The Back Nine: Tebow Rule coming?


Thou shalt not write on eye black?
Thou shalt not write on eye black?

The Back Nine has a new couch with three recliners, so where do you think most of last weekend was spent? That’s right, choosing among the hole-delay at Daytona, the 18th hole at Pebble Beach and the hole in the soul of the International Olympic Committee in Vancouver.

10. But first, let’s get to the news from college football where the NCAA’s Football Rules Committee continues to try to tweak a game we like just the way it is. It appears we’re headed for the Tebow Rule next season, as former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow continues to impact the game after his eligibility has expired. The Back Nine doesn’t think the new rules the FRC has called for to protect concussed players are related to Tebow. It’s more of a reaction to the NFL’s new rules. But not allowing players to put anything on their eye black has to be inspired by Tebow’s use of biblical verses, doesn’t it? I understand the NCAA’s fear that inappropriate slogans or sayings could end up beneath a player’s eyes, but isn’t that the job of the coaches to enforce? I just think back to all of the people who Googled John 3:16 after Tebow wore it in the national title game and how his father, Bob, told me that was his proudest moment. I wonder if there aren’t more important things for the rules committee to worry about.

11. Still, the NCAA doesn’t come across as the most pompous organization. Not this week. Not when the International Olympic Committee blames the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili on driver error. And then shortens the track and installs safety precautions on the luge course. And then says it wasn’t done to make the course safer but to make the athletes feel safer. That’s like saying Dale Earnhardt’s death was his fault but we’re putting these HANS devices on all the drivers to make them feel safer.

Just put a barricade in front of it.
Just put a barricade in front of it.

12. Of course, what would really make NASCAR drivers feel safe is to not have a pothole the size of Peyton Manning’s forehead in the middle of the track. The Back Nine kept going back to the race only to see guys who were dressed like they were dealing with radioactive material spend two hours trying to get the racetrack ready. I kept waiting for someone to cue The Beatles’ “Fixing A Hole.” I’ve seen workers on Gainesville streets fix potholes faster, and they get smoke breaks. The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi points out this is the second snafu involving a playing field for central Florida in a little more than a month after the debacle that was the Capital One Bowl. This was not the Super Bowl of racing’s best moment. I just kept wanting them to put a Bob’s Barricades sign up and drive around it. Now that would be entertaining.

13. February may be the month of love with Valentine’s Day and all, but it hasn’t been lovely for Billy Donovan’s teams. Donovan’s Gator teams have lost more games in February than any other month. Donovan’s UF winning percentage in February is 59.8 and it’s 74 percent in all other months. Even the two national title teams went 8-7 in the month, and the biggest reason Florida may not make the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year is February. The Gators are 8-9 in the month the last three years. The Back Nine really can’t explain it. The schedule does tend to get more difficult. Maybe Donovan works his team so hard this is when they start to feel it. Maybe his teams become more predictable late in the season. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence Donovan’s deepest team in 2000 went 7-1 (with the one loss in overtime) in February.

Hopes fading ... again?
Hopes fading ... again?

14. There are four games remaining in February for these Gators, and how they play in them will have a lot to do with their postseason. Not only do they need wins to climb inside the bubble, what they would really like to have is a third-place finish in the SEC East (I’m assuming first and second are foregone conclusions). Thanks to losses by Tennessee and South Carolina on Saturday, UF is tied for third with the Vols and a half game ahead of the Gamecocks. The third-place finisher gets to face winless LSU (the drive for perfection continues) in the first round and then the second-place team in the West (no matter who it is, it’s certainly a winnable game). We’ll see.

You can call me Al
You can call me Al

15. The Back Nine watched a few minutes of the NBA All-Star Game where the star was the biggest crowd to ever witness a basketball game. It was quite a spectacle. It looked like a Final Four on steroids. I’m just not a big fan of All-Star games that don’t mean anything. It was worthwhile to see former UF stars David Lee and Al Horford play. UF made a big deal about it during the Xavier game, pointing out that Florida was the only school with two players in the game but failed to mention it was the first time UF has had any player in the game.

16. This is one of those weekends where it’s great to live in Gainesville if you like sports. The men’s basketball team is out of town, but there are five softball games, three baseball games, a big gymnastics meet, a men’s tennis match, a women’s basketball game and the school’s first lacrosse match all taking place during the weekend in Gainesville. Kelsey and I hope to see you somewhere.

