Question: When you look at the picture, who do you think is hugging who? Is Tim Tebow hugging Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators, or is Urban Meyer hugging Tim Tebow for what he did for the Florida Gators?
That's a good question.
Before Tim Tebow, UF was one, if not the most successful college football team in the SEC. A year before Tebow's arrival, coach Urban Meyer had inherited a team that was struggling under the leadership of Ron Zook. In Meyer's first season as the Gators' head coach, the team went 9-3 and 5-3 in the SEC defeating Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
Then in 2006, Tebow's freshman season as a backup to QB Chris Leak, the Gators not only won the SEC Championship, but the BCS National Championship by upsetting Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. Tebow did not start, but accounted for two TDs—one passing and one rushing.
During Tebow's time at Florida, the Gators won two national championships, two SEC championships, and went 48-6 in four years.
Then there is Tebow's inadvertent financial contribution during his time at Florida. Surely millions of dollars have been generated from jersey and ticket sales, and media coverage due to Tebow's rock-star image.
Now let's look at the other side of the coin.
When Tebow was finishing his football career at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Fla., he was looking at Florida or Alabama as his collegiate choices. Few doubted that he would choose Florida since he grew up a Gator fan and his parents graduated from there.
Just ask then-coach Mike Shula when he visited the Tebow residence on a recruiting trip. Within seconds he knew his chances were slim at best of convincing Tebow to attend the University of Alabama when he saw all the Gator paraphernalia in the Tebow house.
But, what if Tebow did choose to go to Alabama, or some other school? Would he have had the same success at another school?
Upon his arrival to Florida, the Gator coaching staff created packages for Tebow to run before he even started at QB. Then-QB Chris Leak would be pulled for a series while Tebow would come in and run off tackle or straight up the middle. Everyone knew what was coming, but few could stop him.
When Tebow did start, it was quite apparent that Coach Meyer had his QB. Chris Leak, a very capable QB, was Ron Zook's QB, and was a traditional pocket QB not suited to run a spread offense. Meyer had to make modifications to his offense to leverage Leak's strengths.
Upon Tebow's first start, the Gator offense clicked on all cylinders. Sure, there were games that the offense sputtered from time to time, but again Tebow's presence looked picture perfect. It was if Meyer finally had all the pieces of the puzzle in place, and Tebow was his king.
In my humble opinion, Florida owes Tebow a big thank you. Not only did Tebow bring millions of dollars to the University and lead the football team to multiple wins and championships, but he also made Meyer's spread offense look like a thing of beauty.
The real test for Meyer will be making his offense go with John Brantley at the helm. Brantley, like Leak, is more a traditional pocket passer whose strength is in his arm and not his legs. Will the Gator offense click with Brantley breaking the huddle?
Let's hope so. Unless Tebow returns as a coach for the team, he's gone from the team forever.
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