Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tim Tebow vs. Cam Newton: The Debate

Tim Tebow vs. Cam Newton: Some folks have gone so far as to say that what Newton has done this year tops any single season from Tebow.

Like we said about Tebow in 2007, Cam has had one of the greatest individual seasons in college football history.

Tebow in '07 was my gold standard. That Newton even qualifies as worthy of a debate speaks volumes about the kind of year Newton has had on the field.

Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. ET, listen in to the Score's "Morning Jones" show, hosted by my old friend Bomani Jones, for an amazing debate: Shanoff vs. Jones. Tebow vs. Newton.

(Click here for instructions of how to listen -- it's on Sirius channel 98, or you can listen on your computer for free here. I'll also post a link after, when his producers have it archived.)

I have no problem laying out my side of the argument: While we might have a fair debate over single-season vs. single-season, Tebow crushes Newton -- and everyone else -- in "body of work."

It's not even close: Two national titles. Three SEC Championship games. One Heisman and THREE Top 3 finishes. And an unprecedented cult of personality.

And so I'm crawling back into Tebow's '07 season:

Comp %: 67% (234/350) (11th in nation)
Yards: 3,286 (23rd in nation)
YPA: 9.39 (1st in nation)
TDs: 32 (8th in nation)
QB Rating: 172.47 (2nd in nation)

Yards: 895
YPC: 4.3
TDs: 23 (3rd in nation)
1st QB ever to have 20 TDs passing and 20 TDs rushing.

Compare to Cam's 2010 season -- all stats without an extra game for the bowl:

Comp %: 67% (165/246) (11th in nation)
Yards: 2,589 (43rd in nation)
YPA: 10.52 (1st in nation)
TDs: 28 (10th in nation) (Ints: 6)
QB Rating: 188.16 (1st in nation)

Yards: 1,409 (10th in nation)
YPC: 5.8
TDs: 20 (2nd in nation)
2nd QB ever to have 20 TDs passing and 20 TDs rushing. (Actually, 3rd: Colin Kaepernick from Nevada pulled it off just before Cam did.)

You can understand why Tebow's 2007 season was considered the new standard -- but also why Newton's 2010 season was arguably even better.

Now, Tebow was playing with less around him, while Newton was playing with a championship cast around him. (That cuts both ways: Because Tebow had less around him, he was called on to run the ball a lot more than if he had great short-yardage runners on the team; that said, Tebow WAS the best short-yardage running back on the team.)

Newton also had an arguably superior "championship" moment: Leading Auburn back from 24-0 on the road at Alabama, with a championship on the line, to a win. Tebow's closest analogue was leading his own 4th-quarter comeback against Alabama -- but that was the 2008 SEC Championship game.

That segues into the biggest differentiator between Tebow '07 and Newton '10 -- Newton led late-comeback after late-comeback, while Tebow's comeback moments (best typified by "The Promise," which framed the entire SEASON as a comeback) came in 2008, not 2007.

And that turns the comparison into apples-and-oranges: It is impossible to isolate Tebow's 2007 season; you can't ignore the body of work, from his Offensive MVP role on the national-title team of 2006 to his leadership (and stats!) in 2008's national-title year to his role at the center of a Florida team that was one bad game from playing for a national title.

I'm happy to debate Tebow vs. Newton -- it is a lot of fun, particularly when you start talking about the off-field mythologies... for BOTH players -- but I am content to marvel at what Tebow did in 2007 AND what Newton did this season.

That each are able to compare favorably with the other -- let's call them the two greatest individual seasons in college football history -- is amazing enough.


  1. Tebow was also only a Sophomore and it was his first year as a starter. Newton is a red-shirt Junior.

  2. Newton is a FOURTH YEAR redshirt Junior I believe.

    But people need to realize.. I think Cam is really nowhere near Tebow. Cam is a role player on his team believe it or not. Cam actually has a much better team suited to a run first QB. Auburn is known for having a power run game. UF has more of a pass heavy offense. This is why I feel Florida let cam get away and chose Brantley instead. Note this article where Cam's dad says Cam couldn't even beat Brantley let alone Tebow. http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/sports_college_uf/2009/01/exclusive-qb-ca.html

    So bottom line is that Auburn's great o-line, great power runners would make ANY running QB look great. This offense would have likely been more suited for Tebow than Florida's. OI also think it's more suited to SEC play. Note that Tebow and Florida never beat Auburn in Tebow's career at UF.. AND Auburn played Alabama better lat season without Cam than Florida did last season WITH Tebow.

    Tebow not only filled the role of superior passer on Florida.. but he was Florida's primary runner. Auburn's power run game opened Cam's running with Opened Cam's passing. This is why I feel Cam is juts a role player and why he could completely collapse without that great run game around him. I also think he would have likely gotten injured uf he was the primary runner like Tebow because his height and long legs are a liability running.

    So as I see Tebow was highly underrated on Florida because he carried the load.. and Cam is highly overrated on Auburn because he is being carried.

    The funniest part to show this is when Cam sat in the SEC champ game his little white backup QB came in and busted off a 30 yard run!