Tim Tebow Joins ESPN, SEC Network as College Football Analyst

Tim Tebow is back, sort of. The former Florida quarterback has joined ESPN and will be a college football analyst for the SEC Network. Tebow will appear as a member of a new pregame show–SEC Nation–that premieres on August 28, 2014.

Tim Tebow, Florida Gators

Tebow won’t be restricted to appearing only on SEC Nation. As a member of the ESPN team, Tebow will also appear on the main network itself and also contribute to ESPN Radio and various other college football-related platforms. He won’t have to wait until August 28 as he’ll make his first appearance on January 6 as part of ESPN’s coverage of the national championship.

The former Gators’ star expressed his excitement over the opportunity while mentioning he still has a certain goal he hopes to accomplish again.

“When I was 6 years old, I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be a part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC,” said Tebow.

The biggest question surrounding Tebow as an analyst will be how critical he can be. Always known as a leader during his time as a football player, Tebow also defines the nice guy persona. Whether he can be critical of teams, coaches, and even players remains to be seen. For instance, what does he say if the Gators’ offense struggles as it has in recent years? The guess is a fair analysis, but we’ll need to see it for ourselves to determine if this is a career for Tebow or just a short-term gig.

In case you’re wondering if we’ll ever see Tebow in the NFL again, well, that’s up in the air, but his contract with ESPN allows him to pursue the opportunity if it arises.

We’ve Made It to August; College Football (and Hope) Commence

We wait far too long for college football to begin. The fan starts to wait the moment the national championship game comes to a conclusion. There are other sports to fill our time, but they don’t fill the void. They are stopgaps and as much as we love them, we always come back to college football. (Unless you’re a college basketball fan first, but then I can’t explain your existence.)

Jeff Driskel Florida Gators

There are countdowns upon countdowns–100 days, 50 days, 1 month. The real one begins in August. Fall camps have started and games are on the horizon. It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year. Or it would be if it weren’t for this infernal heat. I love Florida and all it has to offer (even its copious amounts of crazy), but even I have my limits when having to walk outside in a button-down and khakis. My Canadian blood curses me every time. (Insert obligatory Jesse Palmer mention here.)

So here we are–August. It’s full of practice reports, predictions, trash talk, and apparently appendectomies. You don’t want to enter August with the news that one of your players will miss a few weeks of practice due to the removal of his appendix. You don’t want that player to be your starting quarterback. You don’t want the quarterback to be the only one on the roster with experience because that other guy now calls one of the Carolinas home.

It’s an entirely different article in itself, but this is the year of Jeff Driskel. Not in a year of Chris Leak sort of way, as Leak had on his way to a national championship in his final season. But in the way that Driskel could be made or broken during this, his junior season. Driskel could be on his way to that Chris Leak year. He could also go the way of a, let’s say, Terry Dean. For those keeping score at home, 2006 Leak > 1993 Dean. So maybe just maybe it is in a year of Chris Leak sort of way, or maybe Driskel is one season away from that 2006-type run. On the other side of the coin, maybe there is a youngster in the wings waiting to pounce and take over.

(To be clear, Dean was not a bad quarterback by any stretch of the imagination. However, there was someone else on the depth chart that became the legend Dean did not. Driskel could end up with a historical significance very close to that of Dean’s–a serviceable QB on teams with heaps of talent. That’s not an awful thing, but it’s also not what we want and most likely not what Driskel wants. While the Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow spots are reserved for, well, Wuerffel and Tebow, Driskel has a shot at putting himself alongside someone like a Leak. It’ll take a leap of sorts and even more than the heaps of talent the Florida Gators may already possess, but let’s be clear that 2013 Driskel would much rather resemble 2006 Leak than 1993, or even 1994, Dean. It’s more than just the individual numbers, it’s the end result of the season.)

There will be others to watch on offense, and defense as well. The Gators are sure to produce a star or two or ten, but there is also the opportunity for disappointment. We don’t take disappointment well here in Gator Nation. We never have, but we used to be better at it. Actually, that’s not true at all. The truth is that we used to be quieter about it. All fanbases did. Before the Internet explosion and message boards and Facebook and Twitter, we complained to our close personal circle of family, friends, etc. Today, we live in a world in which we complain to everyone. Disappoint came against Georgia and again against Louisville last season, and we let the world know about it.

