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Head Games

The thing I will remember most about Tim Tebow getting knocked out is how UF linemen tried to shake him and grab Tebow's hand, with Tebow offering no resistance. But a lot of people will remember this;

"And then I looked at him and said, 'It's great to be a Florida Gator.' And he winked at me and said, 'It's great to be a Gator.' "

Tebow was possibly out like a light. Before he left the field in Kentucky, he never waved to the crowd and spent more time throwing up than talking to teammates. Yet, Urban Meyer would have you believe that Tebow was winking at him while laying on the ground. As much as I want to believe this, the idea Tebow was that aware is almost unimaginable to me. But I was not on the field. You were not on the field. Separated by the fourth wall, we never really know what is going on, even those of us who have played the game at various levels. If Tebow comes back healthy (whenever that is) or confirms the story, it is another chapter in Tebow's book of tall tales. As it is, the story is an Alamo moment and our boy will fight for us another day.

I bring this up because several comments on the story below bring up the possibility that Meyer has already made his decision on who starts at LSU. I tend not to believe that because if doctors clear Tebow, the kid is going to play. As a senior, in a game that means so much to him (the 2006 jump pass, the 2007 breakdown, the 2008 momentum swinger), how can Tebow be held out if he's cleared? As much as I would like Tebow to have another week, this is the business he has chosen and he does have some responsibility to stay out if he is not yet 100%.

But Meyer saying Tebow "looks terrific" and is hopeful Tebow will play, while claiming that he defers to the medical staff, is another step in Meyer's head games. As John Brantley takes snaps in practice, it could be next Wednesday or Thursday before Tebow can get on the field. That means LSU has to prepare for two different versions of the Florida offense. LSU has to assume Meyer is a complete psycho (for the head games) and Tebow is completely healthy. As that happens, Brantley could be looking at his first start, but he is a natural QB with two weeks to prepare. The Gators will still lean on the run game, but maybe Brantley will have the benefit of a healthy and inspired receiving corps.

The longer Meyer can keep LSU in the dark, the better it is for UF. (Unless he is also keeping his team in the dark, but I think that is less likely.) LSU should be worried about Georgia this week, but the nature of Tebow's injury and how this game has been circled by everyone, has entered the Tigers' prep this week for an important road game.

The other side of this is that Meyer's legacy is attached to Tebow. When Tebow was hurt, people asked why was he in, even though Tebow played the same amount last year against Kentucky, another blowout. (By the way, that link goes to a Gainesville Sun article with a picture of Tyrone Prothro's leg busted in thirds. Stay classy, Gville Sun.) If Tebow comes back, and UF wins a National Championship, Meyer reaches iconic status. If Tebow returns and gets injured or is clearly not himself, Meyer is seen as a win-at-all-costs villain. For now, Meyer has to talk about Tebow looking good in order to protect himself and Tebow. Next week, he's not going to be able to do that, unless the team sneaks Tebow between the stadium and practice fields, without anyone noticing. I wouldn't put that past Meyer, but it would take a team wide effort to not let anyone know if Tebow was in or out. Meyer can keep playing with our heads, but this time next week, I think we will know who starts Saturday night in Baton Rouge.