodigy

As I said yesterday, there is a lot to dive into in the article. I am in the middle of breaking it down and will post on it later this week.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tebow Profiled in GQ (And Deadspin's Take)

This month's GQ profile of Tim Tebow is probably not as entertaining as Deadspin's post about GQ's profile of Tim Tebow:
It won't be a college football magazine preview this fall without a profile of God's favorite warrior and this one does not disappoint. Talk about his parents Filipino orphanage? Check. Circumcision stories? Check? Home schooling? His mega-church? Check, Check. The disrespect from NFL scouts? Got it. Angry, defensive quotes from Urban Meyer? You betcha. Harlequin romance-level descriptions of Tebow's Adonis-like physique. Boy howdy....
...

The author, Jason Fagone, doesn't really get anything new out of Tebow, but then there's nothing new to get. (Although Tebow did bus Jason's dishes for him. Seriously.) ... The point is that he's not hiding anything and his Jesus Freak persona is not an act.

That's what makes him such an attractive interview subject. Reporters who talk to him realize he's not trying to pull one over on them—unlike every other athlete and coach they meet. So they love him, they love to write about him, and the missionary has his mission accomplished.

Again, that was Deadspin's Dash Bennett, not the GQ article itself. And then there's the photo...

More quotes from the actual article later.

Tebow Quote of the Day: Bobby Bowden

"People keep asking me about Tebow. You know, is he the best ever? I don’t know if he’s better than Charlie. I don’t think he runs better than Charlie. I don’t think he throws better than Charlie. And Charlie only played [quarterback] two years for us."

-- Bobby Bowden, who just made the bulletin board for Florida's game with FSU in Gainesville on Nov. 28. (Then again, what would you expect Bowden to say: "Oh, yes: Tebow is definitely better than my all-time favorite player here at FSU.")

Look: Charlie Ward IS the best QB ever at Florida State. And if you were making a list of the Top 20 greatest QBs in college football history, Ward would be on the list. (Tebow fans should even have sympathy that the NFL snubbed Ward entirely -- if only the Wildcat was in use then.)

But Ward is not better than Tebow.

All credit to Orlando Sentinel FSU beat writer Andrew Carter for getting the quote out of Bowden.

More from the Sentinel: Jeremy Fowler looks at the two players' stats and it is a blowout in Tebow's favor. But again, what did you expect Bowden to say?

Tebow-NFL Wildcat Watch: Pat White Debut

So Pat White -- who may be considered a nominal proxy for Tim Tebow's NFL future, despite some substantial dissimilarities (enough caveats in there? sheesh) -- made his NFL debut last night.

And it was underwhelming.

2-of-7 passing for 14 yards and an INT.
6 rushes for 20 yards (incl. 1 for 10 yds).

Now, is it worth drawing any conclusions from that? Probably not. Yes, the Dolphins are as innovative as any team in the league as it relates to the single-wing (umm...for now).

But the White-Tebow comparisons are always going to be flawed. They are vastly different players; circumstances will dictate (if only Tebow could be on a team coached by David Lee...)

What I will say is that it seems obvious that the single-wing (or "Wildcat-ish") will percolate throughout the NFL all season long (see this great post about the Wildcat by Smart Football).

By next April, its evolution will be far enough along -- combined with Tebow's natural abilities and marketing potential -- that it will seem obvious to draft him in the top half of the 1st round.

For a closer -- not quite as fast, but certainly as high-profile -- analogue, try Michael Vick and his Wildcat fit with the Eagles.

Tebow Tops Top 5 Most Intriguing QBs

Vaulting off this morning's earlier post about Greg Paulus suddenly making otherwise forgetting Syracuse interesting, let's rank the Top 5 Most Intriguing QBs in College Football:

(1) Tim Tebow. Forget the national-title repeat or the Heisman double-up. He is playing for nothing less than status as the greatest college QB -- or player -- of all time.

(2) Terrelle Pryor. I don't think a sophomore QB has been so ready to dominate since Tim Tebow in 2007. If Jim Tressel can lose the conservative outlook and let Pryor do his thing, wow.

(3) Jeremiah Masoli. The Pac-10's best QB is not at USC, in what feels like the first time in a decade (because it has been). If Oregon is to (finally) topple the Trojans, it is on Masoli.

(4) Jevan Snead. Expectations couldn't be higher for Ole Miss. Maybe they can't beat Florida a 2nd straight year, but Snead will be expected to lead Ole Miss to the SEC West title and a BCS-level bowl game.

