December 13, 2008

Tebow finishes third

NEW YORK - Tim Tebow entered the post-ceremony press conference with a question of his own:

"How ya'll doing?"

Nothing has changed. Even though he was the one giving out the congratulatory hugs to this year's Heisman winner Sam Bradford, Tebow entered the press conference with no trophy but he still had his same school-boy smile.

Still, just missing out on becoming only the second player ever to win two Heismans leaves a competitor's heart a little empty.

"As a competitor, I would love to win," Tebow said.

He almost did. He finished with 1,575 points, 151 behind Bradford's winning number of 1,726. Texas' Colt McCoy finished second with 1,604.

What probably damaged Tebow's chances the most was that 17 percent of the voters left him off their ballot. Only 11 percent of the voters actually pegged the final order of Bradford, McCoy and Tebow.

"It shows that they either love us or they hate us - that's Florida," Tebow said. "It's great. It probably started with [Steve] Spurrier's swagger, to tell you the truth….It probably made other guys not like the Gators."

That's not necessarily a bad thing though, at least outside of the Heisman voting.

"Don't ride on the fence," Tebow said.

"I appreciate everybody who voted. If they didn't think I was worthy, oh well. I still get one more chance, right?"

It also didn't bolster Tebow's chances after Bradford's Sooners scored 62 points in last weekend's Big 12 Championship game. Even though Tebow played well in his own conference title match, it's hard to match up against a 62-point effort.

"I feel that did affect the overall vote," Bradford said.

So in this Oklahoma-Florida contest, round one goes to Bradford.

Now it's time for Tebow and Bradford to get ready for Round two on Jan. 8 in Miami.
That's where their focus is now. "We still get to play on Jan. 8 and decide something better, so I'm a little excited about that," Tebow said.

Tebow didn't come out and say he was staying for his senior year, but he did have a coy answer when asked about that. "More motivation for one more year to tie Archie (Griffin)," Tebow said with a smile.

For now, though, he was just happy to give Bradford the same advice he got last year: Go out and give thanks to the higher power. "Just go up there and give God credit because He deserves it," Tebow said. "I thanked (Bradford) for giving God the credit because there's a lot of kids, a lot of people watching that needed that. Because of what I did last year, I knew that. I thought he did a good job."

That's part of the reason why McCoy called the two of them "two great class acts."

Last year, Tebow won it much more easily than Bradford won it this year. This year, nobody knew what was going to happen. "I had more of a gut feeling that I was going to win last year, but I thought I had a chance," Tebow said. "Who knows?"

Perhaps coming away with the most first place votes - and the most first place votes ever for a third-place finalist - could serve as consolation.

Well, maybe not.

"To tell you the truth, not really," Tebow said. "You lose, you lose." He'll have another chance to win on Jan. 8.

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