Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Let me preface what I’m about to say by acknowledging that if Tim Tebow is cleared medically to play this Saturday against LSU, keeping him off the field is going to be next to impossible.
|AP Photo/John Raoux|
|Florida backup quarterback John Brantley might be the best starter for the Gators this Saturday.|
But if you’re Urban Meyer, do you sit Tebow regardless this week?
Unless something breaks later today or Wednesday, the Gators' star quarterback is going to go 10-plus days without any football-related activity. Even for Tebow, it’s tough to come back and play in a game of this magnitude and against a defense as talented as LSU’s when you haven’t done anything for almost two weeks.
But there’s also the bigger picture to think about.
I have no doubt that if Tebow is cleared, the medical staff at Florida is confident that he’s fit for contact again.
Concussions, though, are unbelievably tricky. Coming back too soon can lead to so many other problems down the road, which gets us back to Meyer and the decision he has to make if he gets the green light from the doctors.
Anybody who’s spent any time around Meyer knows he’s going to do whatever gives him the best chance to win this game. Is that with a rusty Tebow who’s coming off a concussion or with a healthy John Brantley who’s been practicing every day?
It's hard to imagine Meyer not going with Tebow if he gets the OK from doctors, but there's a relationship between those two that goes much deeper than a coach and a player. Meyer will have to be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that putting Tebow back out there so soon after a concussion won't put him at further risk.
After all, as big as this game is, it’s not the end-all for the Gators, not in terms of the SEC championship and not even in terms of the BCS national championship.
Florida could lose this game and still get to the SEC Championship Game by winning the rest of its games. The Gators would own the head-to-head tiebreaker with all of their Eastern Division rivals by winning out.
And if the Gators were to get to Atlanta with one loss and win the SEC title, particularly if they beat a highly ranked Alabama or LSU team, recent history has shown that they would be one of the top two teams in the final BCS standings and get a chance to play for their second straight national title.
Imagine, too, the pop the Gators get by going to LSU and winning with their backup quarterback.
Like most coaches, Meyer can’t see past this weekend. That’s what makes him so good. He’s beyond meticulous, but he’s also smart.
If the decision gets to him, he’ll make the right one.
And here’s betting that nobody outside that locker room will know for sure until the Gators run out for pregame warm-ups on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.