Meyer and UF Dynasty Starts with Tebow

For what has become "old hat" with some in the Gator Nation, Tim Tebow injected a little bit of magic into a National Championship celebration that will be remembered by all that were there and watched on television. Tebow announced he was returning for his senior season to play for the Gators and a third chance in his four years at a national title.

Urban Meyer was a happy coach after the celebration.

With old and current Gators in attendance, the crowd was having a pretty good time in a ceremony that was lower in grandeur and high on humor. The Gators were in a good mood less than three days after winning the BCS title and Meyer talked to the media after the celebration

First up on the agenda was the Tebow news. Most probably anticipated it from the Heisman Trophy winner, but having him tell the nation was a big load off of the Gator Nation's shoulders for the 2009 season. Meyer said he learned of Tebow's decision Saturday.

"Tim did tell me yesterday," Meyer said with a grin. "We sat for about five hours together with his family. I made the comment that Tim would make the right decision whatever he decided. It was well thought out and he spoke to the right people. It's a great day for Gator football."

Tebow turned in the paperwork necessary to be graded by an NFL advisory committee on where he might be drafted, Meyer has no idea what came of that advice, but he knows Tebow sought a lot of assistance in making the decision to come back.

"I wasn't involved in that," Meyer said of his talks with former and current coaches in the NFL who talked to Tebow about his decision. "Tim had some discussions and I don't know what they said to him. I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him. I told him I would love him whatever he did."

Tebow and company decided to add a little drama to the announcement. Sunday in front of about 40,000 people in The Swamp, former Gator starting quarterbacks Danny Wuerffel and Chris Leak were on stage to introduce Tebow to the crowd. They were the starting quarterbacks on Florida's other two National Championships and both did the deed as seniors on their respective squads.

Danny Wuerffel, the darling of Gators' football before Tebow arrived was started in on addressing Tebow back to the stage.

"This is an incredibly special team and we have the privilege of introducing to you an incredibly special person, Tim Tebow," Wuerffel told the crowd as they cheered loudly.

Wuerffel, on stage with his son Jonah, talked about what a special person Tebow is.

"I heard once that he said there were some things he looked at in me as a role model," Wuerffel said of Tebow. "Now I get to have (Jonah) look up to somebody and say here is somebody that cares about other people. Tim Tebow is my role model, and our role model."

Wuerffel looked at Leak, who was standing on stage with him and asked for his agreement on the next statement.

"The only thing left that Tim hasn't done as a player, is that you have two senior National Championship quarterbacks (right here)..."

The crowd roared with delight as the anticipation of announcement from Tebow was in their grasp. They started chanting loudly, "One More Year!! One More Year!!".

Then Wuerffel took the microphone and continued on, taking a somber tone and trying to convince the crowd there might not be the news coming that they were looking forward to.

"I just want to say thank you to Danny and Chris, two big role models for me," Tebow started. "It's been great to play for the University of Florida. It was one of the best decisions of my entire life when I came to the University of Florida.

"I want to thank Coach Meyer for the opportunity to be a Florida Gator. I love him like a father figure. Thanks to all the coaches and the players, I love you guys. Thanks for all the great memories.

"I want to thank all the fans, you are unbelievable. You come out and support us, win or lose, good or bad, I just love you so much. I am a Gator fan myself, so I love Gator Nation.

"I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You can do all things through Christ. Thank You God Bless and I appreciate you so much."

Then Tebow turns to walk away under a little bit of softer applause as he apparently ended his speech. Suddenly he put the microphone back to his mouth and with a yell says, "By the way, one more thing...Let's do it again. I'm coming back!!!"

The crowd erupted for the loudest and longest cheer of the day.

Meyer believes there is a lot more to Tebow's return than just another special season for the Gators in 2009.

"It means a lot and obviously the functional football part of it, but we all know it is much deeper than that," Meyer said. "He is unbelievable for college football. When my daughter texts me in the morning and quotes the bible verse he has underneath his eyes, it is good for college football. Good for young people, good for everything."

Now Meyer has to wait to hear the decisions of two of his other top players that may really take a look at pro football. Junior wide receiver Percy Harvin and junior linebacker Brandon Spikes had stellar seasons and are considering their options at this time. Meyer will be fine with whatever decision they make.

"No word yet, I think they are still doing the research," Meyer said of the two. "That is all I want is the guys to make the right decision.

"The good thing about these guys, you are talking about quality families and educated guys. Four years ago I wasn't involved and there were some people that were involved and they were horrible decisions. I don't blame them. I didn't recruit them and they weren't my people. These guys will make the right decision."