(5) Greg Paulus. Come on -- he has made Syracuse interesting for the first time since Donovan McNabb left. Maybe it is a one-week wonder; maybe he fulfills his prep potential as the best QB in his class. The point is that he single-handedly makes Syracuse something to watch on TV.

Honorable Mention: Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford (because we kind of know what we're going to get -- yeah yeah: the OU-UT game is the Game of the Year. Got it.)... Aaron Corp/Matt Barkley... Max Hall... Zac Robinson... Daryll Clark...

Am I missing anyone? Put it in the Comments.

Tim Tebow vs. Greg Paulus

What does Greg Paulus being named starting QB at Syracuse have to do with Tim Tebow? For that matter, what does Stephen Strasburg signing with the Nationals have to do with Tim Tebow?

As it relates to this season: Not much. (Although Paulus may have vaulted into the conversation about the Top 5 most intriguing QB storylines of the season, with Tebow, Snead, Masoli and Pryor. But that is for another post.)

But as it relates to Tebow's NFL future, I think it signals a lot.

Why would the Jaguars draft Tebow? His ability? Sure. But just as much for his marketability.

Consider what last night's news means:

Greg Paulus -- even as a freak show or marketing ploy -- makes Syracuse a topic of national discussion... even a must-see. And Syracuse is TERRIBLE.

Stephen Strasburg -- even as a once-every-five-days novelty -- makes the Nats a must-see every time he pitches. And the Nationals are TERRIBLE.

I said this in my morning post over at DanShanoff.com: If you're not going to be a winner -- a champion, frankly -- you better be interesting or intriguing or fascinating in some other way.

Paulus makes Syracuse interesting. Strasburg makes the Nationals interesting.

And if a cachet-less NFL team -- like the Jaguars -- drafts Tebow, he instantly makes them interesting.

And while "interesting" isn't as, um, interesting as "champion," it sure beats "irrelevant."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Award Watch List: Tebow For Manning

2008 Manning Award winner Tim Tebow has, predictably, made the award's watch list in 2009.

The Manning Award goes to the best QB in the nation -- like about a half-dozen others -- but it is unique in one important way:

The Manning is the only award voted on and given out AFTER the season is over -- bowls included. That means that the award takes things like, say, the national title game into consideration.

If the Heisman had been awarded after the national-title last year, who do you think would have won?

It isn't great for logistics -- and most of the other awards in sports account only for regular-season performance, ignoring the postseason -- but I like it as a differentiator.

Tim Tebow vs. Tommie Frazier

You may have missed this over the weekend, but Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald put together a fantastic column.

The premise: In all the talk about Tebow as the greatest college QB ever, don't forget about Tommie Frazier.

I couldn't agree more. I think Frazier may be the most underappreciated QB of all time, even if most fans will put him in their Top 5 all-time. (I certainly do.)

His team's records are unimpeachable -- that '94/'95 Nebraska mini-dynasty has been considered the greatest team of all time; I think that is the standard Florida shoots for this year.

Frazier himself was in complete mastery of the Huskers' offense, and even if it was mostly run-based, Frazier was a terrific passer, with an absurdly good TD-INT rate.

Frazier's myth only grew in 1995, when he led Nebraska to a romp in the season opener in New Jersey against West Virginia, then much of his season was lost to a blood clot, then re-emerged to annihilate then-unbeaten No. 2 Florida in the national-title tame.

What I liked most about Shatel's piece is that unlike most folks in Big 12 country making the case for Frazier, he actually talked with Tebow about Frazier.

Said Tebow: "I was a big Tommie Frazier fan growing up. I loved the way he played. I wanted to be just like him.''

Here is the big quote from Tebow:

I watch that Fiesta Bowl (1996 win over Florida) game two or three times a year. In fact, I just watched it a couple weeks ago. At the time, it made me cry because they were beating my team. But I love watching that run. What did he break, like, 27 tackles? Watching that game gets me going. It's an example of how you play the game. I loved all the Nebraska quarterbacks. I loved how they played the game, with their toughness, their leadership.

But I will save the last word for Frazier himself:

I see a lot of him in me. I see a quarterback who's not afraid to run the ball, not afraid to take charge. I see a quarterback who people feel can't throw the ball but still goes out and gets the job done. He's the leader of the team. Those are all qualities I hope I possessed. And hopefully when he watched me (growing up), he said, that's a guy that I like the way he plays the game.'

