You know what's been the most refreshing part of the 2013 NFL season thus far? The absence of TebowMania. It's amazing what can happen when ESPN discovers there are 1695 other players in the NFL worth discussing. Things are back to normal and my blood pressure is a few points lower.
After a preseason stint with the Patriots and more than half of the season done without Tebow linking up with another professional team, it looks like the quarterback's NFL career is over for all intents and purposes. Faced with the choice of going to Canada to or entering television, it looks like Tebow is preparing himself to move in front of the cameras according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
Tim Tebow hired prominent broadcast agent CAA’s Nick Khan to join Jimmy Sexton in repping him. If no NFL, will look at college TV jobs.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 10, 2013
Let's go over the possible options for Tebow with the networks that cover college football on a regular basis…
NBC – Notre Dame broadcasts are already filled to the brim and there's absolutely no connection between Tebow and the Fighting Irish. Unless he wants to work his way up the ladder and begin his broadcasting career by calling Ivy League Football, then no.
Fox – This network has a brand new cable channel desperate for eyeballs and a new Saturday morning pregame show desperate to gain any traction whatsoever. Fox College Saturday just isn't getting blown out by College GameDay, it's getting blown out by My Little Pony on The Hub. (Seriously, look up the numbers.) Tim Tebow would add name recognition and starpower Fox's college football is severely lacking outside Erin Andrews, who hasn't been enough to draw an audience to this point.
But does Tim Tebow really fit in at Fox Sports? The network airs predominantly Big Ten and Pac 12 football, which again has little connection to Tebow. Then there is the whole prospect of a weekly segment where Clay Travis stalks Tim Tebow's sex life, which I don't think anyone is interested in seeing.
CBS – Now we begin to get to the real contenders. CBS and their SEC football package is a seamless fit for Tebow given his history with the conference. While it's hard to imagine CBS might wedge Tebow into the congenial partnership of Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson for a 3 man booth, there should be a seat open in their studio with Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman among others.
Another question worth pondering is just how good is Tebow going to be on television out of the gates. Since CBS has a limited package, it could be a better opportunity for Tebow to not be overexposed and grow into the role in the CBS studio. (How about that for irony.) Then there's the CBS Sports Network, which could be a nice training ground for Tebow as a college football analyst given the relatively small distribution of the network. If Tebow and his camp are looking for a safer option with an audience that still knows him as one of the greatest college QBs of all-time and not an NFL debate point, CBS could be the best destination.
ESPN – You think ESPN is going to let Tim Tebow enter television and not try to sign him? I'm surprised an ESPN Task Force hasn't already taken him into some kind of Bristol, CT warehouse for reprogramming! This is a network that spent every waking minute of the last 2 years talking about, debating, discussing, and obsessing over Tim Tebow. This is a network that spent an entire day celebrating his birthday and also treated him throwing footballs into trash cans as news stories. Of course ESPN is going to be interested in bringing Tebow home to Bristol for TebowMania: The Analyst. Who knows what ESPN would be willing to give to sign Tim Tebow – they may write him a blank check and ask him to put whatever amount on it he likes to get the job done, they may offer him his own network, they may even let him anchor SportsCenter with Ken Jeong.
And with ESPN owning college football, there are a million options in Tebow joining ESPN. He could be a contributor to College GameDay, an analyst that appears predominantly on SportsCenter, babysit Mark May and Lou Holtz, step into a broadcast booth, or even spend some time on ESPNU.
But there's one option that may be the best of all for Tim Tebow and ESPN – the SEC Network.
Tebow is the best SEC player in a generation. And next year when ESPN launches the SEC Network next year it's going to need people with ties to the league to feature on the network. Besides Paul Finebaum of course. SEC Network would be the best fit for Tebow because of the audience, the regional exposure, and the reps he could get as an analyst. And he could appear on ESPN whenever the network sees fit. If there's any of these scenarios that seems most likely, I'd be willing to lay my money on Tebow joining ESPN as an analyst for SEC Network.
Check that, he'll probably just end up being the new moderator for First Take,