Tim Tebow kicks off relationship with ESPN

ESPN announced a new relationship with former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow on Dec. 30, 2013, one which will feature the Heisman Trophy-winning signal caller as an analyst on the new SEC Network’s College GameDay spin-off show SEC Nation beginning on Aug. 28, 2014.

While the debut of that program is still nearly nine months away, the network’s latest association with Tebow actually kicked off this week with ESPN first airing a special feature on Tebow the football player before having him don a suit to serve as an analyst on the network’s all-day coverage of the 2014 BCS National Championship.

“A month ago I got a call from Tim Tebow, asking me to come down to USC where he’s been training and give him a brutally honest evaluation of where he’s at,” began former NFL quarterback and now Tebow’s fellow ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer in the intro to Tebow’s video feature. “And as we all know, this past week, ESPN and Tim agreed upon a deal for him to work with the SEC Network. However, he has not given up on his dream of playing quarterback in the National Football League. My job was to go down there and see if he can now pass well enough for that dream to become a reality.


“Well, I spend 365 days of the year looking at quarterbacks – high school, college, pros – and I don’t have all the answers. I do know this,” Dilfer began in his outro from the feature. “If you put Tim Tebow on a football field right now with four other NFL quarterbacks and you don’t know who they were and you just watched the ball – don’t watch the player, just watch the ball – you wouldn’t know which one was Tim Tebow and you wouldn’t know which one was another NFL quarterback.

“I want you to understand this in this context: This is one of the greatest players that ever played college football and he didn’t know how to pass. I believe now he knows how to pass. Every GM, every scout, every personnel person out there should go at least watch Tim Tebow now because it’s a different guy.”

The day after the video aired, on Jan. 6, 2014, Tebow sat behind ESPN’s desk for the first time as an analyst. He was first introduced as the newest member of the Worldwide Leader in Sports before being asked by the future host of SEC Nation, Joe Tessitore, about Texas hiring former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong as head coach.

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ESPN, SEC Network hire Tim Tebow as analyst

Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has been hired as a college football analyst for the SEC Network, which is set to launch in August 2014.

The three-year deal announced by ESPN on Monday will position Tebow as the lead analyst on the SEC Network’s College GameDay spin-off show SEC Nation. The pregame program will travel across the country and air from a different Southeastern Conference venue each week starting Aug. 28, 2014.

Tebow will essentially take Kirk Herbstreit’s chair on the program, which will be hosted by Joe Tessitore and have Paul Finebaum on board in the role Lee Corso made famous.

The Heisman Trophy winner will also be a contributor across other ESPN platforms. His first assignments with the World Wide Leader in Sports come on Jan. 6, 2014, when he serves as an analyst during pregame coverage throughout the day ahead of the 2014 BCS National Championship featuring Florida State and Auburn.

“I am so excited that ESPN has given me this incredible opportunity,” said Tebow in the press release. “When I was six years old I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC.”

According to the network, “Tebow’s role with ESPN will not preclude him from continuing to pursue playing opportunities in the NFL.” Should Tebow be signed by an NFL team, he would be able to opt out of his contract with ESPN and return to the gridiron.

“Tim is a SEC icon with a national fan base and broad appeal. He will be a significant contributor to the compelling content we will deliver with the SEC Network,” said Justin Connolly, ESPN‘s de facto SEC Network head honcho in the release. “Tim brings a wealth of knowledge about the game, the conference and the passion among SEC fans.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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OGGOA Week in Review Updates: Offensive coordinator, point guards, Tim Tebow

Though Florida Gators football saw its season come to an end last Saturday and Florida basketball does not have a game until Tuesday, there has nevertheless been plenty of Gators news to cover this week.

A number of the stories covered by OnlyGators.com deserve updates now that the week has come to a conclusion, hence this special edition of OGGOA Week in Review. Some updates can be found below while others are in the appropriately linked stories.

SEARCH FOR AN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CONTINUES

When offensive coordinator Brent Pease was released on Sunday, OnlyGators.com published an early look at some candidates to replace him. That list has been updated throughout the week and once again on Saturday. Check out the original post – Replacing Brent Pease as offensive coordinator – for the latest information.

POINT GUARDS HEALTHIER THAN ADVERTISED

Sources close to the program and players told OnlyGators.com multiple times over the last week to expect both of the Gators’ point guards – senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill – to play on Tuesday at home against Kansas. This was information strongly hinted at during a post earlier in the week.