It could come again this season. While an undefeated season is a possibility, it’s not likely. I would venture a guess that no one out there fully expects an unblemished record. As much as we all may hope for it, we are realistic and think 11-2 is entirely possible again. If those two at the end of that record come, you’ll be sure we’ll talk about them. There’s nothing wrong with that–every fanbase does it (even if at times it feels like we may do it more)–but for now we ignore the possible disappointment. We ignore it because it’s August and we have hope.

Hope is a dangerous thing in sports, but it’s also what makes a fan a fan. Every season I have hope; some seasons more than others, but hope all the same. But look at it this way for a moment: I was 33 years old at the end of the 2012 season. In those 33 years, the Gators won three national championships. Not a bad percentage at all (unless you’re Alabama of recent years), but three ultimate prizes in 33 years. In that same time, FSU took home only two trophies and Tennessee managed only one. Yet, we fans have hope.

Hope despite a quarterback with a future that could go in either direction. Hope despite a largely new running game (although, let’s be honest, we’re all pretty excited about it). Hope despite a group of receivers that need to step up possibly more than any other unit on the entire squad. Hope despite plenty of new starters and faces on defense. Hope despite a talented kick returner lost for the season.

I, personally, hope for Driskel’s progression. I hope for big things from Matt Jones and an explosive rookie campaign from Kelvin Taylor. I hope for a go-to receiver or two. I hope for a dependable offensive line. I hope for a frightening defensive line. I hope for consistent tackling from the linebackers. I hope for All-American seasons from Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy. I hope to finally be able to spell Loucheiz correctly on the first try. I hope for 10 wins, at least. I hope for an SEC Championship Game appearance. I hope for a season to be proud of. I hope. We all do.

The State of the Swamp – 6/11/13

A look at the past week in the land of the Florida Gators.

The State of the Swamp is a day late and it looks like that was a good thing. Sometimes the star align and missing a (self-imposed) deadline works out. There is big news sweeping the sports world and Gator Nation and it focuses on no one other than Tim Tebow.

Tim Tebow - New England Patriots

Tebow has signed a two-year deal with the New England Patriots. The former Florida star will get another shot at the NFL, and with one of the league’s top franchises. Only one week after we were led to believe Tebow’s NFL career may have come to an end, it’s been given a jumpstart by Bill Belichick and the Pats. Tebow has a great chance to make the roster, though at what position remains to be seen. There is something about his drive and determination that made three NFL seasons seem like too few. Tebow may never make it as a full-time quarterback in the league, but Belichick and New England will give him the opportunity to play the game at the highest level again. There will be those in favor of this and, as always with Tebow, there will be detractors, but there will be no end to Tebowmania. (At least not anytime soon.)

J.C. Jackson makes the right choice, commits to Florida. After deciding that Florida State wasn’t the right fit, Jackson–a cornerback out of Immokalee, FL (Immokalee)–flipped to the Gators. ($) Florida was always on the top of Jackson’s list, but his train was derailed temporarily. He has now made the decision he was expected to make all along. The Gators’ pursuit of Jackson and the fact that Florida plays in the SEC were deciding factors for the CB. (And why wouldn’t they be?) He maintains that this latest commitment is solid, but we’ll rest easy come National Signing Day. Not that I’m no confident in his commitment, but…well…recruiting…

Add another to the list; Taven Bryan is the latest Gator. Florida went much farther than Immokalee to nab their latest commitment. On Tuesday, Bryan–an offensive tackle from Casper, WY (Natrona County)–was added to the 2014 class. At 6’5″, 250 lbs., Bryan has the height to play on the line at the next level, but needs to add a good deal of bulk. At 250, SEC defensive lines will eat him up. At 350, he could be a valuable asset in the nation’s top conference. Bryan has plenty of offers from out west, but decided to make the trek to Gainesville. And I can’t really blame him.

Keep an eye on Adoree’ Jackson. He won’t make his decision known until National Signing day, but keep an eye on one of the nation’s top athletes. Jackson is another cornerback very interested in the Gators’ football program ($) and also Florida’s recent men’s track and field outdoor championship. He would like to compete in both at the college level and Florida’s success with both programs is a plus. There are plenty of others hoping to land the star, but the Gators are among the few that stand a real chance. Jackson wants to visit Florida for the Gators’ final regular season game against Florida State.

Scottie Wilbekin suspended, again. The Gators’ point guard has violated team rules again and has subsequently been suspended again. Wilbekin missed the first three games of the 2012-13 season due to a suspension, meaning this one could see him out for more time. Billy Donovan can’t be happy with the PG and fans aren’t either, although many think this might mean a clearer path to playing time for super recruit Kasey Hill.

