Tim Tebow Wins The Heisman
Florida QB Tim Tebow
Florida QB Tim Tebow
Posted Dec 8, 2007

Tim Tebow becomes the first sophomore to win the Heisman after one of the great statistical seasons in college football history. Is this the start of a string of big number years from spread quarterbacks, or was this a season that'll stand the test of time?

By Pete Fiutak  

It's not exactly Hillary or Obama getting into the White House, but a barrier has been broken with an underclassman finally winning the Heisman Trophy.

Long one of the more bizarre biases in sports, freshmen and sophomores hadn't needed to apply for the big prize, despite a few coming close in recent years, and now Tebow has broken few the barrier despite being on a three-loss team that didn't even play for its conference championship.

Heisman Trophy Tally
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Tim Tebow 462 229 113 1957
McFadden 291 355 120 1703
C. Brennan 54 114 242 632
C. Daniel 25 84 182 425
D. Dixon 17 31 65 178
Pat White 16 28 46 150

Many will speculate that Tebow was able to get the big prize only on stats in a numbers filled Heisman race, and many others will speculate that he simply rose to the top after everyone else withered away. Oregon's Dennis Dixon, who all but had the award won, bowed out late in the year with a knee injury. Missouri's Chase Daniel, Kansas' Todd Reesing, and West Virginia's Pat White were all deep in the hunt well into November, and all excused themselves after crushing late losses. Darren McFadden played on an Arkansas team that wasn't anywhere near the SEC West title, Hawaii's Colt Brennan didn't play a great schedule, and the two other viable candidates, or should've been viable candidates, UCF RB Kevin Smith and Tulane RB Matt Forte, were unknowns throughout the year. Even so, that Tebow was simply the only real choice out of a flawed lot couldn't be further from the truth.

In McFadden, the Heisman race had one of the all-time great SEC runners who did everything possible to carry his team and change up the season with jaw-dropping showstoppers against South Carolina and LSU. In Daniel, Reesing and White, there were three tremendous leaders and playmakers who took their teams to the brink of playing for the national title. And then there were the non-BCSers, who, other than Brennan, came up with historic seasons that no one paid attention to.

There was Forte, who bulled his way to a 2,000-yard season. There was Smith, who ran for 2,448 yards, 723 more than McFadden, with 29 touchdowns 14 more than McFadden, and carried his team to a Conference USA title, but couldn't even become a finalist. And then there was Brennan, who in hindsight should've won the 2006 Heisman if the voting was done after the bowl games, with another monstrous statistical season with two of the greatest big-game (at least for Hawaii getting to the BCS) performances to beat Boise State and Washington to get his team to the Sugar Bowl. Tebow had one of the great seasons in the history of college football in a season of some of the greatest statistical seasons in the history of college football, and he rose above them all.

But Tebow is more than just numbers, carrying a rebuilding Gator team gutted by defections to the NFL on defense, and lacking enough playmakers on offense. Top receiver Andre Caldwell was hurt for a stretch, but Tebow remained efficient and effective throwing the ball. Do-it-all playmaker Percy Harvin was one of the nation's most dynamic weapons, but he wasn't a 25 touch option. Tebow had to shoulder the load alone for long stretches, even though that shoulder was injured, and he still produced despite being the focus of everyone's defensive gameplan and the target of opposing fans, including some unfortunate incidents involving threatening test messages and voice mails before the LSU game.

But still, the college football world seemed reluctant to embrace the idea of Tebow as a possible college football legend, the status automatically bestowed upon a Heisman winner, partly because the stats weren't given the proper credit, and partly because he wasn't flashy like McFadden.

Consistency is rarely rewarded, but in this case, it was, as Tebow ran and threw for a score in every game finishing with 29 touchdown passes and 22 touchdowns, an SEC record, becoming the first player in college football history to run and throw for 20 scores.

"But most of his touchdowns were close to the goal line," the naysayers said.

Yeah, but who got the offense there in the first place? Quick, name Florida's top rushing running back this year. No, Harvin sort of doesn't count. It was Kestahn Moore, who's workload diminished over the course of the season.

Remember, Tebow set an SEC rushing touchdown record. Think about the greatest names in the history of the great conference, and they couldn't do what Tebow did, even though most were fed the ball more of their share of times every time they were around the goal line. Herschel Walker, Emmitt Smith, Shaun Alexander, Bo Jackson, Rudi Johnson, Carnell Williams, Garrison Hearst, Jamal Lewis, and on and on and on. None of them were able to do it. And no, it's not like Tebow got a slew of meaningless late game garbage scores to pile on the statistics. Sure, there were a couple, but for the most part, the scores were clean; they helped put games away.

Oh yeah, and Tebow could also throw the ball.

Second in the nation in passing efficiency, and first for a little while, Tebow threw for 3,132 yards and 29 scores with six interceptions, and he never threw more than one interception in a game. He did all this with a target and a bull's-eye on his back each and every week. He is considered the chosen one. He's Superman. He was a key cog on a national champion, and then the offense became his. All his.

Even after all the numbers, and considering they came in the SEC when the defending national champions got the best shot from everyone, he still had more than his share of skeptics.

Sure, he didn't lead Florida to a title of any kind this with three losses on the résumé including key games against LSU and Georgia, but it wasn't like he was awful in those two. It wasn't his fault the run defense went bye-bye against LSU and the entire D got ripped up by Georgia.

Now it'll be interesting to see, as the years go on, if the statistics hold up, or if they were the beginning of the dawn of the super-spread quarterback. Former Utah star Alex Smith showed a bit how amazing a talented all-around quarterback could be in the Urban Meyer attack, and then Tebow took things to another level. Considered to be the perfect player to fit Meyer system well before he ever signed on at Florida, this has been the perfect marriage of the right player with the right coach at the right time.

Now high schools have been able to use the spread offense for a few years and can create the type of do-it-all-player like Tebow who can put up the mega-numbers. So while this might have been a watershed moment for the Heisman with a sophomore winning, it could also be a time looked back on 15 years from now like the college football world views the Andre Ware era, when the run-n-shoot passer won the 1989 Heisman thanks to gaudy numbers created in a system. Will we see a whole slew of Tim Tebows over the next several years, or is Tebow really an all-timer of a star who'd shine no matter what offense he'd be put in?

For now, Florida's third Heisman winner (Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel being the other two) is more than worthy based on what he did this season, no matter what happens in the future. He had the best season of any player in college football from start to finish, and he was properly rewarded.



Related Stories
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 -by FightinGators.com  Dec 8, 2007
VETTEL: There was no Doubt
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HEISMAN: Who will it be?
 -by FightinGators.com  Dec 8, 2007

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