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Rest Tim Tebow: Florida can lose to LSU and still play for the national title

GAINESVILLE -- I thought about writing a blog post today about who's to blame for Tim Tebow's concussion. It's a hot subject and everyone else seems to be doing it. Then again, in the three seasons I've covered college football, I've learned to swim against the current and focus my efforts elsewhere when everyone else is writing the same thing.

There's no need to point fingers -- just my opinion. Tebow returned to UF in part to win another Heisman Trophy and that's why he was still in the game against Kentucky. As for the play when Tebow suffered his concussion, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio bravely took the blame on Monday when he told reporters that he should have called a different play. But it's not really Addazio's fault.  In the end, a freak accident is to blame.

A freak accident -- Tebow's head colliding with Marcus Gilbert's knee (I've heard that Gilbert is taking this whole thing pretty badly, so Florida's coaches probably need to counsel this guy and let him know that it's not his fault.) -- is the subject of this blog post. Due to the circumstances of Tebow's injury and based upon the current landscape of college football, it's my opinion that UF can lose to LSU without Tebow and still play for the national title.

If you focus on the outcome of the LSU game from a simple risk-reward scenario, there is far more that UF can lose than it can gain by playing Tebow against the Tigers. If Florida rushes Tebow back from his concussion and he suffers another concussion against LSU, then everyone from UF coach Urban Meyer, to athletic director Jeremy Foley, to the team doctor, to the university president, will be in big-time trouble.

It's simply not worth the risk of playing Tebow against LSU when you take into account the first month of the college football season. At the beginning of the season, we all thought that UF vs. LSU would be the pivotal game of the season for both teams. Well, that's not the case anymore. This is not a must win game for Florida.

With so much upheaval in the Top 10 during the first four weeks of the season -- Penn State, Oklahoma, California, Miami, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, USC and Oklahoma State all have one loss already -- Florida can lose to LSU and still play for the national title. Florida can still run the table in the SEC East, defeat either Alabama, LSU or Ole Miss in the SEC championship game and receive a bid to the title game.

Does anyone actually think that a one-loss Florida team (whose only loss came without Tebow) would be left out of the national title game? No. Absolutely not. Ain't gonna happen! No voter in the coaches poll or the Harris poll will deny a one-loss Florida team a berth to the national title game if the Gators' only loss was at LSU ... at night ... without Tebow ... and with a back-up quarterback making his first career start.

Let's take a look around the country. Is an undefeated Boise State team going to play for a national title over a one-loss Florida team? No. Is an undefeated Cincinnati team going to play for a national title over a one-loss Florida team? No. What about a one-loss Virginia Tech team. No, the Hokies lost to Alabama. What about a one-loss Ohio State team? No. A one-loss Florida team will be ranked ahead of a one-loss Ohio State by the end of the season. Same goes for Penn State, USC, Oregon, Cal -- a one-loss Florida team will be ranked ahead of all these pretenders.

Does anyone really think South Florida and Iowa are going to finish the season undefeated? No. Will a one-loss UF team be ranked ahead of an undefeated TCU team? Yes. Is Michigan going undefeated? No. And even if the Wolverines run the table, I'd rank a one-loss Florida team ahead of Michigan. Notre Dame? Please.

If Florida loses to LSU without Tebow and then runs the table, UF will get the sympathy vote and will be ranked ahead of all other one-loss teams and non-BCS undefeated also-rans.

Rest Tebow against LSU. It's not a must-win game and the risky consequences of playing Tebow (no matter how small and unlikely and no matter how asymptomatic Tebow is by next week) far outweigh the consequences of losing at LSU. 

And, personally, I still think UF can defeat LSU with John Brantley under center.





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