Like most things in the SEC, your vantage point probably has a lot to do with what you think Tim Tebow's legacy will be in this conference.
Looking at it with jaded eyes (or jealous eyes), he is a guy that received way too much publicity, had obvious flaws as a passer and was surrounded by the kind of talent that would make any quarterback look good.
Looking at it with open eyes (and an open mind), he’s one of the best college players this league has ever seen, and without a doubt, one of its fiercest competitors.
I understand the Tebow backlash. If you’re living in Athens or Knoxville or Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge, you’re sick and tired of the guy.
After all, he’s been playing at Florida since we made the switch from rotary phones.
It was the same way with Tyler Hansbrough in basketball at North Carolina. It was the same way with Peyton Manning when he was at Tennessee.
But, now, Tebow's career is finally coming to a close. He plays his final home game at the Swamp this Saturday against Florida State in what will surely be an emotional time for the Gator Nation.
Make that an emotional time for Florida coach Urban Meyer, who’s saying goodbye to a senior class that has won more games (46) than any other class in SEC history.
It was all Meyer could do to get through his press conference Monday without breaking down. Several times, he had to stop and compose himself.
He understands unequivocally what this senior class has meant to the program.
He understands what Tebow has meant to the program.
We’ll see better passing quarterbacks come through the SEC. We may see one come through Florida next season when John Brantley takes over the reins.
I doubt we’ll see one (at least any time soon) who impacts the game in as many different ways as Tebow did.
He’s the best third-down player I’ve ever seen at quarterback in college football. It’s like Steve Spurrier told me last summer. He simply wills his team to third-down conversions – running, throwing, scrambling, whatever he has to do.
Without Tebow’s third-down mastery, Florida doesn’t beat Alabama in the SEC championship game last season.
He’s the reason you look at this year’s matchup in Atlanta -- and despite Alabama’s vaunted defense and despite some of Florida’s issues on offense this season -- know that the Gators will be right there.
To me, in a nutshell, that is Tebow’s legacy.
The 54 touchdowns are impressive, as are all of his records.
His missionary work off the field and his commitment to bettering the lives of others has certainly helped him transcend sports.
His rock star status, the catchy “Superman” nickname and his almost mythical persona have taken him to heights that few college players ever attain.
But in my book, what sets him apart is the way he’s won, the way he’s inspired his teammates to win and the way he’s managed to keep winning despite being one of the most visible targets college football has seen in a long time.
Tebow’s Gators have won 21 straight games and counting. He already owns two national championship rings and is seeking a third. And despite 653 career rushing attempts, not to mention a concussion, he’s never missed a start.
Bill Parcells used to always say that you are what your record says you are.
Tebow’s record says that he’s a winner.
As legacies go, I can’t imagine a better one.