Prior to Kentucky’s matchup against Florida back on September 8, Tim Tebow managed to rile the Big Blue Nation up like no other. The former Kentucky rival became the enemy of the fanbase once more.
“Kentucky’s facilities aren’t good enough to compete,” he said on SEC Nation at the time.
He immediately received backlash from the Kentucky fanbase, with the official UK Football account even calling him out for the comments.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 8, 2018
The Wildcats made a 713-mile trek to Gainesville and dominated the Gators on both sides of the football, pulling off the 27-16 victory. In case you forgot (you didn’t), it was the first time in 31 years Kentucky defeated the almighty Florida Gators.
Kentucky star running back Benny Snell couldn’t help but call out Tebow after the victory, either:
Benny Snell, y’all. pic.twitter.com/DEHWavw6uT
— Connor O'Gara (@cjogara) September 9, 2018
After the loss, Tebow didn’t take the time to congratulate the Wildcats for their efforts against his beloved Gators. Nothing about Benny Snell’s 175-yard performance or Terry Wilson carving up the UF defense through the air and on the ground.
Instead, he criticized Florida for being cocky and taking Kentucky lightly.
Here was his interaction on ESPN’s First Take:
Tim Tebow: First time in 31 years, you can’t do that! You can’t do that.
Molly Qerim: “Come on, you’re supposed to be the inspirational one.”
Tim Tebow: “Not always! Listen, it was tough. 31 years… I wasn’t even born the last time Kentucky beat Florida. Are you kidding me?
I think Florida’s [moving] in the right direction. I think Dan Mullen’s going to get them there. I think it’s going to take a change in mindset. I was at practice Thursday before the Kentucky game and I spoke to the team, obviously that didn’t do a lot of good.
There was a confidence, but in my opinion it wasn’t the right type of confidence. It was a confidence of ‘hey we’re Florida, we’re talented, we’ve got a lot of draft picks.’
Listen, draft picks don’t win games. Great players win games, OK? There’s a difference between being a great player and being a talented player. Florida’s talented players need to be great players.
Fast forward two months, and Kentucky is competing for an SEC East title and SEC Championship bid against the Georgia Bulldogs. With so much on the line, Tebow and the SEC Nation crew have set up shop in Lexington, Kentucky to break down one of the biggest football games in program history.
And you better believe the players and coaches went out of their way to show off the Kentucky football facilities with the former Heisman winner and national champion in attendance.
After the tour, Tebow talked to KSR about his experience, where he backtracked on his negative opinion of the facilities.
“I actually just came from seeing a bunch of the facilities,” Tebow said. “So many people, holy cow. They are very nice, definitely parts of the facilities. The weight room, I really like it. The locker room is really sweet.”
Tebow wanted to clarify his comments a bit, saying he was more referring to the stadium size, not necessarily the quality of the facilities.
“I was more referring to the size of the stadium when I was talking about the facilities,” Tebow said. “But they’ve definitely made a huge improvement to the stadium, I think especially to be able to show recruits that piece of it is a big deal. It gives them a fighting chance.”
The former Florida quarterback said the vibe around Lexington just feels different than past years. The program isn’t built on hope going forward like when Stoops first arrived, there is tangible success in the form of wins.
“There’s a really good vibe here,” he said. “People are really excited. This is probably the most excited they’ve been in over a decade. There’s real belief and real optimism. I think the good thing for Kentucky fans is that it’s not just this year. In the past, it’s been good for the first five games, but they hadn’t played anybody yet. In the past, they’ve had a big upset, but how do you sustain it?”
Tebow says player development has separated Kentucky from the rest of the SEC, and it’s a big reason why they’re in the position to win the division this afternoon. They’re “special.”
“Now, how Coach Stoops is developing players, everyone is like “Well Josh Allen, we’re going to lose him.” Josh Allen came in at 210 pounds and now he’s 260 and he came in because no one else wanted him. Now he’s going to leave as a top pick in the draft. It’s not just about getting recruits, it’s about developing these young men. And that’s where I think Kentucky has done a better job than most everyone else in the SEC, developing young players that a lot of other people didn’t want and making them better and making them better players. Also, the chemistry, bringing them together. They also play hard. That’s that mixture that makes Kentucky special right now,” Tebow said.
The Kentucky football team saw $120 million in Kroger Field upgrades and built a $45 million dollar practice facility. In fact, Florida visited Lexington to model their own facility upgrades after Kentucky’s.
And considering they’re 7-1 with a shot at the SEC East crown this afternoon, I’d say those investments did more than enough to help the Cats compete.
Let’s take it one step further with a division championship against the Bulldogs.