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College Football Musings

Takes Tim Tebow and Rich Rodriguez
By Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com
July 27th, 2008

Technically for us, the season has come and gone. Every game has been simulated for our upcoming (August 11th) pre-season preview, and our power rankings have already been posted. But, as we all get excited for the real thing, here are a few thoughts to consider throughout the year:

Was/Is Tim Tebow Really that Magical?

Not many of those who dissent upon Tim Tebow’s choice as the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner will say this – I like Tim Tebow. He appears to be a genuinely good person who can be just another one of the guys at school and aid malnourished children in the Philippines in the same week. As a football player though, he is not the best player in the country. And, in 2007, I do not think he was really that close. He is very unique and I appreciate his toughness and grit, but there are many players in college football who I would rather watch.

The 2006 National Championship, hype that has followed him since high school, the over-covered SEC, an easy early schedule, the twelve game schedule and Urban Meyer riding him just to win the award and feed the hype and attention on his team when he knew he could not win the title again were the biggest contributing factors.

20 rushing TDs and 20 passing TDs is supposed to be a historically magnificent season? Dan LeFevour, a fellow sophomore quarterback from Central Michigan, just scored 19 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown, while throwing for 27 TDs. LeFevour actually passed and rushed for more yards than Tebow, gaining over a full yard more per carry on the ground (6.0 ypc to 4.3 ypc). As hype for the year that Tebow was having swelled, it seemed that CMU decided to see what would happen if they took the ball out of their other players’ hands as well and forced LeFevour to account for all of its touchdowns. This approach led to 11 TDs in the last five of Chippewa’s games.

And Tebow was not so great in his team's four losses. Despite rushing an average of 16 times a game in those games, the Gator quarterback only picked up 184 yards on the ground (2.88 ypc). He also completed 8.6% less of his passes, for 2.5 less yards per attempt. Outside of the impressive performance at South Carolina, Tebow's gaudiest numbers come from games against Western Kentucky, Troy and Florida Atlantic.

Want a real Heisman candidate from last season (who is also returning this year)? How about Armanti Edwards? In just ten games, the Appalachian State quarterback rushed for 1,588 yards and 21 TDs on 6.7 yards per carry, while also throwing for 17 TDs and 1,948 yards in leading his team to the National Championship. Plus, he was even able to beat Michigan!

All Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow proved is that, if the national championship looks out of the question, and you want some attention on the program, you can almost will a player to the Heisman Trophy.

Rich Rodriguez – Saint or Sinner?

Chris Henry and Pacman Jones.

Those two names are synonymous with poor off-the-field behavior as the players have become poster children for Roger Goodell’s NFL-wide crackdown on those who give the league a bad public image.

What most are not talking about, especially in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is that those players also both were recruited by and played for Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia.

Rodriguez has not done much to dissuade us from giving him a bad public image over the last few months either, but, in fairness to him, the question needs to be asked: Is this connection between former players coincidental?

Of course, West Virginia is not proud of what Jones and Henry have done since leaving. They have both repeatedly done despicable acts. Rich Rodriguez clearly recruited the athletes he needed to instantly turn around the program at all costs. Wins at a school like West Virginia mean national attention. The reputation of the program is not as crucial to a smaller program with minimal historical success on the national level.

With Michigan though, it is different. Fans across the country expect Michigan to win and win with some class – without thugs and deviants. Lost in the elation from Wolverine fans of getting a coach who rebuilt a non-traditional power to become an annual top ten contender, is how he did it. Forget questions like, "How are we going to succeed with the spread-option offense in the Big Ten?" and start asking, "How am I going to justify cheering for the next Pacman Jones or Chris Henry?"

There is a flip-side to this argument. At West Virginia, Pacman Jones was on the honor roll and served as a team captain. Chris Henry was permanently kicked off of the team by his coach. In both situations, the argument can be made that Rodriguez was a positive influence on these players' lives, doing what needed to be done to help them grow and mature while in Morgantown. The coach’s guidance may have been one of the few things to help them on the path to a positive lifestyle. Is it his fault that neither returned the favor after leaving the school?

And then there is the middle ground. Unfortunately, both turned sour. This probably could happen to just about any program. One would have to believe that Rodriguez did not intentionally seek the worst kids to build his team. No coach does. The recruiting process is very complicated, and it is not always easy to know enough about each student athlete’s personality and habits to guard against this ever happening. Rodriguez and West Virginia may just be unlucky.

Which is the real answer? I am not sure. It is something to think about and watch over the next several seasons. Hopefully, for everyone's sake, there are no more Chris Henry's or Pacman Jones' anywhere.

Fun Stuff for 2008

Teams that you will love to watch: Clemson, Illinois, Texas Tech, South Florida, Oklahoma State, Indiana, Nevada

Teams that you will despise (aka our pre-season top five): Ohio State, Georgia, Oklahoma, LSU, USC

Most Intriguing teams: Michigan, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Utah, North Carolina, Texas, Minnesota, Arkansas, Mississippi

Overrated Teams: Virginia, Kentucky, Penn State, Oregon, Miami (FL), Arizona State

Underrated Teams: Wake Forest, Utah, Purdue, Pitt, Houston, Maryland

The WIS Playbook is a collection of sports articles generated by authors from within the WhatIfSports community. Contributors will include Paul Bessire and Nicole Green of WhatIfSports.com, other guest writers and even registered WIS users. In the Playbook, you will find unique content that varies from our typical predictions and hypothetical matchups. If you are interested in submitting articles for the Playbook, please contact us through BtB@WhatIfSports.com.

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