Thankfully, Tim Tebow’s run at the Heisman ended against a wall that is the Alabama defense in which the overhyped, presumed national champion Florida Gators were exposed.
However, my argument isn’t that he shouldn’t win the Heisman. My argument is that he never belonged among the finalists in the first place. It’s a travesty that he’s still being mentioned in the same breath as the 2009 Heisman trophy.
So why shouldn’t he win it?
LET’S TALK CAREER.
Tebow’s career stats are impressive: SEC records for rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns, ridiculously high passer rating, and three national titles.
That’s fine and dandy, but most of those numbers are meaningless this year. It’s painfully obvious why there is a clamor for Tebow to win. He is widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest college football players of all time. Therefore, it seems obvious that the easiest way to demonstrate this achievement would be to be only the second player to win two Heisman trophies. However, while he (sort of) had a case last year, this isn’t it. The Heisman trophy is not a Lifetime Achievement Award, and shouldn’t be handed out because an individual should have won one earlier (e.g., Denzel Washington’s Oscar for Training Day) or because that person deserves something for all their accomplishments (to stick with the Oscar motif, let’s go with Gregory Peck and Al Pacino). Tebow’s past is irrelevant, so let’s not talk about all that he’s meant to college football.
LET’S TALK LEADERSHIP.
This “intangible” is so incredibly stupid that I can’t believe commentators even mention it, let alone dwell on it. Spoiler alert: Practically every veteran quarterback in college football has strong leadership qualities. Do you think McCoy or Bradford or Kellen Moore or Jake Locker or Darryl Clark or practically any other quarterback at a D-1 school doesn’t lead his team and desperately want to win? Suggesting that Tebow is somehow a “better” leader just because he’s a more visible leader doesn’t make him superior to other quarterbacks, especially not at any significant level that would place him above other players.
His intangibles and his past are meaningless, so only one thing matters: His performance.
LET’S TALK NUMBERS.
When Case Keenum puts up utterly ungodly numbers, he’s dismissed as a “system quarterback.” The same was true last year of Graham Harrell, Texas Tech’s quarterback, and has been an clear concern ever since Andre Ware (system quarterback and horrible announcer extraordinaire) won the Heisman in 1989. And, to an extent, I agree with this; most quarterbacks would put up ridonkulous stats if they were making 50-60 throws per game. That said, these numbers cannot be ignored, especially considering that it was ridiculous numbers that got Tebow the Heisman his sophomore year.
Here’s the thing: Running the spread offense Tebow still put up average numbers, only throwing for over two hundred yards in six games and accounting for less than two hundred yards in three games. Given that the spread allows quarterbacks to jack up their numbers through short passes and bubble screens in lieu of a dominant running game, this is disturbing. Looking at his stats, which should be assisted by the offense that the Gators run, he is still embarrassingly average.
Still, the Heisman is all about the big games. What about those “tough” games against opponents that were good (or at least assumed to be at the time)? Tebow did not have his best games. He threw for 164 yards against “rival” Georgia (rushing for 85 more). The game against Tennessee and Lane Kiffin, who had been talking trash to Florida all summer? Tebow threw for 114 yards and rushed for 76 (on 24 carries). LSU? Tebow threw for 134 yards and rushed for 38 (on 17 carries). Keep in mind that this year was an awful one for the SEC, with two top-ranked teams and a bunch of mediocre pretenders. It’s like the PAC-10 normally looks, and Tebow still failed to dominate.
His “statement game” that was solidifying his Heisman candidacy was a game against Florida State. Florida State. I’m serious.
This might have been one hell of an accomplishment a decade ago, but right now…not so much. When the Gators played Florida State, the Seminoles were ranked “92nd or worse in every key defensive category.” That would put them in-between Hawaii and Colorado State. Good work, Tim– definitely something to brag about. But people still do, pointing to the fact that he has one of the highest passing ratings in college football.
Tim Tebow is one of the most accurate passers in college football history, something that is often touted when talking about his skills. The worst part is that his passing stats (which (again) are not that good) are grossly inflated because of the offense that he runs. Therein lies the double standard – quarterbacks that put up ridiculous numbers in other systems are attacked, but Florida’s system is ignored. Again, it’s not the same as Houston or Texas Tech, but it’s a system nonetheless. He’s running the spread, and that affects his numbers significantly.
Currently, Tim Tebow sits at #8 with a rating of 155.6. And, again, his stats are not that good. Why? Because of a little thing called YAC, which announcers trip one another while trying to be the first to say that it stands for “Yards After Catch.” Suddenly all those bubble screens, swing passes, and shovel passes look less impressive because the receiver is doing all the work.
Unfortunately, YAC stats do not exist for college football. You’d have to find some whackjob who would be willing to jot down the length of the pass for every throw the quarterback makes.
Guess what. You found that whackjob. I did just that for yesterday’s wonderful SEC Championship game.
Now, obviously, this was against Alabama’s wonderful defense, and that definitely affects Tebow’s numbers. But this isn’t about his passing yardage total; I’m only trying to demonstrate the types of passes Tebow makes. Also, obviously, this is one game and cannot be generalized to the entire season. I’m hoping only to draw attention to the kind of offense being run.
I should also mention that a few of these might be off by a yard or two – I used Tivo whenever possible but, at the end of the day, I’m a college football junkie and I was watching the game.
Of Tim Tebow’s 20 completions, 14 (!) of those throws were for four yards or less, and nine of those 14 passes were throws for two yards or less. The receiver takes care of the rest, with roughly 85 yards off of those 14 catches (about six yards a catch). Tebow had one completion where the pass itself was 30 yards; the other five completions were all throws that were 10 yards or less (including the 10-yard throw to Hernandez that resulted in a 59 yard gain to set up Tebow’s interception).
Keep in mind that Alabama’s defense was stifling and the players were clearly prepared for swing passes and shovel passes, and so you have to assume that Florida altered its game plan away from the short throws to try to stretch the field. This lone game is far from conclusive, but it definitely supports a suspicion that Florida’s system is not that far removed from Mike Leach’s offense.
So, no, Tebow’s numbers do not get him into the Heisman discussion. Nor does anything else. Send Mark Ingram, especially after his monster SEC Championship game. Send Toby Gerhart, who has had an unbelievable year (over 1700 yards and he still averaged at least 4.4 yards a carry in each of Stanford’s losses). Send anyone. Just make sure they deserve it.