Outstanding, well-reported analysis. Kudos, Mr. Shatel. I think this will stand as the definitive reporting and analysis comparing Tebow to Frazier. And from a Nebraska guy!

College Football's Top Villains: Tebow No. 3?

ESPN.com's Chris Low is on to an interesting gimmick. First he picked out the top "villains" for every SEC program (He had Alabama's biggest current villain as Tebow, naturally.)

Then he stretched -- perhaps a bit too far -- in expanding that to biggest villains in all of college football.

He ranked Tim Tebow as the No. 3 villain in all of college football. Hunh? Here was Low's take:
They love him in Florida. And why not? He's the perfect player and a perfect role model. But everywhere else, they're sick of hearing about him and even sicker about him beating up on their teams.
Low seems to ascribe "Tebow fatigue" to non-Florida fans hearing about him too much and being bitter that he keeps beating their teams. Does "sick of" equal "hate?" Don't think so.

I'm not sure that makes a player a "villain." To me, "villains" have to have some sort of nasty side. Being overexposed and a winner isn't quite villainy, as we traditionally think about it.

Let's use the most visceral criteria for "villain":

You wouldn't want a villain coaching or playing for your team. I don't want Lane Kiffin coaching my team. I don't want Lawrence Phillips playing for my team. I think everyone in America -- outside of Norman or Austin -- would want Tebow on their team.

You know my feeling about this: I actually don't think there is a Tebow fatigue or Tebow backlash or Tebow hate or, least of all, Tebow "villainy." There is begrudging respect, even from the biggest rivals in the SEC (see Tennessee's Clay Travis, or even Lane Kiffin himself).

And that is arguably Tebow's greatest achievement of all.

(By the way: Low ranking Barack Obama as the No. 2 villain in college football, simply because Obama weighed in on wanting a playoff in college football -- a point Low agrees with! -- seems odd, almost in a weird has-nothing-to-do-with-sports-Low-just-hates-Obama way. As a throwaway joke at the back of his Top 5? Maybe. At No. 2? That's just cred-undermining.)

Did You Go To Tebow Fan Day?

Oh, sorry, Florida didn't hold "Tebow Fan Day" yesterday -- they held "Football Fan Day."

But -- as with SEC Media Days -- you would be forgiven for thinking it was an event entirely about Tim Tebow. So: Did anyone go? Any stories to report?

I think this picture in the Gainesville Sun says it all:


The picture is of fan Amber Bradley, in a wheelchair following a car accident. Contrary to reports, she did not stand up, healed, after this handshake. But she sure looked happy. Here is to Amber's complete recovery and a long, healthy life.

This really speaks to the point Tebow made after Saturday's practice, about the difference between fans who want to approach him to talk or shake his hand or get an autograph because they are fans, versus their interest in posting about it on the Web or selling it on eBay. Tebow's quote:

"You wish people would be real fans instead of always wanting something from it."

You can only hope that the majority of the fans at Fan Day lined up for Tebow (and the rest of the team) were doing it because they were fans excited about meeting the team, rather than eBay sellers.

The Sun article mentioned that folks started lining up in the middle of the night. So here's the question: Would you spend one sleepless night in line in order to get an autograph and picture with Tebow?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tebow Quote of the Day: On TMZ

"They’ll do something to get a reaction, but what can people do if you’re just nice to them?"

-- Tim Tebow, after Saturday's practice, on TMZ (h/t: Volin)

Analysis: What an illuminating statement that basically summarizes Tebow's media strategy -- to the extent that it is a "strategy," rather than simply who he is.

Tebow Quote of the Day: On Internet Fodder

"You wish people would just be real fans instead of always wanting something from it."

-- Tim Tebow, after Saturday's practice, on public sightings turning into internet fodder. (h/t: Volin)

Analysis: My kids have a Tebow autograph from 2006 that my in-laws got them from a run-in with Tim at the Outback in Gainesville. Would never even think of posting it online.

Tebow Quote of the Day: On Media Attention

"I still haven’t read the Sports Illustrated article, although I hear about it, people tell me this was nice or whatever, but I’m not a big reader of myself or watching it."

-- Tim Tebow, after Saturday's practice, on whether he pays attention to the media attention. (h/t: Volin)

Analysis: I guess that settles whether Tebow reads TimTeblog.com. He does not.

