Published: January 9, 2009
Of course he did.
His teammates did, too.
So unless you slept under a Texas, Utah or USC blankie, you woke this morning to Florida's third national football championship.
You woke to the replays from the second half, to the head down, to the gritty runs, to the three Gators scoring drives, to the last of them, the clincher, finished off by an old favorite, a Tim Tebow fake run and jump pass for a touchdown that sealed the 24-14 victory over Oklahoma.
He didn't have his best night.
No, not at all.
He threw two interceptions in the first half, as many as he'd thrown in the first 13 games of this championship season.
But when it mattered, when it counted, Tebow counted more, at least more than Oklahoma Heisman winner Sam Bradford and the historically prolific Sooners offense.
Maybe he isn't the best quarterback in the nation.
He has heard all that. Leading up to this game, he heard Oklahoma defenders flapping their gums about how Tebow would only be the fourth best quarterback in the Big 12, or even the seventh best.
In the end, he was only who he was.
A winner like we've almost never seen.
There were so many other players in this game.
So many other big Florida plays.
The Gators defense held an Oklahoma team that had scored 60 or more points in its last five games to 14 all night.
Think about that.
Florida held OU without points twice inside the red zone late in the first half - a huge fourth-down stop by former Armwood star Torrey Davis, and an interception by Major Wright, who made the grab only after seemingly the entire defense had batted it around. Team effort.
And there was Percy Harvin, playing through pain, maybe not even at full speed, shredding Oklahoma when it mattered.
But in the end, how could you not come back to No. 15?
You knew he was fired up about his first start in a national championship. He said he'd dreamed about it since he was a kid. Maybe he was tight because of it. He missed a lot of throws, and his two picks were thrown off his back foot. Or maybe he wanted to prove OU's defense wrong, so very wrong. It was motivation.
"Absolutely," Tebow said this week.
So he came out after halftime, the game tied at 7, and he grabbed this night. He led the Gators downfield, running again and again, six times for 48 yards, making big plays, until Harvin ran it in for a 14-7 lead. At one point, he rose up and raised his arms to the Gators in the crowd and roared. They roared right back.
Has there ever been a leader like this kid?
Oklahoma tied it early in the fourth quarter, but the Gators came right back, Harvin breaking off a 52-yard run that eventually led to a field goal.
But the last drive belonged to Tebow, as it should have. After the defense made another big play - Ahmad Black's interception - Tebow led the Gators downfield.
He was left off more than a few Heisman ballots this time around. Maybe that was motivation, too.
Down the field came the Gators.
Down the field came Tim Tebow.
Six passes, six completions.
A 13-yard pass. A 17-yarder on third and 10. Over the middle for 29 yards. Then another for four yards, and one for nine yards on a shovel pass on third and 6, all the way to the Oklahoma 6. He ran up the middle for two yards before jumping and throwing to David Nelson for the score.
A few minutes later, as the game MVP stood on the championship platform with his teammates, how could you not think about the emotional apology and promise Tebow made after the loss to Mississippi, how no one would work harder, or push his team more.
That was the promise.
Thursday night, that was Tim Tebow, and those were his Gators.
Will he be back?
"One More Year," Florida fans screamed to him when it was over.
They don't want to let him go.
And in so many ways, they never will.