That decision may be to stay or to go. Certainly it would make Meyer's life easier if the two would stay, but no matter what decision they make he will be happy for them. If Harvin decides he needs to suit up on Sundays next year, Meyer will understand and hope for the best.

"I will tell Percy 'I love you, you made the right decision and I will support you whatever you do. You gave your heart to Gator Nation and the Gator football team,'" Meyer said. "If it was different and he had a dysfunctional family...he doesn't...he has a very intelligent family and he surrounds himself with good people."

Meyer has already seen the departure of his offensive coordinator, Dan Mullen, to Mississippi State. Meyer also acknowledged the rumors that tight ends coach John Hevesy will be moving on to Mississippi State as well.

"John Hevesy has been promoted," Meyer said. "He has a title at Mississippi State. We were together eight years and he was a great coach, great friend, great husband, and a great father. We will do great hiring a new coach here."

There is also a chance his replacement offensive coordinator could be on his way out of town. Steve Addazio could not make the celebration due to a stay in the hospital, Meyer said Addazio is still being recruited hard on the job front as a head coach.

"Boston College might request permission to talk to Steve," Meyer said of the vacant head coaching position. "I don't know much more than that. Obviously Steve's a great coach and they should ask permission to talk to him. He is in the hospital with an infection with his knee replacement. Say a prayer, that's a serious deal."


Meyer was asked about the maturation and growth off the field for sophomore defensive tackle Torrey Davis. After being suspended for six different games this season, Davis played most of the latter portion of the season. He had a huge play in the BCS title game when he stopped a Sooner running back on 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line. Davis ripped through a block for a two yard loss on the play. Meyer talked about Davis' growth as a person Sunday.

"W-O-W, wow...where he is right now," Meyer said in disbelief as he reflected on a moment right before the game with the Sooners. "We walked out on the field four minutes before game time, we were kind of squeezed in that tunnel and he said 'Coach, I appreciate you.' That's about the best conversation we've had since he's been here, it's not been very pleasant. I think he's changed and really sincerely interested in getting an education from Florida. If that happens you can have a great player."


Freshman running back Chris Rainey had what looked like a serious injury in the game Thursday. Meyer said Rainey's injury should be okay soon enough. He also talked a couple of minor injuries going on now at season's end.

"Rainey is just an ankle sprain and he's going to be fine," Meyer said. "It happened right in front of me, We have a couple of guys, Carl Johnson has a minor surgery. Murphy has some cartilage and they have to clean it up."


On stage and in front of the entire crowd, Meyer was asked to reflect back on his days of recruiting at Notre Dame and what he thought when he came to Florida to recruit. Meyer said he stopped by The Swamp and called his wife Shelley to tell her where he was. He reemphasized how much he knew then that he wanted to coach at Florida some day.

"This is it, this is the place," he remembers thinking back then. "I called my wife and said 'this is the place'."


One of the most nostalgic moments of the ceremony Sunday was watching the three championship quarterbacks hand off the new crystal trophy ball and transport it to the stage. Danny Wuerffel came out of the team tunnel toting the ball over his head. He handed off to Chris Leak who held it over his head and took it to Tebow. Tebow walked it up to the stage where an Orange Bowl representative took it and presented it to Coach Meyer.


Sophomore tight end Aaron Hernandez was on stage for some moments Sunday. Hernandez was asked by emcees Mike and Maurkice Pouncey to talk about how it felt to be a national champion and celebrate with the Gator Nation.

"It was a great feeling," Hernandez said. "The Gator fans are the best fans in the nation. I have never felt like that in my life and we are going to get one next year for y'all. I am glad I came to the Gators. I wouldn't trade anything in the world for being here right now."


Sophomore cornerback Joe Haden and sophomore safety Ahmad Black took their spots on the stage with the Pounceys. They were asked about playing the high scoring Oklahoma offense that scored more than 60 points in each of their last five games and averaged 54 for the season.

"Basically our defense came out there with the mindset that nobody will score 60 points on us," Haden said reiterating a quote he was scrutinized for before the game. "The only people that might do that are Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin. (the crowd roared in laughter) We know if we can stop Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin (in practice)...everybody else, they can't do much against us."

Black had his candid remarks to.

"Sixty points?," Black asked. "It's like (Brandon) Spikes said, the Big 12 defenses are a joke."


Percy Harvin and Urban Meyer have been a target of some Internet fun since the game. Harvin walked up behind Meyer at the latter stages of the game and smacked him on the back side as any football comrade would do to someone they are battling with and not against. The scene has been lampooned on the Internet and was discussed with emcee James Bates on stage. Bates asked Percy to apologize to Meyer for adding a little extra smack in oomph in the physical expression.

"Coach, you know I'm sorry," Harvin said with a laugh. "It ain't nothing but love baby."

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