Tebow Quote of the Day: On G.O.A.T. Talk

"It's definitely humbling, but I don't want to hear it. I just want to go play ball."

-- Tim Tebow on the talk about him as the greatest player of all time, after Saturday's practice (h/t Volin)

Analysis: Aha! But the REST of us get to talk about it, ad nauseum.

Tebow Quote of the Day: On Ole Miss

"Motivates me even more, because I get irritated to myself about that."

-- Tim Tebow, on when people bring up the Ole Miss game to him, after Saturday's practice (h/t: Volin)

Analysis: I think the reason they don't lose this season is, in part, because they can always reference "Ole Miss" and the focus returns. That's why the Arkansas game isn't really a "trap." Not when Meyer and the coaching staff can point to "Ole Miss."

Tebow Quote of the Day: I-Formation Mania

"It won't be our main offense, but I think you'll see it."

-- Tim Tebow, after Saturday's practice, on the Gators using the NFL-friendly I-formation.

You know how I feel about this:

If Meyer wants to adapt his offense because he has the O-line and RBs to implement it; to give opposing DCs something to think about; and to toy around with it in advance of having a more "pro-style" QB in place next year in John Brantley, that's all good.

But no NFL scout is going to be swayed by a couple of I-formation plays in a game, where Tebow will hand off the ball 99 percent of the time. He will have plenty of time to showcase his ability to play under center during draft prep from January through April.

(Given my penchant for creating dorky short-hand for these various memes, I think I'm going to dub this "I-Formania.")

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sunday Tebow Media Amazing: Pete Thamel

What a treat Sunday morning to open up the Sunday New York Times and read an article about Tim Tebow and Florida 2009 by the program's most talented chronicler: Pete Thamel.

Read the whole thing here. It actually downplays Tebow -- I mean, he is at the center of the team's story, but Thamel goes way deeper: The team's depth, the coaches' sense of "urgency and paranoia" (love that), Tebow's role in hiring Loefler, new pro-style sets.

However, I wanted to point out one nuanced thing that Thamel points out that most "national" (ie, anyone but beat writers) almost universally fail to point out:

Punter Chas Henry and kicker Jonathan Phillips are insanely important.

Lost in Tebow as potentially the greatest player of all time or the Florida defense as potentially the greatest defense of all time is the Gators' special teams.

Let's add them to the mix: Florida's 2009 special teams may be the greatest special teams of all time. (Just look at how ridiculous they were last year.)

Urban constantly harps on special teams -- hell, he COACHES special teams. The players (even the starters) WANT to play on special teams for him.

Meyer has proven that excellence in special teams can and will be the difference between a championship-level team and a very good team. It is one of his four pillars of his "Plan to Win."

Henry may be the best punter in the nation (and the most overlooked talent on the team). Phillips is money inside of 40 (though untested beyond 40).

The team has allowed 100 punt-return yards over the last two seasons. Digest that for a second. The rush-team feels like they could block a punt on any given snap.

Brandon James is... well, I literally get jumpy when he trots on the field for a punt-return or kickoff, because I am so sure he will take any given ball to the house.

Why is Florida in 2009 as prepared as any team in the country to vie for "Greatest Team of All Time?"

Because they have one of the best offenses -- and perhaps the best offensive player. They have the best defense in the country -- perhaps the greatest defense of all time. And they have the best special teams in the country. Plus the best head coach. Plus the best recruiting. It's absurd.

But what is absurd isn't that I -- or anyone else -- has expectations that this team has the potential to be "Best Ever" in any number of categories, especially "Best Team Ever."

Read the entire article here.

Tebow Links for a Saturday Morning

What? You missed TimTeblog coverage of Tim Tebow's 22nd birthday yesterday? Just scroll down the page to see it all.

*Ahh: Now THAT is a magazine college football preview cover. (h/t Preston Mack)



*Tebow is on the Maxwell Award watch list. Of course he is. So are the two other guys above.

Pretty quiet Saturday, actually. I'm watching the CBS College Football Preview, which is mostly players and teams in EA animation, but right now (1:32 p.m.), they are doing a segment on Tebow, Bradford and McCoy. Had to have that, right?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tebow Birthday, Cont'd: Sentinel

Mike Bianchi has 10 things he thinks Tim Tebow will accomplish in his 22nd year.

