GAINESVILLE -- By Tim Tebow standards -- pretty much the highest standards known to man and the American Dream -- the Florida Gators quarterback hasn't played his best football in the past two games.
Tebow lost two fumbles against Arkansas and tossed two interceptions against Mississippi State. Both interceptions were returned for touchdowns. On Monday, Tebow was questioned by reporters about his "frustration level" and the Gators' struggles in the red zone. Now, it seems kind of silly to me that reporters are viewing Florida's undefeated season as anything but a smashing success. But that's a topic for another blog post. The topic of this blog post: Will Tim Tebow win the Heisman Trophy? Gator Clause's prediction: Yes. Does Tebow deserve to win the Heisman? Gator Clause answer: Yes.
Lost in all the hoopla of the Gators' red-zone struggles and Tebow's "frustration" is the fact that Tebow has done some pretty amazing things in the last two games. Against Arkansas, he led the first game-winning drive of his career with less than five minutes remaining in a game. Against Mississippi State, Tebow rushed for a beautiful 26-yard touchdown run on what appeared to be a broken play.
And, by the way, Tebow's touchdown run against Mississippi State tied him with former Georgia running back Herschel Walker for the Southeastern Conference's all-time rushing touchdowns record (49). The record might fall on Saturday in Jacksonville against, who else, the Georgia Bulldogs. Now, if those two weeks are the worst two weeks in the career of Tim Tebow, then I guess it's only fair for Gator Clause to draw upon our inner Chris Rainey and say, "And I'm like, damn, it's good to be Tim Tebow!"
Now, it seems rather obvious to Gator Clause that a QUARTERBACK who breaks the career rushing touchdowns record of HERSCHEL WALKER (pretty much the best running back in the history of the SEC and maybe college football) should be considered a lock to win the Heisman Trophy. My friend and colleague Israel Gutierrez wrote a column last week that basically argued that Tebow does not deserve the Heisman Trophy. My argument, Tebow deserves the Heisman more this year than in 2007 and 2008.
First, let's remind ourselves what the Heisman Trophy represents. It's the yearly award for the best player in college football. OK, who is the best player in college football this season? Tim Tebow. How do we know this? Well, for starters, Tebow is the best player on the best team in the country. Seriously, who's better? Florida is the defending national champions and has won 17 games in a row, a national best. What about the sandlot test? If you're picking first in a sandlot football game, who are you picking? Yep, Tebow.
What else? Well, Florida's Thundercat Offense is designed around Tim Tebow. The Gators are ranked No.6 nationally in rushing offense this week and No.1 in the SEC. Take a guess who the leading rusher is of the SEC's best rushing offense? That's right, Tim Tebow, a QUARTERBACK. Tebow is averaging 66.6 yards per game and has scored a team-high six rushing touchdowns. Alabama running back Mark Ingram, considered the best running back in the SEC this season, has rushed for eight touchdowns, or only two more than Tebow, who is a QUARTERBACK.
Oh, by the way, Tebow, despite throwing two interceptions against Mississippi State on Saturday, is still the SEC's top-rated passer (151.3 passing efficiency). As Gator Clause likes to put it, Tebow is better than your team's best player. Or, as Tebow likes to put it, he's doing what he's asked, "OK."
In 2007 and 2008 Tebow had receivers Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy to help make plays and accumulate stats. Harvin and Murphy are both starting in the NFL this season. That means Tebow is leading an offense that is ranked No.1 in the SEC with far less. A tight end is the Gators' leading receiver! Florida is ranked No.1 in the SEC in total offense (457.0 ypg) and scoring offense (35.3 ppg) and a tight end is the Gators' leading receiver! How is this possible!?! You guessed it, Tim Tebow.
Because of Tebow, Florida is ranked No.1 in the SEC in third-down conversions (46 percent), No.1 in the SEC in first downs (167) and No.1 in the BCS, AP poll, coaches' poll and Harris Interactive poll. Florida is one complete game away from Tebow blowing this Heisman race wide open. Enter Georgia, which is ranked 10th in the SEC in total defense, 11th in passing defense and fifth in rushing defense.
If Florida defeats Georgia on Saturday and South Carolina loses to Tennessee, then Florida will clinch the SEC East in the NINTH WEEK of the season. And the winner of the 2009 Heisman Trophy goes to ... University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
Now, it won't be that easy -- Florida needs to defeat Alabama in the SEC championship game to ensure that Tebow wins the Heisman -- but consider what teams remain on the Gators' schedule after the Georgia game: Vanderbilt (nothing else to say), South Carolina (Tebow's motivation: Steve Spurrier didn't vote for Tim Tebow as the SEC's preseason all-conference quarterback.), Florida International (nothing else to say, other than Miami won't play FIU for who knows why) and Florida State (probably the worst defense in the ACC).
Reporters like to compare Tebow's stats to 2008 and 2007. That's fair but if that's your logic in arguing Tebow doesn't deserve the Heisman then it also seems fair to use that same logic in arguing that Tebow does deserve the Heisman. With six games remaining in his collegiate career, Tebow is already responsible for the most touchdowns in the history of the SEC and is already tied for the SEC career rushing touchdowns record. He has won two national championships and is the favorite to win a third.
Somebody, please tell me who is more deserving of the Heisman Trophy?