Greetings from Central Florida...hopefully all of you had a great Christmas and New Year.
I'll send out my LSU-Bama pick in plenty of time for you all to call your respective bookies, but first I have to get something off my chest, and I can't think a better time than right now. And I'm breaking one of my own rules by posting about the NFL on a college football blog, but in this case it’s 100% justified.
As a UF alum and proud native of the mean streets of Jacksonville, Florida, no one took more pride than I did in watching Tim Tebow silence the critics tonight. I don’t plan on discussing tonight’s Denver-Pittsburgh game, nor will I get into the spiritual irony of Timmy throwing for 316 yards (Tebow 3:16 t-shirts will be on sale at Sports Authority very soon).
However I will take credit for two things:
1. Much like my hatred of Lebron James (please see my Hate Week picks for more background on why I hope Lebron gets hit by a bus), I was also WAY ahead of the curve on doubting Tim Tebow (minus the hatred of course).
2. Tim Tebow’s success at UF and up to this point in the NFL is directly related to an open letter I wrote to Timmy back in October of 2008.
That right…I said it. Tim Tebow owes me a fruit basket, or a case of that energy drink he endorses...something.
Let’s flash back to October 2007...Florida-Georgia weekend. UGA crushed my beloved Gators in Jacksonville 42-30. After UGA’s first TD the entire team rushed the field in what’s now become known as the “Gator Stomp”. UF lost 3 other games that season, and in each of those losses Tebow failed to lead UF back from 4th quarter deficits, and he had several chances to do so. However based on his Xbox statistics, he won the Heisman, and deservedly so.
Fast forward to 2008…Georgia is pre-season #1, and just about everyone’s pick to win the SEC. Tebow is just about everyone’s choice to repeat as Heisman winner, in spite of whispers about him falling short in the clutch. The season begins, and four games in UF inexplicably loses at home to Ole Miss. Tebow gives his little speech, and the rest is history, right?
Sure...if you believe in fairy tales.
After that now famous Ole Miss “speech”, most every rational Gator fan thought to themselves, “Yeah cute speech Tim, how about you hit Louis Murphy in stride when he’s wide open AGAINST FREAKING OLE MISS!! WE JUST LOST AT HOME TO OLE MISS AND WE STILL HAVE TO PLAY MOTHERF&@^#ING GEORGIA!!!
I wasn’t sold on the speech, even after a 30-point beatdown of LSU just two weeks later, so when the Cocktail Party rolled around I fired off the manifesto below…after which Tebow not only led UF to a 49-10 blowout against UGA, he later led a 4th quarter comeback against Alabama in the SEC title game in what I consider to be his greatest performance as a Gator. UF capped the season winning the national title win over Oklahoma…all because of my little letter calling Timmy out before the 2008 Georgia game.
Enjoy…editorial comments have been added in parenthesis.
Tim Tebow, I’m calling you out. Never in my life have I seen such hype surrounding a college player who, other than personal statistics, has done little to elevate his team to a championship...division championship, conference championship, bowl championship...anything. Hell, you haven’t led a 4th quarter comeback as a starter.
Granted, you did win the Heisman, only because Dennis Dixon’s knee exploded on national television against Arizona. But you didn’t have a Heisman moment, in spite of putting up historic numbers, or a signature win against anyone who mattered. And with apologies to Wix and every Vol fan here, FSU and Tennessee just don’t matter like they used to (keep in mind this was 2008…FSU matters now, Tennessee still doesn’t).
Georgia matters. They always have, even when they sucked ass in the 90s. Georgia will always matter. Last year the Dawgs took your emotional energy and love of the game, multiplied it by 85 scholarship players, two 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and slowly began to expose your true weakness…your ability to lead under pressure. And in exposing you to the rest of the league and the country, UGA may have turned the corner in a series that UF has dominated for almost 2 decades.
Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh on you Tim. From all accounts you are the blueprint of what a student-athlete should be on and off the field. You're everything anyone could ask for in a football player and a person. The same can be said of Chris Leak, who I was as equally harsh of for being the softest QB ever to play at UF (who knew John Brantley would raise the bar so damn high in less than 5 years?) . I wasn’t sold on Chris Leak until he picked apart Ohio State’s plodding defense…and I wasn’t alone. However Chris Leak went 3-1 against UGA, and Ron Zook was his coach for 3 of those seasons. Tim Tebow, you have no such excuses.
Your legacy will be defined by your performance this Saturday. And by performance I mean results, not stats. When the Gators fall behind, and they will at some point, how will you respond? Nothing you’ve done up to this point leads me to believe that you can turn a 10-point deficit with 8 minutes left in the game into a 4-point lead with 2 minutes left in the game. This current generation of Gator fans has no appreciation of the pain and frustration UGA caused us older and crustier types back in the 70s and 80s. It's up to you to make sure they don't find out.
Again, you have no excuses. Brandon James will set you up with great field position. Your defense is much improved from a year ago. You now have a couple of legit running backs with world-class speed to take some of the pressure off. There's a guy named Percy Harvin on your team who's pretty good, but I think you already know this because you attempt to throw to him on just about every play. The only thing missing is you coming up big at the required time. You missed wide open receivers against Ole Miss all day long, and when your number was called, you couldn’t come through on 4th down. Sure it was a crappy play call, but you’re supposed to be Superman.
If UF loses this weekend, it will mark the first time UGA’s won consecutive games in this series since 1989. I was a junior at UF at the time. If UF loses on Saturday, it may be because the defense couldn’t contain Stafford or Moreno. It could be because Dan Mullen called another crappy game. It might be because UGA is flat out the better team. Whatever the reason, I will hold you responsible as the unquestioned leader, face of the program and the guy who claimed that "no one will work harder than I will and this team will" after losing to lowly Ole Miss.
Is that fair? Probably not. But the perception thus far has been more of a reality than many in Gator Nation are willing to admit. Hell, I’ll just come out and say it. Tim Tebow, I question your ability to lead this UF team to a championship of any kind, this year or next. And I also question your ability to lead UF to victory this weekend. I will gladly eat my words should you prove me wrong.
At the end of the day Tebow proved me wrong back then, just like he did tonight…and will continue to do. Now you know the rest of the story…the truth is out there.
You're welcome Tim, glad I could help.
You're welcome Tim, glad I could help.
Be good.....and GOOOOOOO BRONCOS!!