For college football fans, this weekend, Championship weekend, is one of the best of the year. The festivities kick off on Friday night with the Pac-12 Championship, which has major College Football Playoff implications as the No. 5 ranked Utah Utes take on the No. 13 Oregon Ducks. After that, it's one game after the other on Saturday, none bigger than the SEC Championship between the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs and No. 2 LSU Tigers.
Who better to break down the epic Bulldogs-Tigers clash than Tim Tebow, a man who played in and won a few SEC Championships himself. On Thursday, the former Heisman Trophy winner was one of many SEC legends who were on hand for the Allstate SEC Good Works Day, a special community service project for the East Atlanta Kids Club. Tebow and others participated in a variety of activities, including beautifying and upgrading the indoor classroom spaces, as well as the outdoor recreation areas, and hosting a special football clinic. Before that though, we caught up with him to discuss the SEC title game, the future of one of his former coaches and much more.
The Loop: We'll get to the SEC Championship game in a bit, but first, how about your Florida Gators? Back-to-back 10 win seasons, should be in a big bowl game. How do you feel about them now and in the future?
Tim Tebow: I think they’re in a good place, they’re getting better, improving the culture, improving in recruiting. They’re bringing the excitement back. I think Dan [Mullen] has done a really good job and I’m excited about where they’re at. They had a chance this year to make even more of a splash in a couple of those games. They were going in at LSU to make it 42-35, a chance to score, and on a 4th & 1 threw a pick. In Jacksonville, against Georgia, kind of a back-and-forth game, missed a few opportunities early and then they gave up a few big 3rd downs.
It shows how close you are, but to cover that gap takes a lot of work, it takes a few more great players, it takes buy-in, it takes a whole lot of things. There’s a lot of positive momentum there, and I do think they’ll go to a good bowl game and they’re definitely taking steps. It’s going in a really good direction.
TL: As expected this time of year, we've heard a lot about Urban Meyer and where he might coach next. Now that USC has decided to keep Clay Helton, what do you think his next move is? You guys are obviously tight, any inside info for us?
TT: I talk to him all the time, we just talked two days ago, we’re very close. But I have no info to share with you on that …
TL: So he's taking the Dallas Cowboys job then? Breaking news!
TT: (Laughs) I have no info for you.
TL: We tried. Anyway, on to LSU-Georgia this Saturday, the big one, the SEC title game. LSU has the potent offense, Georgia the stout defense. And then both LSU's defense and Georgia's offense leave something to be desired. Should be a pretty fascinating matchup.
TT: It’s probably one of the most exciting matchups that I’ve been around in awhile. You could look at LSU’s defense and Georgia’s offense and I guess say that, but man, at times when they’ve really needed it they’ve [LSU’s defense] been able to step up and make some big-time stands. I’m excited about it because they are ‘good on good.’ Is the defense from Georgia going to be able to hold them for nine, 10, 11 possessions in this game? Is Georgia’s offense going to be able to match? What’s going to give in this game? When you really sit down to evaluate it, for me, I think Georgia has to have a few receivers step up and help Jake Fromm and take some pressure off D’Andre Swift and this running game. On the other side of the ball, on 3rd down being able to get off the field, make tackles, that’s another critical part of this game. That 3rd & 1 that 3rd & 3 that LSU just barely converts, then they get that up-tempo and they start to just smush people after that. That’s going to be huge. Georgia has been so good this year, top 5 in the country in defensive efficiency, and a big part of that is getting off the field on 3rd down.
TL: What's a more likely outcome, a back-and-forth shootout or a tighter, low-scoring affair?
TT: I think it will have its swings, I don’t think it’s up and down the field. At times I think you’ll see that for a spurt, but I think you could also see two or three stops in a row. It’s going to be a game based on adjustments. All of a sudden Kirby [Smart] comes out starting the game doing something LSU’s not used to, it might take a couple possessions, then LSU makes an adjustment, then Kirby makes an adjustment. I really think that most of the time that’s how the SEC Championship is played. When you look at history it kind of goes in spurts, very few times has it been dominated on one side. The only time I can remember is Auburn-South Carolina [in 2010], besides that it’s kind of been a game of adjustments.
TL: Lot of big games this weekend, when it's all said and done who ends up in the College Football Playoff?
TT: My playoff vs. what I think [the committee] is going to do is very different. There’s going to be a lot of style points that come into play. Tomorrow night will have a huge say in it. If Utah goes out and dominates, that’s a big statement. If they go in and win barely, and Baylor dominates, then I think Baylor has a pretty good say. If Oklahoma dominates they have a good say too, but not as much as if Baylor does. I think a lot of people are writing off Georgia. If they win, then you have you might already have four top four locked up. There’s a lot that can happen. How’s the game going to look, will there be turnovers, injuries, can Wisconsin play with Ohio State? Could they upset them? Then what happens? A lot of people believe Ohio State would be in anyways. I think there’s still a lot to be said with this final four.
TL: Back to the SEC. Better pro prospect, Jake Fromm or Joe Burrow?
TT: Oh man, you can’t put me on the spot like that. Honestly, I’d take both of them, and I’d take both in the first round. I think they’re both really good players, Joe, what he’s done this year is one of the better years in SEC history, and I think Jake is consistent. He’s the first quarterback to make the SEC Championship game three years in a row since Danny Wuerffel. And he doesn’t have nearly as much help as some of these other guys. I think both of them are going to be playing for a really long time.
TL: Burrow a lock for the Heisman?
TT: I think so. There’s a chance for some other guys to make a push, but honestly I think something big has to happen for Joe not to win it.
TL: Last thing, a coworker and I were discussing that viral picture of you swinging a driver a few years back, the one where your arms are bulging out of your shirt. How far can you move it and how's your golf game overall?
TT: (Laughs) I don’t really get to play a lot, I usually only play about once a year, maybe I can play another time, and that’s only at my tournament at TPC Sawgrass. I used to play a little bit more than that, but now I’m just running all over trying to do as many things as I can. I know I’m going to start playing a lot more in the future because I do enjoy the game and I have a lot of family and friends that love playing. The good thing is I do like trying to hit it hard off the tee, I am a fan of that.