When Tim Tebow was collecting rings, trophies and TV face-time as a member of the Florida Gators from 2006-2009, the world was his oyster, and the world (mostly) loved Tim Tebow.
Tebow was the ultimate poster-boy for college football. Clean cut (other than the manly scruff), larger than life in both size and personality, and as pure as the white driven snow.
Oh yeah, and a hell of a football player to top it off.
Gator fans and a large portion of the female population absolutely worshiped Tebow (and I don’t mean that in a figurative sense, I think there’s still a temple or two down in Gainesville). Fans on the other side of the field tried hard to hate him, but other than just making fun of his rampant goodguy-ness, it was hard to really find flaw with the Gator quarterback.
It wasn’t even accurate for detractors to call him a big phony, because to be honest, there has never — ever — been anything disingenuous about Tebow. Even his famed “Tebowing” came from the heart.
Tebow’s success in the NFL was limited to a few flashes behind a brilliant Broncos defense, and one inexplicable overtime playoff win
He was forged by the Gods it seemed. A Roy Hobbs in shoulder pads and spikes. Anything he said he was going to do, he did. And brother, did he take losing personally. Best of all, Tebow made college football fun to watch. Whether you were cheering him on to one of his countless victories, or praying to your own God to see him crumble like cheap drywall, you couldn’t help but watch this polarizing figure in orange and blue.
When you glanced over Tim Tebow’s resume coming out of college, it seemed like a can’t miss for a lucrative and successful NFL career was staring you in the face. All-American, two-time National Champion, numerous Player of the Year awards, and a Heisman Trophy to put the lid on the career accomplishments.
College football was going to miss Tim Tebow, even those who didn’t want to admit it. He was the best thing there was in the sport, and as a former University of Georgia student, that pains me to the core to say.
But scouts, coaches and NFL executives saw something that most didn’t get to see until Tebow started actually playing in NFL games…
This guy wasn’t cut out to be a quarterback in the National Football League. A guy with his resume dropping to the 25th pick in the first round? Something was amiss.
From the Denver Broncos, to the New York Jets, to the cup of coffee with the New England Patriots, Tebow’s success in the NFL was limited to a few flashes behind a brilliant Broncos defense, and one inexplicable overtime playoff win over the highly favored Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tim Tebow never quite found his stride in the NFL – Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mismanaged and undervalued by the Jets, completely out of his element with the Patriots, Tim Tebow’s NFL career was over almost as quickly as it began.
And for those of you who are about to jump in the comment section with your collusion theories that NFL owners and coaches were conspiring to keep Tebow out of the league, the Obama-Birthers are saving you a seat at the banquet table.
Tebow continued to vow that he was not only going to play in the NFL, but he was going to play as a starting quarterback. Finally a flaw. On overinflated sense of underachievement. Regardless of what every analyst and quarterbacks coach was saying to the contrary, Tim Tebow was convinced that his dream was not dead.
*Gives gentle nod to F. Murray Abraham’s brilliant portrayal of Antonio Salieri*
But then…do you know what happened?
ESPN gave birth to the SEC Network, and with it, they brought college football’s greatest conference and its prodigal son back together once more. When it was announced in December 2013 that Tebow was joining the SEC Network, there was much rejoicing from haters and lovers alike…as well as Sir Robin’s minstrels.
Tebow had made several appearances on ESPN’s staple Saturday morning college football preview show, College GameDay, and made his professional debut as a broadcaster for the network in the 2014 BCS Championship Game. It was obvious from the start that his enthusiasm for college football (in particular the SEC) hadn’t died at all…it hadn’t even hibernated.
Now Tebow is part of a regular panel on the traveling SEC Network pregame show, SEC Nation. Along with Joe Tessitore, Marcus Spears, Paul Finebaum — and the slightly more attractive than Finebaum, Kaylee Hartung — Tebow is giving analysis and breakdowns of games with the type of joie de vivre that only he can deliver.
It’s fantastic, I tell you.
- In a time when college football is going through one of the biggest upheavals and systematic changes that the sport has ever seen, Tim Tebow brings a grounding pole and rams it into the ground with the force of Ulysses, giving us all a warm reassurance that the game is still a bunch of young kids doing their best at a game that many of us never played beyond our backyards.
If you haven’t watched SEC Nation yet, give it a look. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s a group of raucous, passionate football lovers, who have an affinity for wanting to draw the camera in their direction, and Tebow fits right in.
Yes, he’s still a bit excitable and thunderous at the microphone, but that’s part of his charm. He loves what he’s doing. He loves talking about loving what he’s doing. He loves talking about the SEC and (yes) about the Gators too (can’t be helped, last we saw they’re still in the conference).
But Tebow on the set with a bunch of loveable goofballs just enjoying their Saturday and talking about football, school traditions, tailgating and more football, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Not that Herbstreit, Corso and company on GameDay aren’t enjoyable too…it’s just a different vibe on SEC Nation, and for those not suffering from SEC-fatigue, it’s a completely focused show. All SEC, all Saturday, all Tebow.
College football needs Tebow, and whether he wants to truly admit it or not, he needs college football. Although he says he hasn’t given up his NFL dreams, he’s looking more and more comfortable on the set and in front of the cameras with each passing week.
Tebow is back, and he can spend his Saturdays on my TV screen from now until the Chick-fil-A kows come home…as long as he’s not wearing orange and blue.