By Chris Le
In the hit of the weekend, Tim Tebow was skewered in a 41-7 Florida victory over Kentucky.
In an initial moment of sadism, my overriding sentiment wasn’t concern for Tebow, who lay motionless for several minutes, but deep satisfaction. Never do I wish for injury though. It wasn’t the fact that Tebow got clocked that I enjoyed; that aspect of the equation is inconsequential. But I felt satisfaction seeing the already legendary Tebow brought down from his pedestal — like seeing the straight-A prom king pee his pants, or in this case like seeing the heartbroken reaction of the hot girls who fawn over him. I acknowledge the apparent injustice to Tebow himself, as he’s done nothing but represent his university and his family with class and integrity. But my beef isn’t with Tebow. It’s with the media infatuation and the fervent Tebow apologists who grate me. From looping replays of “The Pledge” to the fan-perpetuated catalog of Tebow-isms (“Superman wears Tim Tebow pajamas.”), I suffered from Tim Tebow-fatigue. So ubiquitous were the hyperboles that, in a backfiring self-fulfilling prophecy, fans began to buy into his infallibility and immortality. Their admiration turned into hubris.
But seeing Tebow lying half-conscious for what seemed an eternity, and with the cameras cutting to crestfallen Gator fans, hand over mouth, hoping for a sign of capacity, they now realize he is human after all — that the season is long and that the BCS Championship will not be handed to them. It was pure sobriety.
Florida fans, however, weren’t the only ones to have a moment of clarity. Perhaps it was the media blitz saturated with the Florida QB, but I’m starting to drink the Tebow Kool-Aid. I always agreed that Tebow is one of the greatest — that is, one of the most decorated — players in college football history. No one can deny the National Championships, the Heisman, or the gaudy stats (73 passing touchdowns, 48 rushing — just eye-opening). That I never doubted. What I questioned, however, was his skill. Sure, he was accomplished, but would you pick him over the 2005 Vince Young, or the ’82 Herschel Walker, or O.J. Simpson in ’68? If you asked me last year, I would’ve answered with a resounding, Hell no!
But the more I see Tebow on the field, as a passer and as the biggest short-yardage threat ever, and more importantly in the huddle and locker room, where you can almost physically see Tebow instill his will in teammates, I’m beginning to see Tebow in a different light. “He’s just a system quarterback,” they say. I say, “Who cares?” I’m beginning to see Tebow as a transcendent talent and not just a workman who’s big on intangibles and short on ability. If you ask me, he’s got a surfeit of both.
The look on Gator Nation with Tebow flat on his back said it all. A team that possesses a championship defense, which returned all 22 players; an offense that fumes NFL talent and speed; a team with a backup quarterback, John Brantley, who some say is the third best pure passer in the SEC and the conference’s next great player — they all thought their season was gone with Tebow. Even with all the remaining talent and a top coach, everything — Florida’s feeling of invincibility, their big dick mentality, their championship aspirations — hinged on Tebow. I can’t think of a player who brings more physical skill and permeating mental toughness than this real life Superman.
1. Alabama — Playing how everyone expected Florida to play.
2. Florida – Will Tebow be back in time for a nighttime road trip to LSU on October 10?
3. Virginia Tech — Proved Miami was a tease. VaTech is the real class of the ACC.
4. Texas – Haven’t been overly impressive; I’m talking overall as a team and, surprisingly, of Colt McCoy’s play.
5. Boise State — The Oregon victory looks better each week. They’re going undefeated. Book it.
6. LSU — Sloppy. Team isn’t gelling, but they have potential to turn the BCS on its head against Florida, who will possibly be Tebow-less.
7. Houston — Victories over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were huge attention grabbers. But the season will tell if the Cowboys and Red Raiders suck or not, rendering the wins impressive or ultimately meaningless.
8. TCU — Their stout defense could lead them to a BCS bowl.
9. Cincinnati — Same as above, but replace “defense” with “passing game.”
10. Oklahoma — Pummeled poor Idaho State and Tulsa without Sam Bradford. Will they need him against Miami?
1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida — His to lose. There’s a chasm between the one and two spot.
2. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame — Finally living up to his high school hype, performing like the best passer in the nation with 10 touchdowns to only one interception.
3. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas — Got out of his funk against UTEP, throwing 3 scores on 80 percent passing.
4. Case Keenum, QB, Houston — 366 passing yards against Oklahoma State, 435 against Texas Tech, but more importantly, both came in victories.
5. Jahvid Best, RB, California — Hit a real snag against Oregon, running for a mere 55 yards on 16 carries. The supposed best running back in the nation shouldn’t be locked down like that — not to mention, the supposed sixth-best team in the nation shouldn’t be drubbed 42-3.
6. Tate Forcier, QB, Michigan – Premature? Maybe. And I’m expecting a stumble any week now. Every true freshman sooner or later begins to look like a freshman. But that moment has yet to come for Forcier. What he has done so far grants Heisman consideration.
7. Who cares? No one I haven’t already mentioned will be in New York at season’s end. I must, however, give a shout out to Eric Berry — by far the best defensive player in the country. And, please, if there was a debate between Berry and USC’s Taylor Mays, it’s over now. Mays is a physical freak and will post video game stats at the NFL combine, but he makes coverage mistakes where Berry would make highlights. But Berry won’t win it playing safety.