SportsPulse: Paul Myerberg previews and prognosticates Week 8 of the college football season. He sends his best wishes to Tennessee and Michigan, both teams that are likely to take big Ls.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the Amway Coaches Poll. They’ve won five national titles in 10 years. They have one of the most accomplished coaches in college football history, and a potential No. 1 pick at quarterback.
And yet, in a way, Tim Tebow believes they’re actually being overlooked.
“I think they’re being overlooked because of the championship game last year,” Tebow told USA TODAY Sports in an interview Thursday. “I think they’re being overlooked because of the hype that they’ve had for the last 10 years. I think they’re being overlooked because they expected so much from Tua (Tagovailoa).”
But ultimately, Tebow said he thinks Alabama is being overlooked because its wide receiving corps – led by Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III and Jaylen Waddle – has not gotten sufficient credit. Tebow believes the group is “one of the best receiving corps since I’ve been watching college football.”
“I think there are other (receiving corps) up there that have been great,” the 32-year-old SEC Network analyst said. “Miami’s had a few, Southern Cal’s had a few. But I think there’s a legit shot that four of those guys could be first-round draft picks. And they’re all gamebreakers.”
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Tebow spoke to USA TODAY Sports on Thursday to promote the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which honors 22 athletes who have made an impact in their communities through acts of service and charity. The former Florida quarterback was a member of the team in 2009 and is now part of the voting panel that selects it annually.
In a wide-ranging interview, Tebow also discussed the general state of the Southeastern Conference and why he believes LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is actually the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, at least at this point in the season.
“I’d have to preface it by saying that Joe Burrow has played some of his biggest games,” Tebow said. “Tua hasn’t had to play his biggest games. He hasn’t had to play LSU, hasn’t played Auburn. But Joe Burrow went to Texas and had arguably the best game of any quarterback this year, at Texas, and he did it against the Gators again last weekend.
“If I had to vote now, he’s probably the guy that I would put in there as the winner right now. (But) I think that will change by the time the second week of December gets here, because there’s so much to be played.”
Tebow, whose fourth minor-league baseball season with the New York Mets organization ended prematurely due to a pinky injury, has also been in the news recently because of comments he made regarding a California law that will give college athletes the ability to profit off their name, image and likeness.
Tebow drew criticism for his comments on ESPN’s “First Take” earlier this month, when he said it would fundamentally alter college football and turn it “into the NFL, where who has the most money that’s where you go.”
Tebow said Thursday that he thinks some of the context was lost in the one-minute clip that circulated on social media, as opposed to the longer conversation that occurred on the show.
“I want to have stipends and supports for these young athletes. I just think it’s important how we do it,” Tebow said. “I still believe that we’ve opened up some really good doors of conversation, and we’ve opened up some avenues. But I think we have to figure out before we go down those avenues how do we kind of stomp the loopholes.”
When asked within that context if he’s OK with the money that’s being pumped through college football broadly – including multi-million dollar salaries for coaches – Tebow pointed the financial support that football and men’s basketball programs provide for non-revenue sports at various schools, and the financial value of the scholarships that athletes receive. He said he tries to “see both sides” of the issue.
“I can see the side where a Dabo (Swinney) and a (Nick) Saban are making a lot of money, but then I think you’ve got to see the other side of how many millions has Nick Saban brought to Alabama?” Tebow said. “Look at, since he took over, how many thousands of students from out of state have started to come to Alabama. So I think there’s both sides of that.”
Contact Tom Schad at email@example.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.