The finale for Tim Tebow and this Era of Gator Football could not have ended any better, at least in terms of performance. Tebow's performance in Florida's 51-24 rout of Cincinnati wasn't his best game. That would go to FSU in 2007 or Alabama in 2008. Statistically however, it was Tebow outclassing an opponent that clearly plays a brand of football that would go .500 in the SEC. 31-35 for 482 yards and three touchdowns is damn impressive when you realize there were eight games this season in which the Gators didn't gain 482 total yards. On twitter, I hoped for Tebow to end his career by punching someone in the face. I had to settle for a middle finger to NFL scouts.
The defense of Brandon Spikes and Ryan Stamper sent Charlie Strong to Louisville as a winner. It was a form tackle clinic, unlike the diving at guys and not wrapping up that happened against Alabama. Spikes was his usual self, but the line and secondary were the most impressive units. The Major Wright was putting his shoulder into anyone in a white jersey and Joe Haden kept himself on the top of draft boards. Justin Trattou had the best game I've seen him play and Carlos Dunlap overcame the worst mistake of his life to show how good of a end he can really be.
Cincinnati might have thought they belonged with the Big Boys, but they played more like Hawaii vs. Georgia than Utah vs. Alabama. They didn't play bad; no turnovers, only three penalties and Mardy Gilyard had seven catches. But Gilyard's seven catches were for only 41yards and all Cincy could do was tie a half-speed UF 21-21 in the second half. To make it worse, the Big East's performance this bowl season has not inspired much confidence in the basketball league that plays football to keep people busy. Pittsburgh's win against UNC was not that great and Rutgers beating UCF is no accomplishment. Yesterday, West Virginia getting rolled by FSU, who couldn't play defense against a seven-man team, was the appetizer to Cincy's performance. To be fair, the loss of Brian Kelly to Notre Dame, and their interim coach to Buffalo caused some distractions. But Tony Pike played as if he had never seen film on Florida. And this guy is ahead of Tebow on draft lists? The trick plays and dirty plays were acts of desperation and they were in the first half. Not Boise emptying the playbook at the end or Utah's hook and ladder in the middle of blowing out Pitt in 2005.
Urban Meyer was able to relax last night, another accomplishment for Florida. Meyer coming back is still a less than solid bet. I put the chances at about 80%, but things can change quickly. He will be coming back to a team that will lose their top two wide receivers and possibly their top two interior linemen, in addition to the seniors who have given Florida four years of great football. We were very lucky that this group came through Gainesville at this time with this staff. But Florida has to be able to move on too. Meyer, for all of his success, had never had to maintain a program. He starts that today, even if it is from a boat somewhere.