And here is the Sentinel's Jeremy Fowler weighing in on Tebow's 22nd birthday -- an event that probably cannot be mentioned without the "miracle birth" story included.

Fowler (or his editors) pulled out a picture of Tebow with a baby, but if you are going to use a picture of Tebow with a baby, there is only one:


That is, arguably, the greatest Tebow photo of all time.

Tebow Quote of the Day: Birthday Edition

“We wished him a happy birthday. We didn’t sing."

-- Urban Meyer, on how the team celebrated Tebow's birthday (which I have been calling "Tebirthday" but has developed some Twitter legs as "Tebowmas.")

h/t: The indefatigable Edward Aschoff for the Gainesville Sun's GatorSports.com.

Best of Twitter: Tebow Birthday Messages

I scour Twitter so you don't have to... Today: Birthday shout-outs for Tebow. What else?

GatorsNow: Know someone that is not a Gators fan. Plow over them today to honor Tebow's 22nd birthday!

clintshane My favorite part of Tebowmas is goin to the mall and letting my cousin sit on the fake Tebow's lap. His eyes just light up.

BianchiWrites It's Tim Tebow's birthday. Shouldn't it be national holiday?

edsbs: Happy Birthday, Tim Tebow. BIG HUGS FOR THE BABY RHINO.

sarahrebecca12 It's officially a good day. Because Tim Tebow's birthday cannot in any way, shape or form be a bad day. Happy Birthday, Superman!!! :)

jbowesmusic Just realized I'm going to Gainesville on Tim Tebow's birthday. Will the stores be closed for the high holy day?

davewoodbury Close the banks. Shut down the Post Office. Everyone take the day off. It's Tim Tebow's birthday. Party at my house.

rachelhoff814 Did you know I share a birthday with Magic Johnson, Halle Berry, Tim Tebow, and Pakistan?

SeanCablinasian Taking a poll -- who opened gifts last night on Tebow Eve and who waited till today to open their gifts?

MattyT83 Simming through Madden 10 some, stole Sam Bradford at 9th overall. Drafting a LE next. Tim Tebow just went to Houston in Rd. 2

OSaadelson wish timmy tebow a happy 22nd birthday, #Gator fans! http://bit.ly/CfVWu

wesrucker Today is Tim Tebow's 22nd birthday. @ClayTravisBGID knows how he's not celebrating it.

sarahrebecca12 Okay. I lied. Apparently Tim Tebow's birthday can be a not so great day.

Alternate Sports Illustrated Tebow Covers

The blog Gump for Heisman gets huge kudos for this batch of alternate SI covers for Tebow. Here is one sample that seemed appropriate for today's quasi-holiday, but check out the full batch here.

Vick on Eagles vs. Tebow in NFL

Let's pause from the "Tebirthday" celebration for a moment...

You knew there had to be a way I would fit Mike Vick joining the Eagles into Tim Tebow's NFL future. And here it is:

Fit matters.

Vick always felt like an awkward fit in the West Coast offense in Atlanta (despite the success); he will be in a similar WC offense in Philly.

There are other reasons that the fit is a good one -- McNabb's mentorship, stable team, stable coach, great (if crazy) fans -- but not necessarily because Andy Reid knows how to use Vick.

Similarly, we look at the career of Vince Young, wedged into Jeff Fisher's (incredibly successful) system, rather than built around VY's unique skills.

Tim Tebow's best shot for success in the NFL will come with a coach innovative enough to use Tebow innovatively -- in the single-wing or otherwise.

That is why, despite my general dislike of Boston sports, I would really like to see Tebow playing for Bill Belichick in New England; I think Belichick would unleash Tebow on the NFL.

A lot of teams will want to draft Tebow because he has something -- not the least of which is his toughness, character and history of winning.

(A lot of teams probably wanted to pursue Vick, although it wasn't for his character.)

The question is: Will Tebow end up with a team that can deploy him effectively, which really means innovatively.

Back to the "Tebirthday" celebration...

On This (Tebow) Date: August 14, 1987

Continuing coverage of Tim Tebow's 22nd birthday...

Big kudos to the Sentinel's Matt Humphrey on a fun blog post that looks at what life was like in America back on August 14, 1987 -- when a scrawny baby was being born to Bob and Pam Tebow.