Florida announced on Tuesday that Wilbekin, who left Monday’s game at UConn with an ankle injury, had suffered a high-ankle sprain despite the fact that the player reportedly left the arena that night under his own power without the use of crutches or a boot. On Saturday, the Gators released a long post on their own website detailing the rehabilitation that Wilbekin has been undergoing. Hidden within the piece, Wilbekin was suddenly listed as “questionable” for Tuesday’s game despite there previously having been “no timetable” for his recovery.

Saturday evening at 6 p.m., UF relented and finally announced that Wilbekin not only practiced in the afternoon but has already been cleared to play on Tuesday. The school is now referring to his injury only as an “ankle sprain.”

Hill, on the other hand, legitimately suffered a high-ankle sprain three weeks ago, and the one-month recovery timetable provided by Florida was indeed accurate. However, he has been working extremely hard at his rehabilitation and is also expected to suit up for the Gators on Tuesday as long as he can stand the discomfort. Hill is unlikely to be at 100 percent for the game but would instead spell Wilbekin at point guard for a couple minutes each half. He is legitimately questionable.

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Keep an eye out for Tim Tebow on your TV

Unless something unexpectedly changes over the next few weeks, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will not play a down of football in the 2013 NFL regular season after failing to earn a roster spot with the New England Patriots in August.

Though there have been a rash of quarterback injuries this season and a number of less successful and talented signal callers were signed by franchises across the league, Tebow’s phone did not ring with another opportunity. Teams are either not interested in Tebow’s talent, still balking at the so-called “circus” that follows him…or both. And he has shown no willingness to attempt and extend his career by taking a shot at playing across the border in the CFL or even at home in the AFL.

Instead, he has spent the entire year out west working on his game with personal instructors while exploring another career path – broadcaster. Tebow has even gone so far as to hire Creative Arts Agency broadcast agent Nick Khan to represent him in what are believed to be serious negotiations with a number of networks.

It should come as no surprise then that ESPN, which is launching the SEC Network in August 2014 and looking for a headline-grabbing talent, and CBS, which owns the rights to the Southeastern Conference game of the week, are two of three major networks already vying for Tebow’s on-air services.

According to Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com, FOX Sports is also in the running though certainly a distant third both in terms of current plans and potential opportunities.

McIntyre reports that ESPN plans for Tebow to have a featured role on the SEC Network in what could be considered the “Kirk Herbstreit chair” on the new channel’s version of College GameDay. The program would be hosted by Rece Davis (taking Chris Fowler’s spot) and also feature Paul Finebaum (for Lee Corso) and another former SEC player (who would take on a hybrid Desmond Howard-David Pollack position).

Update: The SEC Network announced Friday that Joe Tessitore will host the show, which has been titled SEC Nation.

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TWO BITS: 2013-14 SEC games, Youngblood

1 » ESPN on Monday released its Super Tuesday schedule, and Florida Gators basketball will be featured on three primetime games – vs. Missouri on Feb. 4 at 9 p.m., at Tennessee on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. and at Vanderbilt on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. Florida had previously been announced as the visiting team for ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday, Feb. 15 at Kentucky, a contest that will tip-off at 9 p.m.

Also on Monday, OnlyGators.com learned that the Southeastern Conference will announce the 2013-14 league schedule this week. OnlyGators.com can also report the Gators’ 2013-14 SEC opponents. Florida will face Kentucky (permanent rival), Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee twice each as rotational opponents. (The SEC’s 18-game schedule features five home-and-home series and eight opponents that a school will play once each, four home and four away.) UF will host Georgia, Missouri, LSU and Texas A&M and leave Gainesville, FL, to take on Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt on their respective home courts.

2 » Former Florida defensive end Jack Youngblood explains what it is like for a Gators football player to prepare for game day in this video from the school’s marketing wing.

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SIX BITS: Andrews, Brown, Parsons, Beal, Zunino; Aaron Hernandez updates

1 » Former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews and softball player Jenn Brown, just over one year ago, were both working as sideline reports for ESPN with the former taking on a bunch of other duties as well. Neither remains with the network today, but Andrews and Brown each have a great opportunity to shine with their new company. Andrews, who was hired by FOX Sports last July, spent 2012 sitting at a studio desk as host of a primetime college football pre-game show while also serving as a sideline reporter for major sports events including the MLB postseason. According to SB Nation, her duties will increase this season with the launch of the FOX Sports 1 network. Andrews will move from the primetime half-hour show to hosting a new college football pregame show that will air on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, going head-to-head with ESPN’s College GameDay. Before leaving ESPN, Andrews was given hosting duties for the first hour of College GameDay, which aired from 9-10 a.m. on ESPNU.

