The original name of this guest-post was "Dan Shanoff Is The Tebow," so it was inevitable that I would devote at least some space to Florida's QB — who, after a mere four games, is the rock star of the year in college football. Saturday, Tebow accounted for 426 yards of offense, the hard way: 260 passing (with 2 TDs) and a Florida-record 160 rushing (with another 2 TDs). Heisman buzz is rampant, and fanboy panting is near-universal.
Tim Tebow's exploits are college football fans' new version of the famous improv joke, "The Aristocrats." See how far you can take your own story that ends "And THAT'S how special Tim Tebow is." Here's mine:
A few months ago, my in-laws and their friends ran into Tebow in Gainesville's Outback Steakhouse. He signed a greasy menu for my kid. By the time the menu arrived at my apartment, the grease stain had morphed into the outline of a workable plan to offer universal health-care to every American, including illegals. And THAT's how special Tim Tebow is.
Over the last three weeks, I watched Tebow play twice in person. (Cripes: I even broke down and bought a Tebow jersey.) He is a freak of talents. I have yet to come up with the proper QB analogue. Let me try:
If Matt Leinart fathered a son — with Tommie Frazier — THAT would be Tim Tebow. (Some Florida fans might demand I use "Paul Bunyan" and "Jesus" as the parents, but even by Tebow standards, that seemed excessive. How about "Jack Bauer" and "Jesus?")
What screws up the equation is that, unlike Leinart, Tebow is apparently a spectacular person. He's grounded, outgoing and pleasant and always signs autographs. He gives talks in prisons, then hugs the inmates. He took a nationally televised kiss from his roommate/teammate without worrying about his masculinity. He's enthusiastic, but without the dickishness that made JJ Redick or Joakim Noah (or Matt Leinart) so nationally hateable.
Tebow is super-religious and does a lot of evangelizing, but — as a non-Evangelical — what I appreciate most is that you never get that sense on the football field from him. No ironically sacrilegious "First off, I want to thank God" in interviews about a football game. No palms clasped, looking skyward, immediately after touchdowns; he seems to prefer the Gator Chomp.
If you listen to the rumors (or check out the tribute site Tim Tebow Facts), Tebow cures the sick. Tebow makes ovaries weep. Tebow always picks the perfect NFL Fantasy roster. Tebow should run the Fed. Tebow could fix Iraq. Tebow is who guys want to be and women want to be with. (Hell: Guys, too. What? Oh, like you wouldn't.)
This is what we have been reduced to: This 19-year-old with all of four college starts as more myth than man.
Where are Tebow's flaws? For starters, the ball he throws usually wobbles like an SEC sorority girl after a night with grain and Lik-a-Stik. And he hasn't faced down an 80-yard drive with two minutes left, down five, in Baton Rouge. Then again, Tebow is the real-life Optimus Prime.
A backlash is inevitable, and I'm fascinated to see when it happens. This week? After a loss (or win) at LSU? End of the season? Next year? If/when he returns for his senior season?
I had always seen this season as a warm-up for Tebow. With a year of full-time starting under his belt and a more favorable schedule in 2008, I had pictured him making his Heisman and national-title run next season. But myths won't wait — and neither will hyperbole.
Wait: I heard that on Saturday morning, Tim Tebow winked in the direction of Ann Arbor and saved Michigan's season. And a drop of his sweat rubbed into your back permanently rids you of unwanted hair. And then then there's this, which speaks for itself...
More From This Weekend: Cripes, what the hell happened to Louisville?... Notre Dame still sucks, but at least the "perfection" of 0-8 is still on the table... Will everyone shut up about Nick Saban now?... Is Cincinnati the most underrated team in the country?... Donovan McNabb must have been watching the Texas Tech-Oklahoma State game... Nothing says "midseason" like "Steve Spurrier is yanking his starting QB"... So if Appalachian State beat Michigan and Wofford beat App State, does that mean we can reasonably conclude Wofford is better than Michigan?
So Surreal That It's Worth Its Own Item: So, like many of you, I was sitting there watching Georgia and Alabama in OT. Bama had just kicked a field goal and Georgia was about to take the field. The Alabama crowd is going nuts. Play-by-play guy Mike Patrick says to analyst Todd Blackledge "I have an important question..."
There is a pause. Like many viewers, I have given Patrick my particular attention, waiting for his trenchant query, perfectly suiting an incredibly dramatic college football moment. Then Patrick continues:
"What is Britney doing with her life?"
