April 1, 2009

Tebow's speech immortalized at Florida

Knowledge is good. So are Tim Tebow's promises.

Proof of both has been etched in stone.

Ever since Emil Faber, the founder of Faber College, made the enduring proclamation that "Knowledge is Good," profound quotes and speeches have been immortalized on college campuses around the country.

Therefore, it's no surprise Tebow's emotional postgame speech after last season's 31-30 loss to Ole Miss has been engraved on a plaque mounted on the wall of the football facility at Florida Field.

Tebow was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 at Ole Miss' 32 in the final minute to thwart the Gators' rally. At the time, Florida's chances for a national championship seemed irreparably damaged. But the Gator orator made a speech that will surely live eternally in Florida lore.

"To the fans and everybody in Gator Nation, I'm sorry. I'm extremely sorry," he said. "We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal. Something Florida has never done here.

"I promise you one thing: A lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless."

Tebow threw at least two touchdown passes and the Gators prevailed by double figures in every remaining game en route to capturing their second national title in three seasons.

As speeches go, it's not as dramatic as Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne's halftime pep talk in which he urged the Irish to "win one for the Gipper" or Penn State running back John Cappelletti's tear-jerking Heisman acceptance speech in 1973. But it's much better than Congresswoman Corrine Brown's painful Florida championship congratulatory address to the U.S. House of Representatives (search the Internet and you'll find it).

Speeches, rants, broadcasts and one-liners can become as legendary as players and coaches who speak them. Some show up on T-shirts or bumper stickers or on statues or all over the Web. Right, Mike Gundy?

Tebow's promise definitely belongs etched in stone. It showed us the desire for redemption and the power of determination and gave us the knowledge that glory can be salvaged from defeat.

And knowledge is good.

The Talk Ten

Tebow's speech is among my 10 favorite speeches, rants, broadcasts and other orations from college football. Here are my other nine.

9. "We will get to the point where we will be very awesome. And it won't be very long. So all the people better get their licks in while they can." Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill after a 47-9 loss to SMU in 1982. Three years later, the Aggies went 10-2 and won the first of three consecutive Southwest Conference championships.

8. "There was some misinformation on ESPN and I think it's imperative that I straighten it out. I'm the head coach at LSU. I will be the head coach at LSU. I have no interest in talking to anybody else. I've got a championship game to play, and I'm excited about the opportunity my damn strong football team has to play in it." LSU coach Les Miles before the 2007 SEC championship game, responding to reports that he was leaving to accept the coaching job at Michigan. His strong team then beat Tennessee 21-14 and went on to win the national championship.

7. "It's about the 'U,' man. I don't give a flying you-know-what about a Vol. This is war. He'd do the same thing to me. They're out there to kill you. We don't care about nobody except this 'U.' We don't. If I didn't hurt him, he'd hurt me. They were gunning for my legs. I'm going to come right back at them. I'm a (bleep) soldier." Miami tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. when asked about injuring a Tennessee player during a 10-6 Miami loss in 2003.

6. "Third down-and-8 in trouble gotta block behind him and gonna throw on the run. Complete to the 25 .. to the 30 Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40 run Lindsey 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 .. Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Well, I don't believe it 92 yards and Lindsay really got into a foot race. I broke my chair. I came right through my chair a metal, steel chair with about a five-inch cushion. I broke it. The booth came apart. Well, the stadium fell down. Now they do have to renovate this thing. They have to rebuild it now. This is incredible. You know, this game has always been called the 'World's Greatest Cocktail Party.' Do you know what is gonna happen here tonight and up at St. Simon's and Jekyll Island and all those places where all those Dawg people have these condominiums for four days? Man, is there gonna be some property destroyed tonight!" Georgia play-by-play announcer Larry Munson's call of Lindsay Scott's last-minute touchdown in a 26-21 victory over Florida in 1980. Georgia went on to win the national championship.

5. "I got an anonymous letter from a parent. Said he's kind of bummed out this year that the boys only get two weeks off before they start their summer conditioning program. You know, they normally get three. Well, we gave them a week at the start of the semester rather than the end, but here's my point OK? It's Division I football. It's the Big 12. It ain't intramurals. You've got two weeks after finals. You've got a week on July 4, and a week before camp starts. That's a month. That's probably more vacation than you guys [the media] get and we're a little bummed out because we don't get three weeks. Go play intramurals, brother. Go play intramurals." Colorado coach Dan Hawkins on National Signing Day 2007, responding to parents' complaints about time demands on players.

4. "Where are we in society today? Come after me. I'm a man. I'm 40. I'm not a kid. Write something about me or our coaches. Not about a kid that does everything right. And then say the coaches said he's scared. That ain't true. It makes me want to puke." Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy criticizes an Oklahoma City columnist in September 2007 for a story on then-Cowboys quarterback Bobby Reid.

