Is Tim Tebow the Greatest College Football Player of All-Time?

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Is Tim Tebow the Greatest College Football Player of All-Time?
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Next January, Florida's senior quarterback can potentially walk out of the University of Florida with some of the following hardware:

  • Three National Championship Rings
  • Three SEC Championship Rings
  • Two Heisman Trophies (Best Player in College Football)
  • Two Associated Press 'College Football Player of the Year' Honors
  • Two Sporting News 'Player of the Year' Honors
  • Three Maxwell Awards (Best Player in College Football)
  • Two SEC 'Male Athlete of the Year' Honors
  • Two SEC 'Offensive Player of the Year' Honors
  • Two SEC 'Scholar-Athlete of the Year' Honors
  • Two Davey O'Brien Awards (Best Quarterback in College Football)
  • Three -year Consecutive All-American Honors (Associated Press, FWAA-Writers, Walter Camp, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS Sports, College Football News, Rivals.com, Scout.com)

Some of those accolades are very rare.

Since 1936, there have been only four teams to have won at least three national championships in a four-year period: Army (1944, 1945, 1946), Notre Dame (1946, 1947, 1949), Minnesota (1934, 1935, 1936), & Nebraska (1994, 1995, 1997).

There has been only one player (Archie Griffin) to have won the Heisman Trophy twice.

There have been zero players to have been honored with the AP 'College Football Player of the Year' twice.

There have only been three players (Howard Cassady, Billy Cannon & Archie Griffin) to have been honored with the Sporting News 'Player of the Year' twice.

There have only been two players (Tim Tebow and John Lattner) to have won the Maxwell Award twice (none have done it three times).

There have only been three SEC players (Shaquille O'Neal - Basketball, Danny Wuerffel - Football, Alistar Cragg - Track & Field) to have been honored with 'Male Athlete of the Year' twice.

There have been three players (Ty Detmer, Danny Wuerffel, Jason White) to have won the Davey O'Brien twice.

So if Tim Tebow accomplishes those things can we call him the Greatest College Football Player of All-Time?

No.

Sorry Bob and Pam Tebow.

Sorry Jesus.

Tim Tebow should not be considered the Greatest College Football Player of All-Time.

But Why?

It can be pinned on the media's reluctance to recognize many outstanding athletes during the midst of their greatness. Let's face it, there is a tremendous bias on a few players each year when equally capable ones are ignored. The 'intrepid' sports reporters of yesteryear shone the spotlight in the most predictable of directions.

It is not that the media, the plumpest whipping boy on the block, should afford another flogging for the sake of our sweat-drenched fingers, but that, in this case, they most assuredly deserve it.

Until 1984, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that television contracts in college football violated the Sherman Antitrust Act (NCAA v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma), the general public was placed in a perpetual blackout. We were dependent on a product whose chief means of delivery was based on how much money it could generate.

The Big 10 had good players because the Big 10 was marketable. Notre Dame was a great brand name to the catholic demographic in our country. Chicago and Los Angeles produce great ratings. There was no way of independently gathering information. We were helpless to the whims of the media. 

They invest in what makes money, both with their equipment, their emotions and their opinions.  Does anyone remember how ESPN Gameday only shows up to venues that hosts the ABC Primetime game? (ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney) 

The question of who was great and who got people watching NBC was a blurred line. Much more than it is today. And when you consider that it was the media who recognized and distributed all the accolades and rankings, it only becomes more confusing looking back.

Why does Alabama not have any Heisman Trophy winners?

Is it because they produce inferior players or is it because Tuscaloosa can not produce a 8.5 ratings share and the greater Cincinnati area can? Which New York paper wants to send a reporter down to the sticks in Mississippi anyway?

Just some hick named Archie Manning down there, right? If you think regional bias is bad now, consider a time when nearly every player played under the very narrow spotlight of regional television. Archie who?

Eight times, in fact, Archie played this way; enough to ignite a legend in the South, but hardly enough to make a dent nationally. He finished a distant fourth in Heisman voting in 1969, behind players from the national powers of Oklahoma, Ohio State and Purdue despite leading his team to a top-10 ranking.

The best player in the SEC until Herschell Walker was a pothole in our national picture?

Since 1984, what list of top quarterbacks, from then until now, would not be complete without Tommie Frazier and Vince Young? Fierce competitors. Amazing athletes. Both, on the other hand, will be made into tiny footnotes in college football.

When all memory of their play is lost and our grandkids will have to rely on award lists from Wikipedia, they will barely exist on 'best of' lists.

What about players like Percy Harvin and Dennis Dixon? If you've seen them play, wouldn't they shoot up to the top of any list? Also, unfortunately, mere footnotes.

No. We can not know for sure whether Tebow is the greatest football player of all time. Certainly, he is the greatest I have seen play. But what do I know? The further one looks back into the dim light of college football history the more blind we become. Why should I have to accept recorded history when the people recording it sold advertising to print it?

Tim Tebow might end up being the most decorated college football in history. Perhaps the sheer volume of information legitimizes his place better than any of his predecessors as well.

You can, for instance, watch literally every game in the country these days, jump to YouTube for highlights and discuss every tid bit of minutia on message boards. Tebow is scrutinized unlike any other.

But until we have that kind of access to the past as well, and we will not, I do not think it is right to claim anyone as the Greatest Ever. Sorry Tim.

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