Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow refused to say he considers himself retired from football in an interview with the Associated Press, but he did talk about a possible future in coaching or politics.
Tebow was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2010 and traded to the New York Jets in 2012 after leading Denver to a playoff victory the previous season. He hasn’t played in the NFL since 2012, aside from preseason stints with New England in 2013 and Philadelphia in 2015. He will be 29 when the NFL season begins in September.
“I love what coaching is,” Tebow told Ralph Russo from the AP. “I love the fact that coaching is teaching and it’s helping and it’s mentoring and it’s loving and it’s being a father figure. That is something that has always intrigued me.”
Tebow is scheduled to work as analyst for the SEC Network again this season and was rumored to be a speaker at the Republican National Convention last week, but that never materialized. He did not rule out a future in politics in the interview with AP.
“My goal has always been able to make the biggest impact that I possible could in people’s lives,” Tebow told the AP. “If I thought this is the right avenue, this would work, then I would be totally up for going down that path. Do I feel like that’s right now? No, not necessarily,” he said. “Could it happen in the future? Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t right that off.”
Tim Tebow and Shaquille O’Neal were among a group of local athletes to visit victims of last week’s mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse night club.
Tebow, who grew up in Jacksonville and attended Florida; O’Neal, who still lives in Orlando and played his first four seasons with the Orlando Magic; Johnny Damon, the baseball star for the Boston Red Sox who grew up in Orlando; and Kaka, an international soccer star and player for Orlando City, visited Orlando Regional Medical Center on Monday to comfort victims of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“Ann and I thank these amazing athletes for bringing joy and encouragement to the survivors and their families who are recovering from the terrorist attack,” Florida governor Rick Scott said in the statement to the Orlando Sentinel. “I also want to thank the Orlando Regional Medical Center and their amazing staff who have worked around the clock to care for these individuals. We are all inspired by the hope, love and courage displayed by these survivors during their recovery.”
For Tebow the trip was especially personal.
One of Tebow’s former teammates was a bartender at Pulse night club and was shot three times. He is in the hospital recovering, having been rescued by someone inside the club and “bear hugged” to prevent further loss of blood, according to First Coast News in Jacksonville.
The Gators won 27 of their 36 national championship in school history during Foley’s tenure, including a title in at least one sport for the last seven years.
The collective success of all Florida sports since 1992 is unmatched in college athletics. The program won the SEC All-Sports Trophy in 24 of Foley’s 25 years as athletics director.
Foley will retire in October with the program in solid shape from a coaching and facilities standpoint. UF opened its new indoor practice facility and a $25-million academic center in the last calendar year, and O’Dome renovations will be completed this December.
Foley also dealt with four coaching changes in 2015. After firing the coach of the school’s biggest sport, Foley made what now appears to be a slam-dunk hire in Jim McElwain, who was named SEC Coach of the Year last season after winning 10 games and the SEC East title.
Foley also replaced three of the most successful coaches in school history last year with the departures of Billy Donovan (basketball), Rhonda Faehn (gymnastics) and Buddy Alexander (men’s golf). Foley also kept Texas from hiring UF baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who turned down the Longhorns last week.
Here are the five great accomplishments of Jeremy Foley’s career:
1. Year of the Gators
Foley has said the 1996 title was the high point of his time at Florida, but 2006 was the year of the Gators and will always stand out. UF became the first — and is still the only — program to win national championships in both football and basketball in a single year. It was a sign of things to come for both sports. Quarterback Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy the following year and led the Gators to another title in 2008. Basketball repeated as national champions in 2007, killing the notion that Florida is only a football school that can’t win in other revenue sports. The 2007 team consisted of six NBA draft picks.
2. Billy Donovan hire
After tasting Final Four success in 1994, Foley wanted to make the Gators relevant in basketball and set them up for long-term success. He entrusted 31-year-old Donovan with that task despite him having just two years of head coaching experience at Marshall. The 1996 hire proved to be prescient, as Donovan transformed Florida into a powerhouse program. In addition to the two national titles, UF had four Final Four trips and four straight Elite Eight appearances under Donovan as well as 10 combined SEC championships in his final 14 years. He also gave Foley his formula for hiring new coaches.
