ESPN Ranks Tim Tebow as the No. 76 College Football Player of All-Time

Jeremy Klump

Before going in on how bad ESPN’s 150 greatest players in college football's 150-year history ranking of former Florida Gators' legend and top 10 college football player of all time, Tim Tebow’s ranking is, I just want it to be known whenever a rankings list like this is released, people will always complain. No one will ever truly be happy with a rankings list and that is okay because it is impossible to have everyone agree with you.

However, I am not complaining here, I am simply pointing out that having Tebow as the No. 76 overall greatest college football player of all-time is one of the biggest travesties I have ever seen. 

There simply aren't 75 players in the history of college football that were better and/or more important than Tebow.

Let’s get this out of the way: Tebow was a bad NFL quarterback. He had some magic at times, mainly his walk-off touchdown pass to upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. 'Tebow Time' was fun, but Tebow never progressed into the NFL passer he needed to be. 

But, why would that matter? 

Tebow's NFL performance has zero to do with what he did in college and should have zero impact on his ranking as a college football player. It is clear that whoever had Tebow at No. 76 was thinking too much about his failed NFL career and not enough about his historic college career.

At Florida, you could easily make an argument that Tim Tebow had the greatest college career of all-time. He ended his career with 9,285 yards passing, 88 touchdowns, and only 16 interceptions. Along with his impressive passing numbers, Tebow’s rushing numbers just add to his greatness. He left college with 2,947 rushing yards and astonishing 57 touchdowns. That is 12,232 total yards and 145 total touchdowns in college.

What makes his numbers even better is the fact that the two-time first-team All-American (2007 and 2008) helped Florida win two National Championships. The first one was his freshman season in 2006 where he threw and ran for a touchdown in the big game. The second one was his junior season where he threw for 231 yards and two scores and also added 109 rushing yards on 22 carries.

Tebow also won a Heisman Trophy in his sophomore season, one of his three nominations. He threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns while adding 895 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. 

His 2007 season where he had 4,181 total yards and 55 total touchdowns in 13 games is was one of the greatest seasons ever in college football history. He was the first player in FBS history to throw and run for 20 touchdowns in a season

Tebow was the sixth player of all time to finish top five in Heisman voting three times.

To put his rushing touchdowns into perspective that season, Herschel Walker, who ESPN had ranked No. 2 overall, 74 spots over Tebow, had 18 rushing touchdowns in 11 games (the best total of his career in 1981). If you broke that down on a per game total, and gave Walker the two extra games that Tebow had, he was on pace to run for 21 touchdowns - two less than Tebow.

Along with the Heisman, All-American honors, and two national championships, Tebow was also first-team All-SEC three years in a row (2007-09), won the Maxwell Award twice (2007-08), and won the Davey O’Brien Award in 2007.

I could go on for hours about Tebow's statistics and awards to make a case for why he is a top 10 college football player of all-time, but Tebow’s stats and awards don’t even tell the full story of his greatness in college.

Tebow had all the talent in the world, but it wasn’t just his talent that made him a top 10 college football player of all-time. It was his determination to win and his elite leadership ability. 

College football may never see another figure like Tebow. Yes, Florida had a ton of talent around him. Yes, Florida had Urban Meyer, one of the best head coaches ever. However, it was Tebow who made it all work. Tebow squeezed the orange and got every ounce of juice out of it. His passion and will to win was truly special to watch and he always left it all out on the field.

His speech after Florida lost to Ole Miss in 2008 got all the hype, and deservedly so, but Tebow walking the walk after talking the talk was one of the greatest accomplishments in college football history. He was snubbed on winning his second Heisman Trophy in 2008, but he didn’t care. He went about his business instead. He cared more about winning and that’s exactly what he did. He led his team to their second National Championship since he had walked on campus.

There are many people, including myself, who feel that Tebow is in fact the greatest college football player of all-time. However, that debate is up for discussion another time. What is not up for discussion is how bad ESPN’s ranking of Tebow truly was. 

His No. 76 ranking was a slap in the face to Tebow and more importantly, college football fans. Tebow is a top 10 college football player of all-time, and there is no debating that.

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