The college football season is history and the Florida Gators are, very deservedly, the number one team in the land. Those who want a playoff system will inject their angst into the discussion, making for a fun off-season, but the Gators won out and proved their mettle last Thursday evening in the Fed-Ex BCS Championship Game in Miami.
What a game it was. Tim Tebow was not his best but he proved again that he simply takes over a game and makes things happen. He clearly has to be one of the greatest athletes to ever play the game. He just does what it takes to make his team win. There are better passers, and one was on the other side of the field last Thursday, but there is no better quarterback, no better team leader who makes his team excel. And the game was won, as it usually is won, on defense. Florida stopped the high-powered OU offense in its tracks. A blocked field goal attempt, a goal line stand, two interceptions, etc. The Gators played well on both sides of the ball. Two offensive units, the best in the country, played great games, with a few too many mistakes and penalties. But the Gators won on defense, even with Tebow's heroics.
What does it mean for the real fan? It means Urban Meyer is a great coach, the state of Florida has the best talent in the land, the SEC is still the best conference from top to bottom, and football is alive and well at the major college level. It also means, if Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow come back next year (which I think they will), the Gators are odds on to win again. As a Crimson Tide fan I can hope but we are not ready yet for these Gators. In two years maybe but not next year. (I can "pray" Tim Tebow goes pro I guess!)
In my top ten teams I would rank them this way:
10. Penn State
Let the debate begin. Spring practice nears and fall will be here soon enough. But baseball is next. I am already booked for a week of Spring Training in Sunny Florida. I can't wait. Congratulations Gators! Two championships in three years. And LSU won two more in the last five, leaving USC with one. Again, who can seriously doubt that the SEC rocks?
By the way, what was the Oklahoma corner-back thinking when he said that Tim Tebow would only be the fourth best quarterback in the league if he played in the Big 12? Even if he was right it was a dumb statement almost bound to backfire. But Tim Tebow proved to be better than Sam Bradford, who the voters already said was the best. And why is the Heisman Trophy winner almost always a dud in the biggest game? More to discuss in the off-season. What a year 2008 was in college football. I love this game. I can't wait to see how Alabama fares in the next two or three years of the Saban era.
One last word. Tim Tebow came within a heartbeat of going to Alabama. He loved Coach Mike Shula, the coach at Bama that time. They connected deeply on a personal basis as two Christian men.
What if he had gone to Alabama three years ago? Likely, Shula would still have his job and Alabama would have been a very different team without Nick Saban. Recruiting is still huge in this sport. For a great read on this get Bruce Feldman's (ESPN college writer) book, Meat Market, and you will understand what really goes on behind the scenes.