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Posted: Tuesday January 13, 2009 8:11AM; Updated: Tuesday January 13, 2009 1:46PM
Stewart Mandel Stewart Mandel >
COLLEGE FOOTBALL MAILBAG

For some fans, 'Tebow Fatigue' already seems to be taking hold

Story Highlights

Despite Tim Tebow's good qualities, some readers are growing tired of him

Are loaded Florida and Texas on a collision course for next year's title game?

Why is there a different level of BCS-backlash for Ohio State and Oklahoma?

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Tim Tebow has won a Heisman Trophy, two national titles and the ire of some fans.
Tim Tebow has won a Heisman Trophy, two national titles and the ire of some fans.
Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Stewart Mandel's Mailbag
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The BCS Championship Game is always my latest work night of the season -- especially the one year out of four when it's played in the Eastern time zone.

As myself, Andy Staples and a couple of other writers waited outside Dolphin Stadium at 3:30 a.m. last Friday for the shuttle bus back to our hotel, our conversation turned from the game we just watched to the landscape heading into next season. Mainly, we talked about how loaded Florida would be if Tim Tebow returned for his senior season.

"There's only one negative about him coming back," I told my fellow writers. "You just know 'Tebow Fatigue' is going to set in with fans around the country."

As it turns out, it's already happened.

Dear Stewart, Why does Tim Tebow have to come back? I have to listen to commentators babble about him for another whole season now.
-- Matt Schlichting, Winter Park, Fla.

Can we put a moratorium on the Tebow loving that is going on for a moment? It is one thing to fawn over him as nearly everyone does. I get it -- good player, seemingly a good person, on a good team. But some are already putting him on the pantheon of "all-time greats?" Let us step away for a moment and breathe a little bit. Perhaps you, who I usually consider fair and balanced in the face of hoopla and hype, can give some direction on his stature in the world of college football.
-- Chris, Irvine, Calif.

I did not see the Fox telecast of the game, but I've read a great number of accounts complaining about the over-the-top Tebow fawning by announcers Thom Brennamen and Charles Davis. It's hard for me to comment on something I didn't hear, but I do know from watching some of Fox's other BCS broadcasts that its announcers seem to treat the games as if the people watching them haven't seen either of the teams play all season (which may, in fact, be true of themselves). While the title game does draw a great number of casual viewers, I can see where that would be redundant to those of you who already know Tebow's story frontward and backward.

That being said, unless those guys inferred Tebow literally does leap over tall buildings in a single bound, I'm guessing everything they said is absolutely true.

One of the more bothersome trends I've noticed among college fans in recent years is the inevitable backlash occurring toward pretty much any great team or player as soon as people feel said team/player receives too much "hype." Rather than celebrate a player's greatness, we feel the need to tear him down.

Why do we do this?

I understand in today's age of media overkill, the most popular players get an extraordinary amount of coverage, and I understand we media types tend to throw hyperbole around too generously. But to anyone who's tired of reading or hearing about Tebow's on- and off-field greatness, I ask you: Who/what would you rather hear about instead? The prima donnas who view college as an unavoidable stopover on the way to the NFL? The guys who know they're so good that they only play hard when they feel like it? The guys who don't go to class, run afoul of the law and are genuinely jerks?

I'll admit it: I'm fully aboard the Tim Tebow bandwagon, and I couldn't be happier that he's returning for his senior year. In 10 years of covering this sport, I've never had so much fun watching a guy play -- and I think it's because of just how much fun he seems to be having.

I don't know whether Tebow is one of the "greatest" players in history. I wouldn't even know how to quantify that. In truth, he's probably not even the most talented player on his own team. (See Harvin, Percy.)

But that won't stop me from saying the following: Tebow is college football's Michael Jordan.

Never in my lifetime has a player become the undisputed face of the sport. It's a particularly hard feat to achieve considering college athletes only have a three-to-four year window. Much like M.J., Tebow has an aura and personality that enhance his on-field ability. Much like M.J., he's become a role model for millions of kids. And just like M.J., he never ceases to amaze with his ability to take over a game.

That's why I don't get the backlash. Maybe I have amnesia, but I don't remember too many people (besides Knicks fans) complaining about the adulation Jordan received during his heyday. Mostly, fans joined right in on the fawning because they appreciated just what a special talent they were watching.

But I suppose Jordan was fortunate in he played most of his career prior to the rise of the Internet. If there had been blogs in the 1920s, do you think fans would have been complaining about Red Smith's "man crush" on Babe Ruth?

Tebow is hardly the first quarterback to lead his team to victories. We watched Joe Montana and John Elway do it in Super Bowls. We watched Vince Young do it against USC. But Tebow is an entirely different sort of quarterback than any before him. When have you ever seen a QB energize his team by barreling head-first into an opposing defender? When have you ever seen a QB whose most lethal throw is the shovel pass? And when have you ever seen a QB run around the field like a little kid raising his arms at the crowd in excitement?

While Tebow was a household name before arriving on campus -- and even though he won his Heisman last year -- the last three games he's played, and the indelible images that emerged from them, have elevated his legacy to another level: His paint-soaked jersey against Florida State; his mad dash over to the kickoff team after icing the SEC title game against Alabama; and that championship-sealing jump pass against Oklahoma.

Call me cheesy, but I thought the purposefully drawn-out announcement of his return at Florida's championship rally last Sunday was -- for lack of a better word -- awesome. It was just so Tebow. Like I said, the guy always seems like he's having the time of his life, and that was yet another example of him having some fun. You can tell he genuinely enjoys energizing the fans.

Personally, I don't care whether the guy is an "NFL quarterback." I don't care that he doesn't have a laser arm or a "traditional delivery." I just think he's masterful at running the Gators' offense and a heck of a lot of fun to watch. The missionary work, the prison speeches, et al., are added bonuses.

As for his place among the "all-time greats" -- let's wait 'til next year before throwing that kind of stuff around. In the meantime, I hope people will stop and appreciate the opportunity to watch Tebow for another year. Guys like him don't come around too often.

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