As we gear up for yet another loaded weekend of college football (kicking off tonight with a Boston College loss in Blacksburg, and it wont be close), that features no less than 5 matchups between ranked teams, I figured a few trivia questions might whet everyone's appetite for the weekend.
(1) Which former national power is 12-13 in their last 25 games?
(2) Which school that once dominated its conference for more than a decade has now compiled a record of 4-10 in its last 14 conference games?
(3) Who is the only player in the nation this year to have at least one run of 12 yards in every game so far this season?
(4) Who has the longest active streak of rushing TDs (8 games) in college football?
The answers to questions 1 & 2 are Florida State University. The answers for both questions 3 & 4 are non other than the baby rhinocerous himself, Tim Tebow.
The mention of Tebow brings to mind something that occurred to me last night. Tim Tebow and Josh Beckett are a lot alike. Not in their physical characteristics (though Tebow was a pretty good high school pitcher) but in their mental makeup. After Beckett absolutely blew away the side in the first inning of last nights game, I ventured over to Misery Loves Company (where I was all by my lonesome) and wrote simply, "BECKETT SMASH!!" in the comments section. It was at that moment that I realized that guys like Josh Beckett and Tim Tebow are rare. Not just because of their otherworldly talents but because they have a level of competitiveness and yearning to excel at the highest levels and within the biggest moments that most players simply cannot fathom. Sure, they're both physical freaks blessed with gifts and talent that the average man simply can't comprehend, but they are hardly the only athletes walking through the current sports landscape who can boast of this. What separates them, and what has always separated truly great athletes is an inner fire, an innate desire to transcend the playing field they reside upon and make the most of the precious few "special" moments that they are afforded the chance to be a part of. It's why Beckett has been untouchable for most of his playoff career and its why Tebow was running the ball on 4th and 1 late in the 4th quarter in Knoxville last year as a true freshman quarterback. (Think about that for a second. Its stunning to imagine a coach calling a true freshman QB's number in that situation. However, I dont think a single Florida player, coach or fan flinched when that scenario reared its head last September).
You see, the difference between good players and great players doesn't often reside in numbers we can quantify but instead in words that come off as cliche'. Words like "heart" and "desire". These are the things that allow players to forge legends and build upon them again and again. Does it help to be able to run over linebackers or throw a 97 mph fastball on the outside corner of the plate when the situation demands this level of execution? Of course it does. Can a player consistently achieve this level of excellence without possessing intangibles that can't be measured by legions of scouts and the latest technologies? Not a chance.