With the 20th pick in the 2013 MLB Draft the Detroit Tigers select junior pitcher Jonathon Crawford. Not expected to return for his senior season, Crawford’s fate was sealed when the Tigers drafted him in the first round. In other news, the Boston Red Sox drafted Gators’ starting quarterback Jeff Driskel in the 29th round. While Crawford is leaving, I’m guessing Driskel will remain in Gainesville for a while longer.

The men’s track and field squad wins the NCAA Outdoor Championship. Mentioned ever so briefly above, I have to give a round of applause to the men’s track team for bringing home the trophy for the second year in a row. Good job gentlemen. Go Gators!

The State of the Swamp – 6/3/13

A look at the past week in the land of the Florida Gators.

The coverage of the Florida Gators’ baseball team has been nothing better than nonexistent this season. Not from the many other sites out there that update you with a frequency that rivals the releases of new The Fast and the Furious movies, but from the staff here at The Bull Gator. We went hard one season ago when it came to baseball coverage, but couldn’t find our footing just one year later. The season wasn’t missed, it just wasn’t covered. So it’s sad to take a dive into orange and blue baseball at a time when the season is over.

Florida Gators Baseball Season Ends

On Saturday, the Gators were eliminated from the NCAA Regionals after a 5-4 loss to Valparaiso. Florida gave up a 4-1 lead and with it their season. With such roster turnover from last season to this (and a number of injuries), it was hard to imagine the Gators truly being in the hunt for the championship, but we like to dream. This isn’t how we wanted the dream to end, but one we must accept. Go Gators. Until next season.

Leron Black is one of the most sought after recruits in the 2014 basketball class, and the Gators want him. Black still has a number of teams on his list of possibilities, but Florida is among those pushing the hardest for him at the moment. Some think the recent commitment of point guard Chris Chiozza has given the Gators the edge, but that may not be the case. Black and Chiozza play together on the same AAU squad and Black only has good things to say about Chiozza, but his decision won’t be swayed. Black wants to take visits to his top choices and go wherever his heart and his faith lead him. If it is Gainesville, Black would fit into Billy Donovan’s system as a combo forward that likes to run.

I didn’t know you could be named a “Great Floridian,” but count Steve Spurrier among them. The former Gator great–as both a player and coach–was presented with the honor last week in The Swamp. To put myself even further out of touch, Tim Tebow, Derrick Brooks and Tony Dungy have all been named Great Floridians as well. In fact, Spurrier was the 71st individual to receive the designation. I suppose this is to be expected when I spend more time reading about Serie A than I do about my own area. Anyway, Spurrier is well deserving of the honor for all he accomplished during his various football-related times in the state.

Hey look, it’s Bam Hardmon. On Thursday, Hardmon joined the Idaho coaching staff, being named the Vandals’ defensive line coach. The former Gators’ linebacker is trying to make a name for himself among the coaching ranks. After spending three seasons under Ron Zook at Illinois, Hardmon moved on to Charleston Southern to coordinate special team and coach the outside linebackers. Hardmon and Idaho head coach Paul Petrino spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons at Illinois together. Best of luck to Hardmon as he continues to further his career in football.

I smiled when Jeff Demps was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even if it meant the former Gators’ star would never suit up for my NFL team of choice. Demps continues to pursue his track career first and foremost, even with the Bucs hoping he’ll one day join the team. Tampa Bay is supportive of what Demps does on the track though and seems fine with the speedster pursuing that dream. We don’t know if we’ll ever see Demps in a Bucs’ uniform–or any other NFL uniform for that matter–but we should be seeing him in some of the world’s largest track events in the coming years. One way or another, news about Demps succeeding in one of the sports he excels at will keep coming.

And finally, the story I couldn’t leave off the list. The Tim Tebow train was kickstarted once again when this piece came out last week. There are those that believe Tebow’s NFL career has come to an end, those that won’t ever go as far as to speak such blasphemy, and those that honestly don’t care at this point. Take any side and you’re sure to find yourself in a debate with those that have taken the others. Regardless, one fact remains: Tebow is currently a free agent and there is more than one reason why. Among them is the belief among those inside the NFL coaching and scouting ranks that he can’t succeed as a quarterback at the professional level. Then there’s also the media storm that comes with Tebow wherever he goes. Tebow–through no fault of his own–was considered a distraction during the 2012 as a member of the New York Jets. Although I would argue the Jets as a whole were the distraction. There’s still a chance Tebow ends up somewhere. A team out there may invite him to camp and it’s hard to imagine he’s given up the dream just yet, but we are unlikely to see Tebow as a 16-game starter in the league. With each passing day, we may not even see him on a roster. Wherever Tebow ends up–in the NFL or not–we’ll always have the orange and blue days and moments like this to remember.

