‘Tebowgate' Dominates SEC Media Days

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The story has taken on a life of its own and quickly turned into a pseudo-controversy.

Over the past two days, reporters have grilled a half dozen Southeastern Conference football coaches about the "scandal." And it has become such a hot topic that ESPN.com made it one of its lead stories Thursday afternoon.

Call it Tebowgate.

As ridiculous as it might sound, the first two days of SEC Media Days have been dominated by the mystery over which coach recently left Florida quarterback Tim Tebow off his All-SEC ballot.

Any talk about Tennessee first-year coach Lane Kiffin or Florida's chances of repeating as national champions has taken a back seat to the SEC's version of voter fraud.

"It would be very difficult to not vote (for) Tim, but I guess somebody did," Georgia coach Mark Richt said Thursday morning, standing in front of a room full of reporters inside the Wynfrey Hotel. "Maybe there was a mistake in the calculation, I don't know. Maybe there was a typo."

Tebow was named last week to the coaches All-SEC first team, but the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion wasn't a unanimous selection. The assumption is that Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead also received a first-team vote.

The balloting is being kept a secret, so reporters have made it a point to ask every coach who has arrived in Hoover this week to disclose which quarterback he listed on his All-SEC ballot.

It's gotten to the point where several coaches have brought up the topic before anyone can ask them about it. But the man at the center of the controversy doesn't seem to care about it.

"I don't think this will be something I think about too much," Tebow said, smiling.

The attention being paid to "Tebowgate" illustrates just how immensely popular the Florida quarterback is.

Tebow is college football's biggest star. He's nicknamed Superman. And this week he made his fourth appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the past year.

The infatuation with Tebow has gotten so out of hand that one of the biggest stories to come out of Thursday's news conferences was him admitting that he's still a virgin and is saving himself for marriage.

"There is no man like Tim Tebow," Florida linebacker Ryan Stamper said. "With everything he goes through, I do not know how he handles all the pressure and media attention."

So far, seven SEC coaches — including Arkansas' Bobby Petrino — have said that they voted for Tebow. Florida coach Urban Meyer admitted that he didn't pick Tebow, but that's because the league doesn't allow coaches to vote for their own players.

At least one SEC coach, however, appeared to be annoyed by the repeated questions about Tebow and the All-SEC ballots.

"I voted for Tim," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "... But I also think everybody should have the right to vote for whoever they want, and I don't think they should be criticized for that.

"It's what a lot of people have fought for in this country for a long time. So I don't understand why anybody would even be interested, but I guess it's somebody trying to create news."

But Meyer said he doesn't believe the snub will push Tebow to work harder in practice. In fact, the coach laughed at the suggestion.

"Someone asked me if that's going to motivate Tim. Whoever asks those questions (doesn't) know Tim," Meyer said. "Tim has a lot of things to motivate him. That's not one."

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