“The Best Thing That Ever Happened”

Tebow, not winning the Heisman, Mike Bianchi explains in the Orlando Sentinel:

Tebow was victimized by being Tebow — perhaps the most famous and highly publicized player in college football history. Some fans and voters are obviously sick of the massive Tebow lovefest that has permeated college football since Tebow signed with UF. How else do you explain Tebow receiving more first-place votes (309) than any of the other candidates, but finishing third because he was completely left off 154 of the 904 ballots?

“They either love the Gators or they hate us,” said Tebow, who failed in his attempt to become the only player in history other than Archie Griffin to win two Heismans.

Florida fans who are upset because Tebow finished third — don’t be. This might be the best thing that ever happened to the Gators heading into the Jan. 8 national title game against Bradford’s Oklahoma team. Tebow, although he was the first person to congratulate and hug Bradford after he won Saturday night, was more than a little perturbed he didn’t win.

“I’ll use this as motivation,” he vowed. ” … . On Jan. 8, we get to decide something a little bit better and I’m excited about that.”

Again, this is no knock on Bradford. He’s had a spectacular year. But let’s be honest, shall we? Bradford won because of his gaudy passing numbers, many of which were accumulated at the end of blowout victories against outmanned Big 12 defenses.

Could I get a clarification, please? On the top of my Heisman ballot, it says to vote for the “Most Outstanding College Football Player” and says nothing about voting for the quarterback who put up the most obscene passing numbers. The word “outstanding” in my book means you “stand out” above the others. And, to me, Bradford and the other Big 12 quarterbacks in contention ( runner up Colt McCoy of Texas and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech) were all clones of one another. Tebow stands out as a once-in-lifetime athlete.

The Big 12 quarterbacks are about numbers and statistics; Tebow is about moments and memories. The Big 12 quarterbacks are measured in passing yards accumulated; Tebow is measured in folklore created.

•Like when he gave the emotional, tear-stained speech after the team’s only loss of the season against Ole Miss. The Gators haven’t lost a game since and the speech was compared to Knute Rockne’s “Win One for the Gipper” pep talk by CBS broadcaster and college football historian Verne Lundquist.

•Or like the Florida State game when some FSU fans angered Tebow by cheering after UF star Percy Harvinlay on the wet, muddy field with an injured ankle. Tebow went up to his coaches and insisted on carrying the ball because he wanted “to hit somebody extremely hard.”

On the very next play, Tebow bulled into the line and moved the entire pile 3 yards into the end zone. After getting up from the bottom of the stack, Tebow ripped off his helmet to show a face caked with mud and streaked with FSU’s garnet end-zone paint.

Following the game, iconic FSU Coach Bobby Bowden called Tebow “The greatest football player I’ve ever seen at quarterback.”

Tebow is the greatest football player one of the greatest coaches in history has ever seen — but not the most outstanding college football player of the year?

Doesn’t quite add up, does it?

Then again, Gators fans should be ecstatic with Heisman voters. They did exactly what Ole Miss did three months ago: They not only inspired Tebow; they incited him.

Not just for one more game, but perhaps even for one more season.

“Maybe,” Tebow said and smiled coyly, “this is motivation to come back for another year and try to tie Archie.”

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