Dan Mullen: If Tim Tebow injured, Florida Gators would’ve still won 2008 title with Cam Newton

By Adam Silverstein
July 15, 2015

Drawing comparisons between Urban Meyer‘s current quarterback dilemma at Ohio State and the Florida Gators depth chart in 2008 – which included one former and one future Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback – Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said Tuesday that he believes the Gators would’ve still won the 2008 national title even if Tim Tebow had gone down with an injury and Cam Newton finished the season under center.

“When I was at Florida, I knew Cam Newton was the real deal but Timmy was playing,” Mullen, Florida’s offensive coordinator under Meyer, told CBSSports.com‘s Jon Solomon on Tuesday. “If Timmy had gotten hurt, Cam would have come in and won the championship.”

It is tough to argue with Mullen’s logic, in general, considering how dominant Newton was during the final two years of his career, winning back-to-back FCS and FBS national titles after leaving the Gators. During the title-winning 2010 season at Auburn, Newton finished with 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns through the air (to only seven interceptions) and 1,473 yards with 20 touchdowns on the ground, earning him the 2010 Heisman Trophy.

The argument that could be made against Mullen is that Newton, by all accounts, was far from mature enough to handle being the starting quarterback at Florida. Newton was famously on the verge of being expelled from school for a combination of reasons, including the alleged theft and destruction of a laptop and allegedly cheating at his schoolwork, before jumping ahead of that process and transferring out of UF on his own.

For Gators fans, losing Newton at the time did not seem like the end of the world as Florida – like Ohio State now – believed it had three star quarterbacks on its roster. Tebow returned for his senior season and started during the 2009 campaign only to be succeeded by John Brantley, the third quarterback behind Tebow and Newton, who never amounted to much at UF.

As it turns out, Newton’s had the most success of the three, not only winning the same Heisman and national title (as a starter) like Tebow but going on to start for the Carolina Panthers in each of the last four NFL seasons.

Perhaps Newton would have been able to lead the Gators to the national title in 2008, just like Tebow did. Of course, had Tebow gone down before the Ole Miss game, Florida may never have heard “The Promise,” and who knows what would have happened from there on out.


  1. Buster says:

    I really hope everyone realizes that John Brantley destroyed this program.

    He’s a great kid and I don’t blame him, but he did. He destroyed the Florida program.
    He played for championship caliber teams and he was pretty much the only weak link.
    I blame Urban for playing him instead of keeping Cam on the team or going with Jordan Reed.

  2. Buster says:

    Just a hypothetical here. If Cam doesn’t get “kicked off” the team do we win the title in 2010? Does Urban quit? Is he still our coach?

    I believe we would have won the title in 2010. I also believe that Urban would have stayed longer and might possibly still be here.

  3. G2 says:

    I have always thought the same thing, just that one players away from a dynasty.
    Honestly I didn’t think he was as good as he turned out to be, all we had to go on was mop up duty and spring practice. Instead Bama grabbed the momentum, Urbs had a meltdown, and the rest is history.

  4. Ken (CA) says:

    “cam was the real deal but Timmy was playing”. I understand the point he was making but was Mullen making an underhanded dig at Tebow, as if Newton should have been the starter, but, sorry, Tim was already there?