3. All-sports dominance
While basketball will go down as Foley’s most notable success, it’s not his legacy nor his most impressive sport. Foley’s ultimate goal was creating championship programs in every sport, including some new ones. He did both. Women’s tennis and men’s track and field each won six national titles under Foley. They had a three-peat in gymnastics from 2013-15 and also went back-to-back in softball, one of three women’s sports Foley started at Florida. Soccer captured the 1998 national title in the program’s fourth year (also now has 14 SEC titles), and lacrosse won five straight conference championships after its inaugural season in 2010.
4. Running a clean program
Foley has preached about following NCAA rules and running a clean program since the day he took the job. He worked for the UAA in 1984 when the football program was placed on two years probation and had its SEC title stripped that season. The football and basketball programs were again hit with two years probation in 1990. Both of those programs were cleaned up under Foley’s watch, paving the way for their championship success. “We’ve had our issues and we’re not perfect, but when we raise the trophies, we’re doing it the right way. I think that’s important for the University of Florida,” Foley said in a Q&A with FloridaGators.com.
5. Fixing failed football hires
Foley’s few detractors during his time as athletics director pointed to the failed football fires of Will Muschamp (2011-14) and Ron Zook (2002-04). Foley not only owned up to those mistakes, he fixed them. “What must be done eventually must be done immediately,” Foley famously said after firing Zook midway into the season. He replaced him with Urban Meyer, who won twice as many national titles as Steve Spurrier in half the number of years. In hindsight, Foley should have pulled the plug on Muschamp after his 4-8 record in 2013, but he still rebounded with the McElwain hire. UF has made it to the SEC championship game in four of the seven seasons post Muschamp and Zook.
Other notable Foley accomplishments, according to a Florida press release:
Florida has ranked in top five nationally in all-sports rankings in 17 years of his 24 years at the helm of the program and in the top 10 every year. Five times since 1997-98, Florida has turned in its all-time high finish of second, including four of the last six rankings. It is expected Florida will again finish among the nation’s top 10 when the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings are released later this month. Gator teams have recorded 271 top 10 national finishes under Foley.
More than half of the program’s 229 SEC titles have come under Foley, as Gator teams have claimed 130 league titles. The Gators collected the 2015-16 men’s, women’s and overall SEC All-Sports Trophies, marking the 15th sweep for the Gators as Florida is the only league team to take all three in a single season.
Florida averaged a NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 85.2 percent since it started in 11 years ago — the second-highest in the league over that time frame. The Gator athletic program is the only league school to place 100 or more student-athletes on SEC Academic Honor Rolls each of the last 19 years. Under Foley, UF student-athletes have been honored as Academic All-Americans 105 times, the highest total among sitting athletics directors and fifth best in the nation since 1992.
Florida’s attracted and supported a coaching staff that certainly stands among the nation’s overall top personnel. Coach of the Year honors have been collected at the conference level 111 times and 28 times at the national level.
He also oversaw a budget that grew from $30 million in the 1991-92 academic year to $119.3 million for the upcoming season. Each year under Foley, Florida has posted a balanced budget, and is one of 24 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs to post positive net gains in 2014. The athletic department, which served 366 student-athletes in 1992, now has 479 for the 2015-16 academic year.
As chief financial officer for the University Athletic Association (UAA), Foley has spearheaded a number of capital improvement projects in the athletic department involving every athletic facility, including two expansion projects to the football stadium. Florida has invested $307 million in capital improvement projects since 1999 and currently has $90 million invested in current projects. The UAA is currently waiting on the results of a major facility feasibility study that will address facility improvements in a number of sports with emphasis on football, baseball and softball.
The State of Florida has a big decision to make in the coming months. A statue of a Confederate general will be removed from the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, and Florida will be without a representative in the hall. And Floridians want someone who can represent them well.
So why not Tim Tebow?
Florida Senator Marco Rubio took to Twitter to suggest replacing the controversial statue with a statue of former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
Floridians are being asked to submit suggestions to replace a statute of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, which has represented Florida in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall for nearly a century. It is being removed with legislative approval.
Tebow is one of the most celebrated players in Florida history, as a part of two national championships and the greatest four-year run in Florida’s history. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2007, becoming just the third player in Florida history to win the award. Tebow still has an extreme cult following among football fans.
Florida has even built a statue of him outside of Florida Field.
He certainly is a great Floridian. However, Florida State fans might not want to vote for one of its greatest antagonists in this extremely divided state. Somehow though, Tebow may finish much higher than he otherwise might have and get immortalized in the Capitol for the next century.