Just like that... his life flashed before my eyes.
You might have noticed a huge change in atmospheric pressure on Planet Earth Saturday night. It's possible that the Earth may have even shifted off of it's axis a bit.
Do not be alarmed; there are no meteors approaching and the planet's core is plenty stable.
What you felt was the collective GASP of the Gator Nation, followed by the proverbial shift of the Earth as "The Man of Steel" came crashing to the ground.
I tend to stay away from the "Superman" references when talking about Tim Tebow, as he is just a college kid who happens to run the spread offense differently than anybody we've ever seen. However, the more I know of him and what he represents, the more I understand the reference.
I didn't care much for it until I started seeing young children's reactions when seeing him or talking about him. For those of you who don't care about Florida football or care FOR it, you may not understand or even want to, but this young man means so much more to this community than a National Championship or two.
He truly is what we would want our sons to grow up to be and what we'd want our daughters to bring home to have dinner.
He is what we'd ask from a STUDENT-Athlete.
He is the kind of person we want our children to grow up admiring.
He is an unapologetic-ally true to his faith.
He is the face of college football this decade.
He is lying on his back... and he is not moving.
I'd be completely fooling myself if the thought of where Florida's season was going didn't flash through my mind, but that only happened once he sat up. At that moment, when the camera panned in on Tim laying on his back, chest rising up and down at an alarming rate, with his hands briefly at his sides in the air with his fingers spread out as if he still had the ball, my first thought was, "Timmy, just let me see you shake your legs".
I feel guilty for just hoping that he would lay on the ground and writhe around in pain, just to let us know that he could move his arms and legs.
His offensive lineman reached down to grab his hand to help him up. He pulled Timmy's hand from the ground and as it slipped through his teammates grip, it fell to the ground , showing as much life as anvil.
When the smoke cleared (and literally, Taylor Wyndam's hit on Tebow may have left a vapor trail), Tebow was helped up and to the sideline. Rumor has is it that when he came to, the first words out of his mouth were, "Did I hold onto the ball?".
The rumors that his next words were, "Man these guys from Troy sure do hit hard" are unfounded.
As we were discovering that he would likely be OK, and that at least he could walk and support his own weight on his own (although, now that I think of it, I never saw him standing afterwards), we began to look for someone to blame for this.
The prime suspects were:
Whoever was supposed to block the right defensive end. The right side D-End came in completely unabated, giving Tebow only about 1.2 seconds to find his target.
Taylor Wyndham- The aformentioned Kentucky defensive end who laid the hit of a lifetime on Tebow. After the first replay, we started screaming that he led with his helmet (his helmet was at Tebow's chest and actually had nothing to do with the head injury).
Marcus Gilbert's left knee- The Florida right tackle was coming over while blocking his assignment and as Tebow was falling, his knee hit the QB square on the back of his head, knocking him out cold.
The left sideline side judge- I'm not kidding about this one either. Two plays prior, the side judge called a bogus holding penalty on Gator TE Aaron Hernandez, which backed up the offense, leading to the passing play where Tebow was hit.
Urban Meyer- The cry heard all over was, "Why was he still in the game?! It's 31-7!!"
Ladies and Gentlemen, you show me a coach who pulls his starting QB out of the 3rd quarter of a conference game with a 23 point lead, and I'll show you a head coach that will be traveling with his team to the Independence Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl, magic-jack.com Bowl, or something cut from that cloth.
I can list for you some coaches who wouldn't pull their QB with that lead: Bob Stoops, Phil Fulmer, Mack Brown, Pete Carroll, Butch Davis, Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, and Ron Zook.
I threw two coaches in there that I don't particularly like, just to show I'm not biased. You can guess which two.
The fact of the matter is, if we rewind one week ago today, what was the topic of conversation around the Gators? They "struggled" with Tennessee. Or that Tennessee gave Florida a good close game. Florida won that game by 10 points and anyone who watched it would tell you that it was not nearly that close. The problem is, most Heisman and BCS voters and pollsters don't watch the games, they look at the final score and the final stats and make a judgement from there.
Let's hypothetically say Florida pulled Tebow out after the first quarter (which they led 31-0). John Brantley, the more than capable backup and heir apparent to Tebow's throne, surely could have scored zero points through the third quarter just as Tebow and the offense had. Lest we forget, this is the SEC, and while Kentucky would never be mistaken for a powerhouse, Florida has some WR issues, and Kentucky's kids are on scholarship, too.
Let's say Kentucky puts together one more good offensive drive than they did and scores a TD, and Brantley miscommunicates with Brandon James and throws a pick that Trevard Lindley takes the other way for a TD. Florida grinds it out and wins by a final of 34-24. The next day's headlines would read:
"No. 1 Florida eeks out another one on the road at Kentucky 34-24"
"What's wrong with the Gators?"
"Disinterested Gators sleepwalk through Lexington"
"Cocky Urban Meyer plays backups, still wins by 10 on road"
The first paragraph to read: Florida lets another unranked opponent hang around, yadda-yadda-yadda...
In the BCS era, style points matter. Plain and simple. Especially with the crap-ola schedule Florida has this year. Where they could normally not have to worry about style because just beating some of the teams on their schedule was enough (the 2006 team's schedule was evidence of this).
The Heisman race keeps score in the same manner. Tebow was sick (though we'll never know how sick) and had his best rushing performance that I can remember. He moved the offense down the field and was again, probably the best offensive weapon on the field. Had we pulled him after the first quarter or halftime, voters would just see numbers, not the total affect he had on the team that day.
Before you start criticizing Meyer or Tebow for "trying" to win a Heisman, on that same day Colt McCoy, up 47-7 in the 3rd quarter, was a.) Still playing, and b.) throwing into the end zone from the UTEP four-yard line. The facts are non disputable. This is just what teams do nowadays.
So yes, Tebow was playing in a 23-point game midway through the third quarter. I'm not sure what Urban Meyer is guilty of for that. He's trying to win and playing the game within his game plan. For the record, Meyer has alot of respect for Kentucky coach Rich Brooks and he is certainly not on his "run it up" list.
Football is just as much a mental game and physical game. At what point, and what score, and how much time remaining should a coach pull their starters? Should they pull all the starters or just the QB? Is it 21 points? Really? Cause I've never seen anyone pull their starters after a three touchdown lead. I'm confused and I don't know the rules for when to throw up the white flag and stop playing my best players.
Here's an idea... Florida could take the opening kickoff and score, then put all their backups in until their opponent ties the score, then put the starters back in until they get a lead, then put the subs back in.
Maybe, the Gators could just use Tebow like Mariano Rivera and only let him play in the fourth quarter. Would that be OK?
Tebow was hurt in the normal course of a normal game; no more, no less.
While he was supposedly under the weather (respiratory illness or flu), none of us know how sick he may have been; but from watching him play, he looked better than Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead did on Thursday, and he was perfectly healthy.
I know those of us who know and appreciate Tim Tebow hated to see him laying on the turf in the manner that he was, but let's make sure we lay the blame where it belongs and not with the head coach doing what 99.4% of all coaches would do in that situation: let a player play.
Now, can someone please check Colt McCoy's apartment for Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, and Javid Best voodoo dolls?!