17. The softball team opened its season with a 3-1 record at a tournament in Clearwater, and Francesca Enea put on a show. She hit three homers and knocked in 10 runs in the games. But Tim Walton has to be hoping Stephanie Brombacher just got off to a bad start and will settle down. Brombacher has taken over for departed Stacey Nelson and suffered her first loss after 42 straight wins. Moreover, she left Clearwater with a 6.91 ERA and allowed 16 hits and 11 runs in the tournament.

18. The Back Nine appreciates those of you who send in music suggestions. Here are mine for you this week — “Everybody Hurts” by various artists in the remake of the R.E.M. song with proceeds going to help Haiti, “We Are the People” by Empire of the Sun, and for the old school in you try a little “Incense and Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Tasty.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at


  1. I don’t know that it would be fair to call it the “Tebow Rule”. Players have been writing things under their eyes for years. As far as the new rule is concerned, I believe all the NCAA would have to do is classify the eye black tape worn under the eyes as part of the uniform and then a player would not be able to modify the tape by writing on it. This would negate the necessity for a new rule. I believe current rules state they cannot wear different colored headbands or wear their shirts untucked or any of the other silly rule aimed to clean up the sport. As a matter of fact I think they should limit the number of rules allowed. That way if they create a new rule they would have to get rid of an old rule. We would get rid of the useless rules by atrition and keep up with pertinent rules.

  2. while i’m sure they have more important things to focus on, i would prefer for athletes to keep their religions and politics off the field. if they want to stand for something off the field, more power to them. but while your on the field representing a school or an organization…..let’s just keep it about the sport.

  3. Tim Tebow is a hero to many kids, I hope tht he remains a role model that teens can look up to. The media and gossip magizines are just looking for a story that involves Tim. NASCAR and other sports orginizations have benifited from this yound man as well as the orginization that had the ads in the Super Bowl.

    Let’s give the guy a break and not worry about his conduct outside the football game. Gee, will the tabloids and others try to sneak into the mens room to see what brand toilet paper the poor guy uses. Enough is enough give Tim an dhis family a well deserved break ou tof the headlines

  4. ridiculous Dooley….I could think of 5 eye black writings this season alone that are responsible for this new rule. WHICH I agree with. Uniforms are ment for players to look identical…ya know, LIKE A TEAM. Allowing players to write whatever they want under their eyes is the equivalent to letting them wear a t-shirt that says whatever they want under there jersey, available to pull up and show any time. Good on the NCAA

  5. Why the BIG DEAL with Tebow’s eye gear??? Players have been putting stuff on their eye gear for years, mostly area codes but really??? Does the NCAA have nothing better to do, what a waste. They should try to fix their BCS baby and start with a playoff system… Get real NCAA

  6. Regarding the “Tebow Rule”: No, it didn’t hut anyone that he put biblical verses under his eyes, but I have always maintained that most of the people who defended him would be screaming if someone put something like NO GOD under his eyes. The whole “he has a right . . . ” argument would go out the window as they demanded, DEMANDED, that the NCAA stop this horrible person from insulting their god.

  7. Nice reference to Strawberry Alarm Clock, Pat. A tidbit you’re probably aware of, but some readers might not be is Ed King, one of the guitarists for SAC, later played with an early version of Lynyrd Skynyrd

  8. I am so frustrated at the NCAA for their latest rule about the eye black. I dare them to show me where this has been unsportsman like. I also think that this is an infringement on freedom of speech. Please let us, the fans know, where we can write to let the NCAA know our disagreement with them on this. I hope the teams will not obey this rule. Sometimes, breaking the rule is the only way to get the proper attention. Just because a governing body makes a rule, does not mean it is right.

  9. I recently read from one of your fellow writers that there have been 26 gators arrested during Meyer’s tenure at UF. Do you know how many of them have actually finished college with a degree? Perhaps the arrested number should be available for all SEC teams? I do realize that many of the charges are dropped for various reasons.

  10. Not the Coaches Job.

    Don’t coaches have enough to do w/o having to police what a player affixes to his body? Regardless of the message, Tebow’s attempt to advertise his beliefs while playing on my behalf is nothing short of exclusive.
    The Gator Nation is all encompassing stretching around the globe and transcending all cultures. It is ubiquitous. Yet, when the most popular Gator is allowed to advertise his exclusive beliefs and is then supported by you and others who share his beliefs then Gators who do not Share those beliefs are excluded. It’s that simple.
    There have been a number of Muslim players on the Gators over the years. Imagine if one of them advertised scripture from the Koran. And a father’s pride is little justification for Tebow’s behavior. Tim is a strong Christian. Who among us doesn’t support whatever he is doing to be the great player he is?
    But, the bottom line is, whenever a player dons a uniform, personal messaging should not be allowed. It is counter to the team concept. Tebow did not own his image when he went on the field as a Gator—no college player does. Off the field Tim can walk around with a cross on his back for all anyone really cares.
    It’s interesting that Tebow’s star as a player seems non-existent at the moment. No one’s talking about his ability or where or how he will be as a pro.’ However, his star as a social programmer is burning brightly. Regardless of his Father’s pride, that’s hardly enough to get drafted to the NFL — And hardly relevant to the Gator Nation.
    Just remove the messages and unite as a team and go out and play as one too.

