Saturday, December 13, 2008

He's a good candidate, but it's a stupid argument

In re Tim Tebow and the Heisman: the case for Tebow just isn't, in my mind, that good. Are you saying that Tebow is better than Bradford because he can run as well as throw? News flash for you: McCoy rushed for more yards than Tebow, and did so despite being his team's only true offensive weapon -- he led his team in rushing. So don't give me the Tebow's-a-great-runner nonsense -- especially since, in the Ole Miss game, in front of his own fans, Tebow got his Gator butt well and truly stuffed when the game was on the line.

Perhaps you're saying that Tebow wins because of his leadership? Hm, let me see, how well did he lead in that Ole Miss game? In fact, how did he play in the games leading up to the Ole Miss game? Here's a hint for you: it's spelled S-U-C...

Meanwhile McCoy took a team with vastly less talent than either Tebow or Bradford had, and has 'em at #3 with half the country convinced they've been robbed out of a national championship shot. And in UT's one loss, it was Colt leading what would have been a comeback for the ages -- without his best receiver, who had gotten hurt and was out of the game -- had he not scored too quickly on the final drive, leaving Harrell and Crabtree time for a miracle of their own, making their game-winning plays while Colt watched helplessly from the sidelines. Again, in the lone UT loss (which came on the road against one of the four or five best teams in the country) Tech beat the UT defense while Colt could only watch; in the Florida loss (which came at home against an Ole Miss team that nobody's going to confuse with a BCS contender), Ole Miss won by stuffing Tebow himself with the game on the line. Tebow came out and made a big dramatic speech after the Ole Miss game, and since that point he has been a leader. But Colt has led his team throughout the whole year. Good for Tebow for taking responsibility and making an apology -- but I prefer a quarterback who doesn't stink up the joint in the first place and has no apologies to make. Have Tebow's backers, who universally point to that press conference, forgotten why that press conference was necessary in the first place??

And the nonsense about how "Florida wouldn't have won the SEC without Tebow" -- does anybody really want to look at the rosters of OU, Florida and UT and try to say with a straight face that those three teams have any business being spoken of in the same breath on a pure talent level? And yet those three teams are, clearly, the three best teams in the country, and there's a genuine controversy over which two of the three should be in the national championship game. UT is in that conversation for one reason and one reason only:

UT has Colt McCoy. Who is the best football player in college football this year.

Now, if you go by stats, you'll go with Bradford, not Tebow. If you go with dual-threat capacity, you'll go with McCoy, not Tebow. If you go with biggest-difference-to-his-team, you'll go with McCoy, not Tebow.

But if you're from the SEC, then you think that your conference has some sort of divine right to be genuflected to by all comers, and you just know that the right answer has to be Tebow. And so you resort to appeals to "the intangibles," and you use Tebow's I-may-not-be-able-to-outplay-Ole-Miss-but-I-know-exactly-how-to-play-the-gullible-media news conference to turn the Ole Miss debacle into an argument in Tebow's favor...

...and you'll use dumb arguments like this one, from ESPN:

Tebow's statistics are overshadowed by those of more prolific Big 12 passers such as McCoy, Bradford and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell. But if the award were determined by strength of schedule, Tebow would be a landslide winner. In 13 games this season, Tebow faced eight of the country's top-30 defenses. In those eight games, Tebow completed 63 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and no interceptions. Nine of his 12 touchdown runs also came against top-30 defenses. Conversely, Bradford faced only two of the country's top-30 defenses, and nine that ranked 66th or worse. McCoy didn't face a defense ranked better than 65th and had his way with eight defenses ranked 86th or worse.
Notice that this whole argument is intended to say that Tebow's statistics shouldn't matter -- and yet it's an entirely statistical argument. What do you mean, ESPN, by a "top-30 defense"? You mean a defense that is statistically in the top thirty. And I'll guarantee you that you're hoping nobody will notice that all those "top-30" defenses Tebow was facing, played against the Ivy League South offenses of the SEC, whereas the fact that the Big XII South defenses were statistically ranked lower than the SEC defenses had a lot to do with the fact that, for example, Baylor had to play Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and Oklahoma State. If you let Baylor play against Auburn and Georgia and LSU and Vanderbilt, and you made Alabama play against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and Ok State, there's a pretty good chance that your statistics would tell you at the end of your four-game schedule that Baylor was a better defense than Alabama.

Do you see my point? "Ignore Tebow's statistics; they're worthless unless you look at whom he had to play against," says ESPN, and then proceeds to say, "He played against great defenses, which we know because their statistics were better -- and good luck waiting for hell to freeze over if you expect us to point out that those defenseive statistics are worthless unless you look at whom those defenses had to play against. Because, you see, we have the intellectual integrity of Bill Clinton. You got a problem with that?"

How about: yes, I do.

Look, Tebow's a great player. It's just that he picked a bad year to go for his second Heisman. Last year he had a weak field to go up against, and deserved to win. This year he improved his game once he decided to get serious about it -- but the competition he's up against this year is at a completely different level, and the matchups are just wrong for him. If you value stats -- and Tebow's backers last year wanted to make sure everybody knew that stats were the only thing that ought to matter -- then Bradford whoops him like a stepchild. If you instead pull a switcheroo and go for leadership or dual-threat or difference-made-to-team, then Tebow can't compete with McCoy. No matter which set of standards you decide to use in order to land the Heisman for Tebow, one of the Big XII q-b's beats Tebow by that very standard.

Sorry, Timmy boy, but that's the way it is. Not that you might not win anyway, given the strength of the SEC myth. But you won't deserve it.


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