After spending the last several weeks trying to get business and life back to normal after Hurricane Gustav, I figured that an important, albeit overlooked, problem plaguing this nation was as good a reason as any to return to the pack.
No, I’m not talking about the U.S. economy. In fact, many of you will be surprised at how much better the economic news will get after the presidential election. But enough about politics.
The issue I would like to shed light on today is a condition known as TCF (Temporary Cranial Flatulence). The condition is also known, in laymen’s terms, as “brain farts.”
TCF has plagued locker rooms and postgame interviews for years, but we are just now beginning to learn the depth of its impact.
When asked about how his squad will try to stop Tim Tebow this Saturday night, LSU defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois said, "If we get a good shot on [Tebow], we're going to try our best to take him out of the game. ... With his size and his heart, it's hard to get a clean shot.”
Well, let’s just start with the obvious. No matter what, whether you’re joking or not, whether you are trying to get under the skin of your opponent or not, you never ever make a remark that can be remotely interpreted as willfully and purposely attempting to injure another player. Ever.
After all, this isn't Auburn.
Jean-Francois is the latest victim claimed by TCF, and it put his entire team in a bad light on a national stage. Smack talk is fine, and it should be encouraged as it raises the level of intensity going into a game. But Ricky’s comments crossed the line, thanks to TCF.
Now, Jean-Francois has since clarified his comments by utilizing the standard retraction line of athlete TCF sufferers: “We respect him as a player and competitor...blah, blah, blah." Well done.
But here’s the thing: Even though you shouldn’t say things like this about any athlete, why say it about Tim Tebow?
Look, as much as anyone over the last three years, I have dug deep in trying to find a reason to hate this kid. I can’t. He’s a good player, but more than that, he’s a great person.
There have been times when I think the sports media has over-hyped him, but that’s another story. The bottom line is that he was raised right, he is respectful, and he is a class act.
Last year, in the week leading up to the LSU game, someone posted Tebow’s cell phone number on the internet, sparking a barrage of phone calls and voice mails from the LSU die-hards. When Tebow scored a touchdown right in front of the student section, he playfully put his thumb and pinky up to his ear signifying a phone as if to say, “Call me.”
After hearing about the context of some of the messages left for Tebow that week, I thought that was a good-natured way of handling it. Unfortunately for Tim Tebow and his Gators, though, it wasn’t enough to get the win.
Which now brings me to this weekend’s matchup between LSU and Florida. Being in different divisions, this game was initially seen as part one of a possible two-part series between the teams—one in Gainesville and one in Atlanta.
Now that Florida has an unexpected conference loss at the hands of Ole Miss, this is a must-win situation for the Gators.
But even with the Heisman Trophy winner under center and a home crowd to cheer them on, this will be an uphill battle for Florida.
Let’s start with the crowd in “The Swamp.” Sure, it gets loud in there, and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium can be an intimidating venue for an opposing team. But let’s be honest—when your home field is Tiger Stadium, your team tends to be virtually immune from environmental factors.
Since their own stadium is universally accepted as the loudest college football stadium in America, don’t expect the Tigers to get rattled by the crowd.
Next are the X’s and O’s. As I stated in the preseason, Tim Tebow is not a pocket passer. When Urban Meyer announced that he would seek to keep Tebow in the pocket more rather than running with the ball, I said that was a mistake. We all saw how well that strategy worked against Michigan and Ole Miss.
If Meyer doesn’t let Tebow do what Tebow does best, the Gators will almost always lose on third and short situations.
The Gator defense is young but quick. The LSU offensive line is huge and among the best corps in the nation. They allowed freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee plenty of time to pick Auburn apart in their second half comeback on the plains.
Florida’s defense will have to put pressure on Lee, but more importantly, they will have to stop LSU running back Charles Scott. Scott has gained over 100 rushing yards in every game this season.
LSU’s defense has already (in so many words) stated their intention to go after Tebow, but they have not exactly put up stellar numbers in the secondary. If not addressed, this could be a major problem since they will be facing the top wide receiver in the nation, Percy Harvin. The Tigers will have to double team Harvin while keeping the pressure on Tebow, which will not be an easy task.
Ole Miss was able to beat Florida by keeping their offense on the field and eventually wearing down the Gator defense. I can’t believe I’m suggesting that LSU should adopt a game plan from Ole Miss, but hey...whatever works!
LSU 28, Florida 24