Let me add a few other details:
  • There was no internet, obviously. Heck, there was barely cable.
  • Newspapers still had "Too late for this edition" box scores.
  • BCS? Ha. Not even a glimmer in someone's eye.
  • Miami won the national title -- Jimmy Johnson was that era's Urban Meyer.
  • The national-title game was undebatable: Unbeaten Miami vs. unbeaten Oklahoma
  • (Syracuse was unbeaten, too -- remember when Auburn tied them in the bowl game?)
  • Tim Brown won the Heisman -- remember when Notre Dame was relevant?
  • Remember who finished 3rd? Two words: Gordie. Lockbaum.
  • Florida State ended the season No. 2, with its only loss to Miami.
  • (FSU would begin a ridiculous run of 14 seasons of Top 5 finishes.)
And on 8/14/87, I was just about to enter my freshman year of high school. Yikes, I'm old.

Tebow Turns 22: What This Birthday Means

And so it is Tim Tebow's 22nd birthday. 22 is a bit of a weird birthday -- 21, of course, you get to drink (not that Tebow would). At 25, you get to rent a car.

22 feels like... well, sort of like adulthood. For most college kids -- particularly the ones born in the second half of the year -- you celebrate 22 during your first months OUT of college. It feels adult.

One of the more interesting details of Tebow's biography is that he was held back a year -- he was always tank-sized, but the extra year on his peers probably didn't hurt. (See Gladwell's "Outliers")

And so Tebow is, in college football years, an "old 22." Doubt that really has much impact on his overall maturity -- he seemed to act maturely from high school on.

It goes without saying that 22 is going to be a big year for Tebow:
He might win another national title.
He might lead Florida to its first unbeaten season.
He might win another Heisman.
He might be crowned the Greatest College Football Player Ever.
He will be drafted into the NFL and begin his pro career.

Not a bad year ahead. Worth celebrating today, because from here on out, it's all business.

Happy 22nd Birthday, Tim Tebow

Don't we all get the day off or something?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Season Preview Mag Porn: Sports Illustrated

Hey, wow, it's great to see SI featuring Tim Tebow and Florida on its college football preview cover...

Whaaa?! That's not Tim Tebow; that's Jevan Snead! And that's not Florida; that's Ole Miss!

Look: I know that SI is going with a theme of "Party Crashers" -- teams that could conceivably break into the BCS (Ole Miss, Penn St, Oregon, Oklahoma State).

But REALLY: Is THIS the year you want to be going with "Party Crashers" as your theme of the season?

This season, of any in recent memory, is DOMINATED -- or WILL BE dominated -- by who-you-think-would-dominate: Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, USC.

Ole Miss, Penn State, Oregon or Oklahoma State may be contenders for at-large BCS bowl bids, but since when has the season been about THAT? There are ALWAYS those teams.

This season will be defined by a true clash of the titans -- if all breaks as we suspect, unbeaten Florida vs. unbeaten Texas (or, at the very least, unbeaten Oklahoma or unbeaten USC).

Now, college football is nothing if not a sport that rarely breaks as you suspect in August, but even if things don't break that way, does anyone not think the Big Four will be in the BCS title game?

I understand what SI is doing - I just don't get why they would. Not when you have the biggest sensation in the sport's history -- Tebow -- plus the two closest competitors in McCoy and Bradford, putting the "Big" in "Big Three."

I am impossibly biased, but I would have begun and ended this year's cover with this:

Can't Spell G.O.A.T. without G-A-T-O-R-S

Either that, or:

Best. Team. Ever.


Sub-headline: "Why Florida May Be the Greatest Team of All Time (And Tebow The Greatest Player)"

I mean, come on. This was a gimme.

Quote of the Day: EDSBS on Tebow's Beard

"It's not a beard, it's a cowcatcher mounted on the front of a pain train."

-- Orson Swindle of the must-read EDSBS. What more could you need to see to read the full post?

(Congrats to Orson Swindle on EDSBS's move to the SBNation network of blogs, where he will join Teblogroll-favorite sites like Alligator Alley and Team Speed Kills.)

Tim Tebow on Wikipedia in 2070

I cannot recommend this parody post from Team Speed Kills more highly -- what Tim Tebow's Wikipedia page will look like in the year 2070. Among the details:
*It is estimated that 1 in 15 American males is named after Tebow.

*In 2010, [Heisman] voters took the unusual step of giving Tebow the Trophy again, "because he's just that good."

*Under [Coach] Tebow, the Gators went 204-0 and won 17 consecutive national titles.

*World peace was achieved in the "Tebow Treaty of 2051."

