Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Tim Tebow Myth(?)

As we roll through July, with visions set upon sleeping through August, the college football hype machine is beginning to rev itself up, ready to flatten the universe like a Zamboni to ice. One of the main topics this offseason has been Super T_T, Tim Tebow. Whether it's Florida fans hoisting him atop their proverbial shoulders and bronzing his helmet for their Hall of Fame, or the lame lame lame lame lame lame ass reincarnation of the Chuck Norris turned Jack Bauer, now Tim Tebow, jokes about invincibility, you've had plenty of Tebowtainment. He's loved in Gainesville, but hated in every college football city in the South. Would you have it any differently, though? Tim Tebow is what college football is all about - a legend on his campus, and despised by his opponents. He's a handsome, promising athlete, but in Knoxville, Baton Rouge, Athens, and so forth, he's a "fagz0r d00d."

Regardless of the social opinions on Tebow, there is a real argument about how well he played in 2006, and how well he will play in 2007. There is no answer to the latter, because nobody knows for sure how well the spread option will work in the SEC on a weekly basis. Basically, we all have to be members of the Waitnsee Tribe.

However, the former discussion of his 2006 accomplishments is what has become heated, and needs to be addressed. Florida fans will point to his amazing passer rating in SEC play, his 5+ yards per carry, and his high school passing records. The opposition will make way too many fullback jokes, which is so 2006, it's basically Borat. So, let's dig into Tebow's 2006 stats.

Passing: 22/33 for 358 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT, 201.7 rating
Rushing: 89 carries for 469 yards, 5.3 ypc, 8 TD
2 sore years from headset

Those numbers seem pretty good for a true freshman in spot duty. But are they really indicators of how well Tebow will quarterback the Gators through a tough SEC slate? I don't think so, and I'll show you why.

In 8 SEC Games + SECCG: 5/10 for 75 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 59 carries for 317 yards, 5.4 ypc, 4 TD

In 2 Games Against UCF and W. Carolina: 16/21 for 281 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 15 carries for 109 yards, 7.3 ypc, 2 TD

In 8 Games Against Top 40 Defenses:
4/5 for 60 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 50 carries for 191 yards, 3.8 ypc, 5 TD

What do I find interesting from these numbers? First and foremost, the sample sizes are way, way, way (did I say way?) too small to draw any stable conclusions either way. However, I do want to point out a few things.

1. Of Tebow's 33 passes, 63.6% of them were against Central Florida and Western Carolina. 78.5% of his passing yards came in those two games. The statistical basis that Florida's fans point to for Tebow's immediate success is rooted in 2 games against their weakest foes.

2. Tebow ran well in the SEC, but he didn't throw enough to really get a feel for his passing abilities. He completed only 50% of his passes in the SEC, but 80% against good defenses overall. He was 1/5 against Vanderbilt and South Carolina, two of the lesser defenses in the SEC in 2006.

3. Against top 40 defenses, Tebow's ypc dropped by a yard and a half. It makes sense, really, as most runners have lesser stats against better competition. 3.8 ypc is nothing to hang your hat on, though.

4. Tebow did not attempt a pass against 5 teams: Southern Miss (season opener), Tennessee, Arkansas, Auburn, and Arkansas. To point out the obvious, there are 4 SEC teams listed there. That's 44% of the SEC games he played.

With those 4 main points, I feel that anybody who says Tebow will be good or bad, has no idea. There simply isn't enough enough data to make that argument statistically. He didn't throw against 4 of the 9 SEC teams he played! Most of his passing stats were accumulated against a D-1 doormat and a D-1AA team. So, the jury is out, and this post gives you no conclusion. Like Memento, you decide what happens.

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