There is dead silence on the air. Let me continue the scene...
More uncomfortable silence.
Blackledge: "Britney who?"
More uncomfortable silence.
Patrick: "What is she doing with her career?"
More uncomfortable silence.
Now: Uncomfortable laughter.
Blackledge: "Why do we care at this point?"
Good point. More uncomfortable silence.
Blackledge: "Is she here?"
Patrick: "I don't think so."
Blackledge: "Is she a football fan?"
Patrick: "Aw, I'm sure she is."
More awkward silence. Pleasehikepleasehike...
Patrick: "Georgia from the 25..."
And...scene! On that very play, Georgia proceeds to score the game-winning touchdown on that play, blissfully ending any further airtime for Patrick to obsess about Britney. Here's the video.
This Week's Bandwagon: Oh My God. Michigan Is Back. Ohio State and Wisconsin fans can feel free to disagree, but the rest of the country is now filled with one certainty above any other: Is there any doubt now that Michigan is going to win the Big Ten?
After that humiliating 0-2 start — all that talk about firing Lloyd Carr and "Worst Loss Ever" (twice!), it's a no-brainer of a karmic payback. Sure, they'll be 10-2 and get worked over in the Rose Bowl. Sure, saying "Appy" in Ann Arbor will get you dirty looks from UM's octogenarian season-ticket holders. Sure, frosh QB Ryan Mallett makes Byron Leftwich look nimble.
But all of a sudden, who wants to play them? In six weeks, they'll be 8-2 with tons of momentum, playing at Wisconsin, then hosting Ohio State with the Big Ten title on the line. At least we can all still whisper "Appy" and Michigan fans will have to pipe down.
My BlogPoll ballot Top 10:
"Werewolf with a chainsaw for a penis."
Meh. I'm still not buying.
I picked them to lose at Tulsa. My bad.
A little too close for comfort in Oxford.
Defeated mighty "Idle" to stay in Top 5.
6. West Virginia
Coming up: Rematch with South Florida.
7. Ohio State
Last week's dis yields this week's love.
Entire season comes down to...at Oregon?
9. Boston College
Toughest game remaining? Yes: UMass!
Two weeks until Red River Shootout.
Rising: Cincinnati, Missouri
My complete BlogPoll Top 25 ballot this week.
Looking Ahead to Next Week:
First, a quick mea culpa: I totally blew last week's "Upset Special" of Tulsa over Oklahoma. I didn't even get it right if you factor in the 20-plus point spread. You'll notice above that I leap-frogged the Sooners over my Gators as penance. That, and OU deserves it more.
Big East: West Virginia at South Florida. Friday night special! I'm a big believer in revenge as motivation. Last year, USF went up to Morgantown and ruined the Eers' BCS shot. WVU enjoys payback.
Pick: West Virginia
Pac-10: Cal at Oregon. Call it a "Pac-10 Play-In": The winner has the inside track to be to displace USC as the league's top dog. The loser's fans have to stop emailing me complaining about disrespect.
Pick: Oregon (Game of the Week!)
Big Ten: Michigan State at Wisconsin. The Spartans are 4-0, but are they for real? It's not like beating Notre Dame is enlightening. But beating the Badgers in Madison sure would be.
SEC: Auburn at Florida. More revenge! Last year, the Tigers nearly ruined the Gators' championship season. Nearly. But that was Chris Leak and his dainty sensibilities. This is Tim Tebow.
Big 12: Kansas State at Texas. Rematch of an '06 thriller that officially KO'ed UT, then-defending national champs, from relevancy. Like WVU and UF, UT will find satisfaction in vengeance.
ACC: Clemson at Georgia Tech. Exactly the kind of tough mid-season road game at a wobbly opponent that usually blows Clemson's shot at an ACC Championship season.
Pick: Georgia Tech
I-AA vs. I-A: UMass at B.C.. The Eagles should be in your Top 10 by now. UMass is just the kind of I-AA (sorry: "F.C.S.") powerhouse that can't NOT shock its in-state big brother.
Pick: UMass (Upset Special!)
The Bandwagoneer at Home:
Yom Kippur on a Saturday puts a cramp on the Jewish college football viewer's style, but self-denial was a small price to pay for repentance. (Was it sacrilegious to DVR games unavailable to me during the day's observance, only to watch them in the evening?)
As always, send any comments, criticisms or questions to danshanoff-at-gmail-dot-com.