In his new role as a college football analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow not only needs to be honest but also unbiased. Certainly Tebow will lean toward Florida on many issues – and be summoned when a strong opinion on the Gators is needed – but he has also gone out of his way to do his homework and be as credible a voice as possible in his first year on the job.
Over the last few weeks, during appearances on ESPN, the SEC Network and Jacksonville, Florida, radio station 1010 XL, Tebow has opined plenty about Florida and the situation the program found itself in entering the Georgia game.
He asked fans to stop booing the Gators, discussed how Florida got to the situation it was in two weeks ago following consecutive home losses to unranked Southeastern Conference opponents, and even offered some advice for freshman QB Treon Harris, who started against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday and ultimately helped lead the Gators to a 38-20 upset victory.
During some of these media hits, including on the SEC Network pre-game Saturday show SEC Nation, Tebow explained what he thought what was wrong with the Gators’ offense.
“Offensively, I don’t think they have an identity. I don’t think they have a leader that is taking people together saying let’s do our job, focus on doing your job, getting better and making everyone around them better,” he said. “To [be successful], they have to find a way to score points, and they have to have better leadership offensively.”
It appears as if head coach Will Muschamp heard that statement loud and clear.
Following Saturday’s victory, Muschamp discussed that very topic in his post-game press conference. And though he did not reference Tebow’s statements directly, it is obvious that he strongly disagreed with Tebow’s opinion on the matter.
“Don’t mistake leadership and effort for production, because you can be playing really hard [and not produce],” he began. “Max Garcia is one of the best leaders as a football coach I’ve ever been around. We have good leadership on our team. When you don’t have production, the easiest thing for everybody to say is, ‘They don’t play hard, they don’t play like they used to play, or they don’t have any leadership.’ Well, that’s not true. We got to have production. We got some production [Saturday night]. We got a bunch of great leaders in there that played really hard. So don’t get those things confused.”
Muschamp instead chalked Florida’s offensive problems up to confidence and tentativeness. He believes the success the Gators’ had on Saturday will bleed over into the remainder of the season and get UF on the track it should have been on all along.
“We need to practice well, we need to prepare the right way, and I think our players will. They always do. I don’t see that being an issue,” he said.
Whether Muschamp alerted his players to those comments from Tebow on leadership – or they found out that Tebow picked against his alma mater (for the first time this season) on Saturday’s edition of SEC Nation – a couple of Gators took to Twitter to let Tebow know they were none-too-pleased with either of those comments.
At least two tweets, consisting solely of multiple frown-faced emoji icons, were sent by Florida players to Tebow late Saturday night.
Like any analyst, Tebow will have his words picked apart. Chances are the Gators, if they did at all, used Tebow’s words for motivation. After all, he did say a number of glowing things in support of the players and coaches over the last couple of weeks.
Minutes after telling Florida fans not to boo the players or coaches one week ago, Tebow offered up this in support of Muschamp.
“I think the University of Florida team has a lot of talent. I think they have a lot of good coaches. I don’t think they’ve played up to their potential. I think this team has a chance to be pretty good. Right now, they have the number three defense in the SEC,” he said.
“I also know Will Muschamp, when he was at Auburn, he had one of the best game plans I’ve ever played against in college. This guy knows how to coach. A few years ago, they went to the Sugar Bowl; they were 12-1. He knows how to lead a team. He knows how to be successful.”