Mike Gillislee Caps Off Florida Gators Career With Magical Season

Okay, so I admit using the word “magical” is a little much, but do you expect any less from me? First of all, it’s 6:00 in the morning as I write this. Second, I have a five-month-old child, which is basically the equivalent of having a drunk person that has lost the ability to speak in your house at all times. And finally, we all really do want to believe it was magical.

Mike Gillislee - Florida Gators

Mike Gillislee set lofty goals for himself entering the 2012 college football season–1,500 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns–and while the Florida Gators’ senior didn’t reach those goals, he did hit a milestone we’re all proud of. Gillislee capped off the regular season with 140 yards on the ground and two touchdowns against the Florida State Seminoles to give him 1,104 yards and 10 TDs on the season. Not only did he become the first true Gators’ running back to break the 1,000-yard mark since Ciatrick Fason did in 2004, but he also became the first to carry the ball 200 times or more and rush for 10 or more touchdowns since Fason. Tim Tebow did both and Trey Burton and Percy Harvin found the end zone 10 or more times, but Gillislee is the first running back to do it since Ron Zook patrolled the Gators’ sidelines. And now is as good a time as any to quickly move on from Zook and forget I even mentioned him.

Back to the wonders of the Gators’ rediscovered running game. Gillislee was a bright spot in a season that was about as odd as odd can be. But, as we saw against Florida State, he wasn’t alone. Overall, there weren’t many wow moments to the running game outside of Gillislee, but that’s also because Florida decided early on that he would be the go-to back as long as he remained healthy. Sure, Jeff Driskel has his moments and Burton had a few of those plays that made you believe in his aura once again, but the running game belonged to Gillislee. Although, we did see glimpses of the future and it made us smile.

For Gillislee though, we don’t know what that future is. He has one game remaining as a Florida Gator. It’s easy to imagine him getting plenty of carries against the Louisville Cardinals in the Sugar Bowl. He was the workhorse all season for an 11-1 Gators’ squad and both Will Muschamp and Brent Pease will want him to go out with a bang. Maybe not a Tebow-sized exit, but a good one all the same.

That game will bring an end to a career we hoped for more from, but got all we ever wanted during one final season. Years prior, we imagined a final season during which Gillislee would finally become the number one running back. Saying he didn’t disappoint would be an understatement. When the offensive line stepped up its play, Gillislee was great. When they were average, he was above it. When they were down, he was still the shining spot. Yes, he had better games than others and some that were nothing to praise, but we’re looking at the overall picture here.

We congratulate the Florida Gators on their successful 2012 season, but we single out Mike Gillislee. There are many reasons we’re looking forward to the Sugar Bowl, but watching Gillislee one final time is very high on the list.

Preview: Florida Gators Vs. Kentucky Wildcats; Gators Look To Replicate Magic Of Seasons Past

The Florida Gators play host to the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in an SEC game that has had a very familiar outcome of the years. For the last 25 seasons, the Gators have won this contest and the last four haven’t been close.

2008 marked the second-straight season during which the teams would meet in October instead of September. It confused those of us that don’t do well with change, but the result wouldn’t deviate from what we were used to. The Gators scored 63 points on only 446 yards of offense. Not that 446 yards is a small number, but 63 points is usually accompanied by much more. The first half was good to the Gators. Florida was up 28-0 at the end of the first 15 and headed to the locker room with a 42-3 advantage. A redshirt freshman quarterback that went by the name John Brantley even got into the action, finding David Nelson for a 38-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

The game would return to September in 2009 and the Gators would get out of the gate on fire yet again. 31-0 after the first quarter had us believing we could see records set on that day. Urban Meyer called off the dogs though and Florida would only add 10 more throughout the final 45 minutes to win 41-7. Senior quarterback Tim Tebow would only attempt 10 passes during the game, but would rush for 123 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Gators to victory. Brantley, now a redshirt sophomore, would come in late once again and add another fourth quarter touchdown pass, this time to Riley Cooper. This was the famous Tebow concussion game. For many long minutes, as Tebow lay motionless on the field, we thought the season and even his Florida career may be over. We all know now, it wasn’t.