Brown, after spending a short stint working with NBC, has signed a deal with the NFL Network, according to The Big Lead. She will start appearing on-air Thursday when she hosts the network’s Total Access show though the breath of her duties is currently unknown. “I’m thrilled to get back to the NFL,” she told the website. “The first sports job I had was on Inside the NFL. Covering college football for ESPN was a great time and I learned a lot, but it’s good to get back to the NFL.”

2 » Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears sat down with Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons to discuss what OnlyGators.com reported almost three weeks ago – Parsons’s role in luring free agent center Dwight Howard to Houston. “I spent a lot of time during the summer in L.A.,” Parsons explained. “We kind of just hit it off. We literally would text every day. [Howard would] call me at 8 p.m. with a question and then he’d call me at midnight with the same question. … I was just that guy trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible. We have very similar personalities. We are both outgoing. We’re always smiling. We like to have fun. I made him really comfortable that he was not only coming to a really good team, but a team with his friends.” Parsons also talks about his pitch, being involved in the official meeting and where he was when he learned Howard chose the Rockets.

Read and watch four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Andrews, Brown, Parsons, Beal, Zunino; Aaron Hernandez updates

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Muschamp’s fourth trip through ESPN’s car wash

Updated at 7:30 p.m.

Joining a handful of other Southeastern Conference coaches in Bristol, CT, on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp went through ESPN’s “car wash” as he appeared on nearly a dozen of the network’s media platforms over the course of one day. It is the fourth time Muschamp is being put through the wringer by ESPN after previously participating in April 2011, July 2011 and July 2012.

OnlyGators.com followed Muschamp’s media appearances throughout the day and updated this post live with the news, notes and quotes from all of his appearances.

Muschamp started the day by taping an interview for ESPN Radio’s GameDay Radio at 11 a.m. He then walked over to the set of First Take on ESPN2 for a conversation with host Cari Champion and contributors Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless at 11:20 a.m.

Asked about only losing one Southeastern Conference game but being an “also-ran” in the league, Muschamp said the Gators “gained a lot of confidence as a program” in 2012 and that he is “really excited about how things have come together as far as our roster is concerned.” He continued: “As long as we take care of our locker room and take care of our football team and prepare the right way, we’re going to have a great season. [...] We can’t control what other teams do or what you guys [the media] say. We can control how we play and how we prepare.”

Muschamp was then asked to elaborate about his comments from the 2013 SEC Media Days in which he joked about Ohio State and former Florida head coach Urban Meyer turning in the Gators for minor secondary NCAA recruiting violations. “Obviously they’ve had their share of brushes recently,” he said with a smile. “In both situations, we didn’t do anything wrong. we appreciate them checking on us to make sure.”

Smith then asked Muschamp if he said “Ohio” on purpose rather than saying the team’s true name, “Ohio State.” He replied: “I’ve always been a Brady Hoke fan.” [Editor's Note: Hoke is the head coach of Michigan, OSU's biggest rival.]

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SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers on Thursday and officially became a free agent but may have already decided on his next stop. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Oklahoma City Thunder are “frontrunners” to sign Miller and plan to meet with him on Friday in Miami, FL. Though Miller does want to play for a contender, the most the Thunder can offer him is the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. No team bid on Miller during the waiver process because he has considered having back surgery this offseason. Because he passed through waivers, he will earn the full $12.8 million remaining on his Miami Heat contract in addition to whatever deal he agrees to sign with a new team. That is one reason why he may decide to accept a veteran’s minimum contract over a slightly more lucrative deal from another franchise. Others reportedly in contention for Miller’s services are one of his former teams, Memphis, along with Houston, Golden State and San Antonio.

Miami thanked Miller for his three years of service with this full-page newspaper advertisement in Thursday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

2 » Florida head coach Will Muschamp will join the 13 other Southeastern Conference coaches by participating in ESPN’s “Car Wash” from July 22-23 in Bristol, CT, the network announced on Thursday. Muschamp will be featured on the second day of the festivities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. OnlyGators.com will have a live blog and full coverage of Muschamp going through the ringer on Tuesday.

3 » Gators four-star 2014 commitment G Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) was a big get for a team looking to add some major scoring talent. A native of the Dominican Republic like former Florida big man Al Horford, Francis told Scarberry Media’s Zach Fleer that the Atlanta Hawks center played a big role in his pledge. “I grew up watching Florida play because of him, you know?” Francis said. “I just fell in love with the school and now knowing that I’m going to wear that jersey, [it] means more than one feeling to me.” He also Gator Chomps after good baskets (see below).

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

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