Besides his Heisman Trophy run and Florida's quest for their third National Championship in four years, among the hottest topics this season will be Tim Tebow's place in college football history.
Like him or not, there is no doubt that Tebow's awards, trophies, and statistics are already there for him to be considered the greatest - regardless of what era he played. And think, he still has a full year left with arguably the most talented team we have seen in college football for some time. And by some time and to the dismay of a one Kirk Herbstreit, I'm talking about since the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers - lead by a QB named Tommie Frazier.
Naturally, I can't help but want to dive right into this one. It's Tim Tebow vs. Tommie Frazier.
Tommie Frazier (1992-1995)
Record as starter: 33-3 (91.7%)
Passing: 250-509 (49.1%), 4,003 yards, 47 TD, 18 INT
Rushing: 386 carries, 2,263 yards (5.9 ypc), 36 TD
Tim Tebow (2006-present)
Record as starter: 22-5 (81.4%)
Passing: 444-681 (65.8%), 6,159 yards, 67 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: 475 carries, 2,037 yards (4.2 ypc), 43 TD
I could get a little more analytical here by doing some projected numbers for Tebow since he has one more full year to accumulate more statistics. However, I think you understand the idea that two different offenses in two different eras makes comparing statistics nearly worthless. The one statistic that is independent of what era you played in is also the most important one - record as a starter. If Tebow and the Gators finished the season at 14-0 in 2009, his record as a starter would be 36-5 or 87.8%, which is still not Frazier's 33-3 record.
With that in mind, Frazier's three losses came at the hands of unranked Iowa State (10-19 on November 14, 1992 in his third career start), #3 Florida State (January 1, 1993 in the Orange Bowl), and to #1 Florida State (January 1, 1994 in the Orange Bowl/National Championship game). The point here is that two of his three losses came in his freshman season.
Tebow's five career losses have come at the hands of unranked Auburn at home, @ #2 LSU, #19 Georgia (in Jacksonville), unranked Michigan (Capital One Bowl) - all in the 2007 season - as well as to unranked Mississippi @ home in the 2008 season.
And when comparing tough non-conference games, neither has much of upper hand on the other. Frazier's most accomplished victories came vs. a #24 West Virginia team in the kickoff classic and #13 UCLA at home - both in the 1994 season and both were the only the ranked teams Frazier defeated in the non-conference schedule. Tebow's only non-conference victory against ranked teams have so far come from Florida State - once in 2008.
In big games on a national stage, Frazier never disappointed. Even in one of his three career losses (which was in the 1993 National Championship game,) Frazier still received his first of THREE MVP trophies in a National Championship game. In 1995, Frazier's Huskers defeated four Top 10 teams by an average of almost 31 points/game - the closest game was 23 points @ #7 Colorado. However, Frazier's Heisman Trophy snub in 1995 to Eddie George could perhaps be the glaring difference between these two players when fans compare the two a few decades down the road.
Tebow's most memorable big game came when he was named the 'Offensive' MVP of the 2009 BCS title game vs. Oklahoma. However, although Tebow's Florida teams have won two championships (only one as a starter) under his watch, his Florida teams have simply not dominated like Frazier's Nebraska teams have - at least not yet. In his Heisman Trophy year of 2007, Tebow's Gators lost FOUR games. In fact, in the two years the Gators have won the championship with Tebow, not one of those seasons ended in an undefeated season. Frazier's Huskers lost ONE game in his final three years with the team as the primary starter. Tebow's Gators have lost SIX games in his three years and FIVE games in two years with him as the starter.
I'm sure if I was on the Tim Tebow side of this debate then I'd be factoring in more of his freshman 2006 season. However, Tebow never started a game that season in Florida's championship run and therefore, I argue that the Florida Gators of 2006 are still champions - with or without him.
This debate will have more of a definitive outcome once the 2009 season is completed. And if all goes according to the experts' predictions, expect Tebow's accolades to only grow. However, I'm not at all ready to concede this argument to the Tebow supporters out there that he is the best to ever play the position based solely on what he's done thus far. Unfortunately, intangibles can't be factored in and my crystal ball hasn't begun working yet for the 2009 season so it's impossible to declare one better than the other at this juncture.
So where does this leave us with one year left in Tim Tebow's career? Let's recap...
- Tommie Frazier won TWO National Championships, THREE National Championship MVP awards, and ZERO Heisman Trophy awards.
- Tim Tebow has won ONE National Championship (as a starter and TWO as a member of the Gators team), ONE Heisman Trophy award, and ONE National Championship MVP award.
- Tommie Frazier's career record as a starter was 33-3 with only one loss in his final three seasons.
- Tim Tebow's career record as a starter is currently 22-5.