Tebow has not left the building


Published: Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 5:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 5:41 p.m.

Elvis needed something new, something fresh.

So he held up a microphone and gave everybody something special on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.

Tim Tebow's post-Ole Miss speech was been replayed so many times the CD was starting to skip. Now the guys who thrive on soundbites have this:

"Oh yeah and by the way, one more thing, let's do it again. I'm coming back!"

How many times do you think you'll see that again, whether it's on television or on the back of T-shirts?

Like the Beatles (a.k.a. the basketball Oh-Fours) did before him, he made girls scream. "We back, baby!" has been replaced by "I'm coming back!"

On the day Florida celebrated its third national title, the chances for a fourth received a big boost when Tebow announced he will return for his senior year. Look for Florida to be a preseason No. 1 next season, even if Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes (who was conspicuous by his absence) don't follow Tebow's lead.

"Whoever they say it is loses, so I hope it's not us," Tebow said. "We always have a bull's-eye at Florida."

It has never been bigger than it is now.

If you felt a tremor in the force Sunday it was probably the collective shudder from the SEC's defensive coordinators. Another year of trying to stop the bull? Thanks for nothing.

The celebration had been subdued until Tebow's announcement. It reminded me of "The Sixth Sense." Have you seen that movie? Everybody was raving about it, so one day I watched it. For 90 minutes I wondered what the big deal was and then BAM! the punch line.

Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was the quick turnaround from Thursday. Maybe it was because it was a Sunday. Or maybe the Gator Nation is simply getting used to these things.

Until the end, we didn't learn much.

We learned that Louis Murphy likes to say, "Man." He must have said it a hundred times in his speech.

We learned that defensive line coach Dan McCarney can't dance and Major Wright can. McCarney's number looked like a combination of an Irish jig and Pee Wee Herman.

We learned that former Florida safety Lawrence Wright likes a mic in his hands. Actually, we already knew that.

Even the unveiling of the 2008 sign above the National Champions logo had a glitch, the tarp getting stuck on the "L" in National.

The fans who showed up didn't fill half the stadium, but they were treated to a couple of highlights. Carlos Alvarez, wearing his old No. 45 jersey, unveiling the SEC Championship for 2008 on the wall. The passing of the crystal trophy from Danny Wuerffel to Chris Leak to Tebow.

But let's face it.

Everyone was there for one reason.

They hoped this would be a day to remember.

It was.

Tebow wanted to get the decision over quickly. He and his family met with Meyer for five hours Saturday and finally made up his mind. He said it was about loyalty. He didn't get into the details of what he was told by the NFL advisory board or coaches Meyer put him in touch with during the meeting.

But in the end, I think it came down to this.

Tebow is a Gator. He wants to stay a Gator. The NFL will be there. He's likely to improve his draft status with a big senior year, but he didn't come to Florida as a way to go pro. He came to win championships.

He is the face of college football. Why not enjoy it for another year?

You could sense his relief. A lot of us are relieved in the media because we won't have to answer that question a thousand more times on radio shows or in driveways.

Gator-haters, on the other hand, have to be miserable. When is this all going to end? Four national titles in 33 months and now another year of Tebow-mania. Sheesh.

On a day that was part "Dancing with the Stars" and part "American Idol," Elvis stole the show again.

By not leaving the building.

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