3. "Finally, if you will permit me, I'd like to make a comment which, in my mind, is indicative, perhaps, of the greater significance of football and sports emphasis in general in this country, and that is, I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest and not on the battlefields of Europe. I can speak confidently and positively that the players of this country would much more, much rather, struggle and fight to win the Heisman award than the Croix de Guerre." Iowa's Nile Kinnick during his 1939 Heisman Trophy acceptance speech.

2. "I'm going to tell you something I've kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew George Gipp. It was before your time. But you know what a tradition he is at Notre Dame. And the last thing he said to me: 'Rock,' he said, 'sometime, when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it. And I'll be happy.' " Knute Rockne's halftime speech that inspired Notre Dame to a 12-6 victory over Army in 1928.

1. "Lastly, there is my brother, Joseph, who is ill. He has leukemia. They say I've shown courage on the football field, but for me it's only on the field and only in the fall. Joey lives with pain all the time. His courage is 'round the clock. I want him to have this trophy. It's more his than mine because he has been such an inspiration to me." Penn State's John Cappelletti honors his dying younger brother in his 1973 Heisman Trophy acceptance speech.

The Edge

This week, it's Florida vs. Texas. This Edge was requested by reader William Diaz of Immokalee, Fla.

Each week, we'll match two teams to determine which has the edge in various categories. Got a matchup you want to see? Send it to olin@rivals.com and we'll work on it.

1. Physical spirit gesture
Florida: The Gator Chomp.
Texas: Hook 'Em Horns sign.
Edge: Texas. Opponents even flash an inversed Hook 'Em. The inversed Gator Chomp is well, the Gator Chomp.
2. National championships
Florida: Won it all in 1996, 2006 and 2008.
Texas: Won it all in 1963, 1969, 1970 and 2005.
Edge: Texas. The Longhorns' 1970 championship was the UPI's version, which was awarded before a Cotton Bowl loss to Notre Dame. But it still counts.
3. Link to Gatorade
Florida: James Cade was a professor of medicine and physiology at Florida when he invented the sports drink.
Texas: Cade graduated from Texas.
Edge: Florida. Cade didn't call it Longhornade, after all.
4. Heisman winners
Florida: Steve Spurrier in 1966, Danny Wuerffel in 1996 and Tim Tebow in 2007.
Texas: Earl Campbell in 1977 and Ricky Williams in 1998.
Edge: Florida. Not only do the Gators have three to Texas' two, but two of the Gators' winners have national championships, although Tebow did not win the Heisman in a national championship season.
5. Beating Oklahoma in 2008
Florida: The Gators won by 10 points.
Texas: The Longhorns won by 10 points.
Edge: Florida. By beating Oklahoma, the Gators won the national championship.
6. Former players to become NFL head coaches
Florida: Chan Gailey, Lindy Infante, Mike Mularkey, Steve Spurrier, Kay Stephenson.
Texas: Tom Landry
Edge: Texas. This is a matter of quality over quantity. Landry had a career record of 270-178-6, with two Super Bowl champions. The five Florida guys have a combined NFL record of 90-141.
7. Iconic former coach
Florida: Steve Spurrier
Texas: Darrell Royal
Edge: Texas. Royal won more national championships and never left to coach elsewhere. He even turned down his alma mater, Oklahoma.
8. Iconic present coach
Florida: Urban Meyer
Texas: Mack Brown
Edge: Florida. Meyer has two SEC championships and two national championships in four seasons in Gainesville. Brown has one Big 12 championship and one national championship in 11 seasons in Austin.
9. Academy Award-winning actresses
Florida: Faye Dunaway (1976 Best Actress for "Network")
Texas: Renee Zellweger (2004 Best Supporting Actress for "Cold Mountain")
Edge: Florida. Best Actress trumps Best Supporting Actress.
10. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members
Florida: Stephen Stills
Texas: Janis Joplin
Edge: Florida. Stills is in with two bands Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash.
11. Neutral-site game vs. archrival
Florida: "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" vs. Georgia in Jacksonville
Texas: "The Red River Rivalry" vs. Oklahoma in Dallas
Edge: Texas. The "Cocktail Party" has a cooler name (even if school officials won't recognize it), but the Red River Rivalry matches two of the top eight winningest programs of all time.
12. First-round draft choices
Florida: 38, most recently Derrick Harvey (Jacksonville Jaguars) in 2008.
Texas: 40, most recently Michael Griffin (Tennessee Titans) and Aaron Ross (New York Giants) in 2007.
Edge: Texas.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.


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