  11. If there is no writing allowed on the black patches of the face, there is no writing allowed on any part of the uniform. No more bracelets with names of girlfriends or the deceased or the ill or anybody else that a player is “playing for”. Any other standard is another example of religious discrimination. Isn’t this what our founders were fleeing England to the New World for – to create a country where a person can worship without persecution? If a muslim player wants to put a biblical reference from the Koran, let him do it. I would not discriminate against him expressing his religious beliefs. If you are concerned about the team concept, then go complain about Georgia and FSU and all their helmet decals. If that isn’t an anti-team concept, I don’t know what is. None of those players could earn their little kindergarden decals without the assistance of their “team-mates”.

  12. Pat go to decaf. Your bouncing around like a super ball,…”Selling” religion is not a good thing no matter what religion it is or who is doing it… I dont personally care but it gets some peoples panties in a wad”degrading their beliefs somehow… And My song is SATISFACTION by the Rolling stones dedicated to all the US Taxpayers in the world on How they feel about the Goverment spending and corruption.

  13. Messages on eyeblack have no place on any athlete, especially if they are college athletes playing for public universities. Everyhting the college athlete touches is paid for via public taxation. There is supposed to be a “wall of separation” between Church and State. Players not long ago were wearing bandanas representing gang colors and flashing gang hand signs when they knew they were on camera. Urban Meyer did not control the situation, so the NCAA stepped in–only after Tebow graduated. Headbands with messages are banned in the NFL because a certain Bears quarterback defied the league management. Do we want athletes at public universities to attack, or defend, abortion, or gay rights, etc., through messages worn anywhere while they are on camera?

  14. Stop the Tebow hero-worship for a moment, and ask yourself if you’d feel the same if another prominent player displayed verses from Islam, the Torah, Wiccan pronouncements, or straight-up atheist declarations. You’d soil yourselves in indignation. But with St. Tim you make exceptions because it’s “christian,” and you feel it’s ok to shove your fantasies in the faces of those of us who find your beliefs bordering on the silly.
    Grow up, children.

  15. Where exactly is this “wall of separation” stated? In the constitution? Show it to me. Implying some equivalence to Tebow’s bible verses and gang signs is offensive in the extreme, and I’m not a believer. As for trying to imagine the response if a moslem athlete had done the same, I suspect the response would have been, “Yawn… oh, look, a moslem scripture on his eye black.” I know it’s a lot of fun to imagine yourself the voice of justice in a bigoted world, but you, sir, are the bigot. Freedom is messy. It means sometimes your precious sensibilities will be offended. Get over yourself. Yeesh.

  16. Gary Coil, if you ever read the constitution you would know that the “separation from Church and State” as you call it is not there. What the ammendment is about is protecting the people from government interference from religious activity and worship and to prevent the government from establishing a required religion as England had at the time. It’s funny liberals are into freedom of speech unless they agree. Tebow or kids like him hurt no one with the messages. You are probably upset about kids like Danny Wuerful folding their hands in prayer also. Get a life.

  17. Does this mean we have finally caught up with FSU? The DION rule.
    I can see where some of the finer kids might put something offensive or weird on there face, but other players on the team can take care of that situaton. Seniors!! There’s got to be alot of other things the wonderfull all knowing NCAA can direct their attention to isn’t there?

  18. It’s baffling how people act as though Tebow is the first person ever to write something on his eyeblack – for years players have used not only eyeblack but head & wrist bands, and even shoes to write everything from words of motivation to nicknames to area codes. Even one of my all-time favorite players & arguably one of the greatest ever to play the game, Walter Payton, regularly wore “Sweetness” (how modest) on his headband. And no one ever questioned his humility or selflessness.

    Now after years of ‘me first’ bravado running rampant in football there’s controversy about the ‘message’ that players are portraying on their eyeblack? People need to get a life… players have as much right to put a Scripture under their eyes as anything else, and there are much worse things that Tebow could be promoting other than his relationship with God.