Before the game in 2010, Florida and Kentucky came to an agreement that touchdowns would only count if scored by players wearing the number eight. 60 minutes and nine touchdowns later, both teams had lived up to the bargain. Fortunately for the Gators, their No. 8s were just a tad better. Freshman Trey Burton was introduced to the nation, scoring six times. Burton ran for five touchdowns and caught another (from Brantley; for those keeping track at home, that’s touchdown passes in three consecutive Kentucky games for the quarterback). Jeremy Brown – wearing No. 8 on defense – even got into the action with a 52-yard interception return for a score. The Wildcats had a solid No. 8 of their own – Chris Matthews – but could only get him into the end zone twice as the Gators prevailed 48-14.

2011 would be the game to rival all rushing games. The Gators would put up 405 yards on the ground in the 48-10 victory. Jeff Demps would lead the way with 157 rushing yards. He was followed by Chris Rainey who also went over 100 with 105. The current starter – Mike Gillislee – came close to joining the club with 84. Overall, seven non-quarterbacks would get carries. Brantley would only need to attempt 14 passes, but he would again get his one touchdown, a first quarter toss to Gerald Christian.

This time around should be no different. I hate saying “should be” because that generally means it will be different. The Gators need a victory and seem poised to delivery one. The Wildcats aren’t expected to make much noise this season and shouldn’t pose much of a threat; however, we’ve all seen games before where Florida has won, but in far from spectacular fashion. This is that game where spectacular fashion would go oh so far. Bye week ahead followed by LSU. A big win will carry momentum into the coming weeks.

We’ve seen a team improving right before our eyes and are excited for the future. Today isn’t about the future, it’s about the Kentucky Wildcats. Another Saturday, another win on the horizon. Go Gators!

It’s August 21, Do You Know Who Your Starting Quarterback Is?

The Florida Gators don’t. Or if they do, they’re not telling us.

Speculation has reached new levels as everyone eagerly awaits the announcement of the starting quarterback. For years, it has been a clean handoff. From Chris Leak to Tim Tebow to John Brantley, it was obvious (painfully at times) who the next starter would be. That appeared to be the case when Jeff Driskel originally committed to Florida; one day the job would be his. Then Jacoby Brissett committed as well, opening up a flood of questions for when the time came.

That time has come and, if you’re like me and subscribe to far too many Google Alerts, your inbox is full with speculation. Until Will Muschamp announces his choice (or Brent Pease’s choice, depending on what you want to believe) we’ll have to answer the question ourselves.

So who’s your guy? Which one do you want to see take the first snap? The majority of snaps? Who you got?

Who do you have starting at QB for the Gators?

    Jeff Driskel (42%, 48 Votes)

    Jacoby Brissett (31%, 35 Votes)

    Tim Tebow (12%, 14 Votes)

    The Combo with Fries and a Coke (12%, 13 Votes)

    Just Run the Ball (2%, 2 Votes)

    A Player to be Named (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 113

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Jeff Demps Likely To Sign With NFL Team Today

Former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps is about to resume his playing career, according to the agency that represents Demps.

The former speedster Demps had quite an off-season this year, as he won a Silver medal in the London Olympics for the Stars and Stripes as a reserve. After the Gators’ football season last year, reports were that Demps was going to pursue a track career. Now, that objective seems to have shifted back to football.

It isn’t yet clear as to which team Demps is going to sign with. Some say the in-state Tampa Bay Bucs are interested. Others say a possible reunion with his Gators teammate Tim Tebow may be in order with the New York Jets.

Demps played his entire Gators career as a running back, but that’s not necessarily his NFL position. His speed could translate into being a slot receiver, especially because he may be too injury prone to handle the wear and tear of the NFL running back.

Demps’ decision should come out soon, and his decision should first be announced on this Twitter account.

Florida Gators Video Of The Day: Tim Tebow And Eric Berry Collision

The Gators Video of the Day (GVOD) features, you guessed it, videos relating to the Florida Gators. They could be Gators athletes or homemade videos made by fans like ourselves. If you have any suggestions for GVOD, email me at evandagator@gmail.com or TBG at onegameback@gmail.com. We will try our best to live up to the “of the day” part of the title.

Superman against Superman. The Offensive Player of the Year vs. the Defensive Player of the Year. Florida vs. Tennessee. That’s what many thought when they saw the Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Eric Berry collision.

Many Gators fans say this play was their favorite of Tebow’s career. To you, what was so great about Tebow’s and Berry’s collision? Was it the caliber of the two players who would become Heisman candidates? Or was it just the sheer force and momentum that both players had at the moment of collision?