* In 2059, Tebow was hailed for discovering a cure for cancer.
Read the whole thing here. I tip my cap to you, TSK. "Tebowvania" just might stick.

Tebow Morning Review: Missed Yesterday?

If you didn't stop by TimTeblog.com yesterday -- or only came by once -- you may have missed the half-dozen posts that were published. Here is a quick recap. Check them out here, or scroll down:

*Myth of Tebow "haters" (propagated by Tebow!)
*Does Tebow have a weakness? (Past-tense?)
*Tebow vs. Leinart/Krenzel/Dorsey/Weinke/Martin
*Tebow on expectations.
*Tebow Media Day rundown.
*Tebow-Bradford-McCoy: It is SO on.

More to come throughout the day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ESPN.com on Tebow, Bradford, McCoy

Time for today's 3:30 read (at 4...): This fantastic overview by ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel of the three-headed trio of Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy -- and how they are the ruling class of college football.

Have we ever seen something like this before? The nation's top 3 players (or top three Heisman contenders) playing on the nation's top 3 teams.

*Bradford and McCoy are not just friends, but intrinsically tied by their teams' Big 12 rivalry -- by definition one must win and one must lose.

*Tebow and Bradford are connected by last season's BCS title game -- not to mention (as Maisel points out) the NFL scouts' uniform love of Bradford versus their skepticism of Tebow.

*Tebow and McCoy? Well, if you believe the polls -- or your own instinct -- the two are on a collision course for the 2010 BCS national-title game, leading two unbeaten teams.

Too much in here to pull out a quote. Read the whole thing.

Tim Tebow's Weakness

Today, the Orlando Sentinel's Matt Humphrey asks: Does Tim Tebow have a weakness?

Yahoo's Matt Hinton would probably argue that his "weakness" might be rush-ends pummeling him (see Ole Miss's defensive line last September -- or Michigan's D-line in January '08).

But it is very possible that since the Ole Miss debacle, Tebow (and the O-line) have gotten infinitely tougher about letting him get "gotten to."

In the same way that without the Ole Miss game, the team would not have found its mettle to make its run to the national title, perhaps that was the moment for Tebow to shore up that "weakness."

"Weakness" is probably the wrong word. I like Hinton's description of it as Florida's -- and not Tebow's -- "soft underbelly."

The Title Repeat: Tebow vs. History

Sporting News had an interesting column today, putting Tim Tebow's attempt to repeat as a national champ up against the 5 other QBs of the BCS Era who had a chance to repeat, but failed.

Here is how I see it:

1999 Tennessee (Tee Martin): They failed because Phil Fulmer was too self-satisfied after winning the first title. Tebow, Urban Meyer and Florida want this 2nd one -- and history -- way more.

2000 Florida State (Chris Weinke): Weinke was absurdly overrated. Oklahoma was at the front-end of a half-decade reign of destruction, and FSU was at the tail-end of its relevance. Florida, on the other hand, appears to be at the peak of its dynasty -- last year was a bonus.

2002 Miami (Ken Dorsey): Beyond the fluky ending, the U simply didn't take Ohio State seriously. Mentally unprepared. Meyer, Tebow and Spikes have Florida insanely focused on taking nothing for granted.

2003 Ohio State (Craig Krenzel): Regression to the mean. If OSU played Miami 10 times, the Canes would win 9. OSU's close calls from 2002 finally caught up with them. Meanwhile, Florida had a 30+ point average margin of victory last season (before the SEC title game, the only close call was the one-point loss to Ole Miss), with more to come this season.

2005 USC (Matt Leinart): Ahh, Leinart comes up often. Here is the reality: That '05 USC offense was prolific; its defense was mediocre, particularly for a national-title contender. On the flip side, Florida's defense this season is -- on paper -- potentially the greatest defense in the history of college football.

With history as a guide, the three biggest keys to Florida's bid to repeat:
(1) Mental toughness.
(2) Defense.
(3) Insulating themselves from inevitable flukes.

Tebow leads on No. 1. He has no problem -- as he did in the SEC title game and national title game -- running into the defensive huddle to fire them up. He is the trigger-man for the scoring that will ensure flukes can't hurt the team. That combo separates him from the 5 QBs above.

This sounds a lot like Urban Meyer's "Plan to Win." And it is why Florida will repeat as champs, becoming the first team to do it since the equally dominant Nebraska team of the mid-90s.