    The real issue is that unlike most athletes, Tebow’s message is clearly about Jesus Christ. And what is this ‘rule’ about a “wall of separation between Church and State?” People don’t have a problem ignoring the “wall” when they want to attack a person for standing up for God. And it’s great that Bob Tebow was more proud of Tim for the impact of his eyeblack Scripture than the record-setting day he had in the last game of his collegiate career. People feel about Tim and his stand for Christ, they’d be lying if they say they would not be proud to have him as a son or son-in-law.

    Keep up the good work, Tim, and much success in all your future endeavors, NFL and beyond. (And WAKE UP, men’s basketball team!) Here’s a little Tebow eyeblack for the rest of you: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

  19. Who cares really long as they are not obscene.
    Also, the comment above about “everything being paid by public taxation” is wrong. What, we wore Nike uniforms just to be nice guys? Didn’t get paid? Just more people being “anal” about everything. Personally I would just put a big..F OFF under there for idiots out there who try to squelch my freedom of speech.

  20. …playing on your behalf? Yeah… the players run out of the tunnel thinking,”What will Tom think.” I could careless if Tebow ran out the tunnel with a turban on. I don’t think the players gave up their constitutional rights when they enrolled in school? If it kills you to watch it, change the channel. Go Gators! And GOD bless the USA.

  21. Athletes should be able to have a message if they like, Bible verse, Koran verse, area code … as long as it is not vulgar or obscene. They are people and have the right to express themselves.

    Separation of “Church and State” was to ensure that there is not a mandated religion for our country as there was in England. It was not created to say that anyone who goes to any church has no right to the democratic process.

    This stuff isn’t hard to figure logically. Slow down Gary and Tom.

  22. The university is a public institution. Students/athletes should be free to express themselves within the boundaries of what is publically acceptable.
    Contrary to the desires of you draconian fascists, standards of acceptability are, rightly, determined regionally in order that they may reflect the sensibilities of the local majority. In case you failed to notice, our beloved U of F is located in the heart of the Southeast where religious devotion comes second only to football. If that is offensive to you personally, then why don’t you go to school in the Northeast somewhere? (or better yet, Southern California)
    The real thing at issue here, in my opinion, is that the NCAA – a PRIVATE organization – is in the process of further sanitizing its PRODUCT. So, for the purpose of expanding and protecting its market, the NCAA is attempting to refine what may be at this point its most profitable FRANCHISE to date (the Gators). Why should the University Reagents and the regional community allow a private enterprise to dictate their standards of acceptability? Why should we, as United States citizens allow corporate interests to usurp our constitutional freedom?
    If this goes through, Florida and the SEC should secede from the NCAA. The SEC and the Gators won’t lose any viewership…

    Tag Bradbury, UF ‘96

  23. The atmosphere surrounding college athletics is too often tainted by egocentric behavior ranging from excessively vain displays on the field to actual criminal charges off the field. There is a balancing effect when we see that a college player, regardless of his religion or creed, wishes to share his belief in something greater than self and that he values all three aspects of his humanity. Even the ancient Greeks celebrated the development of mind, body and soul. It is apparent that Tim Tebow, like an Olympian athlete, has worked hard to develop all three of these—as his actions on and off the field, and what we can read by magnifying what was written under his eyes, modestly attest. Whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Krishna or whatever, a college player’s personal expression of faith backed up with selfless behavior has merit in my opinion.

  24. Do you think Billy Donovan has lost his desire to coach the Gators since reneging on the Magic three years ago? I personally think he wanted that job badly but stayed because of his family and his heart is no longer with the Gators. It shows in his lack of intensity at games and the lack of big recruits. Three years removed from back to back championships we should not be a “bubble team.” I think Billy needs to put his heart back in it 100% or let someone else who wants to be a college coach do the job.

  25. I agree that a player should not use his appearance on television as a college athlete to promote his religious, political, or any other beliefs other than his desire for his team to win. It is not the time nor the place. I have always resented Tebow using every interview for an opportunity to preach his brand of fundamentalist Christianity.

  26. “Everyhting the college athlete touches is paid for via public taxation”

    Not everywhere Gary.

    Many athletic departments are seperate privately funded entities… Including UF. Not much of anything Gator athletes touch comes from tax payer money, although that is NOT the case at all STATE schools in Florida.

  27. I see nothing wrong with the messages that Tebow writes, but where do you draw the line? What if a player thinks it’s cute to write “Miami S*cks!” when his team plays the Hurricanes,
    or some obscene or profane message? Next step is an eye black police: personal foul penalties for certain sayings. I think most head coaches have more things to worry about than what some kid wants to put on his eyepatch, and the national negative attention (broadcast facilitated) that this would bring a quality football program. Some kid wants to be featured on ESPN, choose the right offensive message.

    Slippery slope here, probably needs to stop now and let the NCAA say so.