Urban Legends: The Tim Tebow & Urban Myer Story

December 26, 2009 at 9:44 pm (Sports) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Tim Tebow & Urban Meyer are a dynamic duo

Tim Tebow. Urban Meyer.

There is no lukewarm reaction to the mere utterance of those two names.

It is as though they are synonymous with each other.

From Tebow’s brave declaration and delivery of excellence after Florida’s devastating one-point-loss to an unranked Ole Miss in 2008, to Meyer’s verbal spar with first-year Tennessee HC Lane Kiffin, Florida’s duo has forever entered America’s water cooler folklore. And inevitably—they have become one of the most revered college tandem of all time.

But within the fable lies the truth of the men, their program, and their legacies.

The Men

On September 26th in the Swamp, the world saw “Superman” taking off his cape. The combination of Kentucky’s Taylor Wyndham’s brute force sack, Florida’s Marcus Gilbert’s leg, and the impact of the ground led to a pinball effect of hits that caused Tebow’s concussion. And as Tebow was transported to the hospital, Florida HC Urban Meyer and the rest of Gator Nation was left wondering what would become of their beloved hero.

Tebow’s concussion came around the same time a dementia study of NFL players were released for public consumption. The study revealed that memory-related diseases were diagnosed in former players at 19 times the rate for men between the ages of 30 and 49. Though the study was NFL related, its results have a huge ripple effect on the lower levels of football including college, high school, and youth leagues, because of the amateurism at these levels.

In a way, Tebow’s concussion has reopened the never healing sore in the side of America’s passion. Now, symptoms (vomiting, dizziness, headaches, etc.), testing (ImPACT), and prevention (football equipments and NCAA football rules) of concussions will be more closely scrutinized. And each concussion that happens from this point forth will be monitored by teams, programs, and researchers alike, which may give the NCAA its own sample pool to determine the severity of memory loss in its student-athletes.

A short time later, after a devastating loss to then (2) ranked Alabama, HC Urban Meyer was rushed to the hospital. Early reports cited dehydration.

But deeper insight into recent events unearths the final straw that may have broken the camel’s back.

Meyer entered the season facing the rising challenge of the Crimson Tide’s HC Nick Saban and the Volunteers’ HC Lane Kiffin, who both loosened Meyer’s grip on recruiting in SEC country. Meyer faced the pressure of having to repeat as SEC champion and National champion for the third time in four years. And Meyer had to deal with nationally publicized on and off the field issues from Brandon Spikes’ eye-poking incident to Carlos Dunlaps’ DUI arrest.

For the first time in his tenure, winning was beginning to cost Meyer his status and more importantly, his health.

The Athlete

Consider the following: Tebow had led the Gators to a 14 game winning streak (late last season and far into this season) which included a National Championship run and a number one ranking. He was overcoming the flu as he scored two rushing touchdowns against Kentucky, putting him second overall (48) for most rushing TDs in the SEC (49, Herschel Walker). Later on he surpassed Walker by compiling 51 rushing TDs. And he continued his bid for a second Heisman Trophy, trying to become the second player ever to accomplish such a feat. Ohio State’s Hall of Fame running back Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975 was the first.

However, he came up short in the Heisman voting to Alabama’s RB Mark Ingram who lit up voters’ eyes in their only meeting of the season (the SEC title game).

Tim Tebow is more than a quarterback

But there is more to Tebow than the no. 15 jersey that he dawns every game day at Florida. In fact, his eyes (or just a little bit underneath) reveal what makes Tebow tick. On his eye strips are passages of faith. And since his youth, Tebow has restored the nation’s faith in sports role models, while overcoming many challenges along the way.

He abstains from alcohol, sex, and bad football decisions, while doing missions. Rarely does the sporting world produce premiere figures that stand just as grand in the social arena as they do in their own arena. The likes of Muhammad Ali, Roberto Clemente, Jim Brown, Jackie Robinson, etc. appear to be unreachable ideals in today’s onslaught of scandals, endorsements, contracts, and public relations.

The Coach

An exhausted Meyer is resigning

Meyer has the highest winning percentage among FBS football coaches in the past five years (95-18, .841). He has won two BCS National Championships with two different quarterbacks at the helm. He has revitalized a Florida program that was in no man’s land since losing Old Ball Coach Steve Spurrier to the NFL and hiring now Illinois HC Ron Zook. And who can forget the spread-option-offense that he implemented in the SEC that has mirrored Spurrier’s fun and gun offense of the past.

Yet Meyer’s love for the game and the success that came with it became his undoing.

“I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program,” Meyer said via his press release. “I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to reevaluate my priorities of faith and family.

Meyer’s work ethic is fabled throughout college football. A man who works from sun up to sun down, seeing any break in the day as time away from finding a recruit or spotting a weakness in an upcoming opponent.

According to ESPN, even his beloved quarterback felt he had too much of an obsession with his profession.

“That’s something we talk about a lot. You’ve got to take care of yourself. Although we’re both very passionate, you can’t always let it all feel like everything is on your chest,” said Tebow last week about his head coach.

The Legacies

Tebow may be the first “Wildcat” quarterback to be selected in the first round of NFL Draft (post Michael Vick). This recently surging formation in the NFL has changed the way some of the league’s personnel are looking at Tebow. He is not the prototypical drop-back-passer with an extremely accurate arm, but he is a multi talented weapon with abilities to break open a game. In the same mold but lacking the quickness and elusiveness of former Syracuse standout Donovan McNabb, Tebow has found ways to break records and win games.

On the contrary, Meyer has the look and coaching skills to match, both of which are the reason why he has notched three BCS Bowl wins under his belt (Utah 2004, Florida 2006 and 2008). That success earned him the honors of Sporting News and Sports Illustrated “Coach of the Decade.” But he lacks the health to compete with the all time winning records set by legendary coaches like Joe Paterno (Penn State) and Bobby Bowden (Florida State), who will be coaching in his last bowl game as well.

Who will replace Tebow or Meyer? Or even DC Charlie Strong who is headed to Louisville, not mention a host of talented players eligible for the draft?

And will they live up to the standards of success set by each?

One thing is for certain, this coming New Years Day in the BCS Sugar Bowl when the one-loss Florida Gators take on the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats (which lost their HC Brian Kelly to Notre Dame), Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow will be looking to further their legends.

The Journalist



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