GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida football coach Dan Mullen made his fifth speaking appearance since last month, and just as in the previous Q & A sessions with fans he was asked yet again about former Gators star quarterback Tim Tebow on Tuesday night.
Mullen, who was the Gators offensive coordinator during Tebow’s time with the program, remains close to his former star pupil. His Twitter photo is of he and Tebow, and he has previously said he’d like to get the Heisman Trophy winner back involved with the Florida program in the future.
He reiterated some of the same sentiments Tuesday night to a crowd of students at the University Auditorium when asked if he had a good, humanizing Tebow story he could share.
“Let me think, what’s a fun Tebow story that I can tell that won’t get him too upset,” Mullen said.
“Here’s the one thing I will say about Timmy, it is this. Everything you see about him is real. None of it’s fake, none of it’s a show. He is that way 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He’s that strong in his faith 24-7. I mean, almost annoyingly so. What I mean by that is after being around him, you realize what a bad person you are, right? You know, I could be living my life so much better,” Mullen joked, drawing laughs. “He just has so much mental toughness to live his life in a disciplined way all the time.”
A story did come to mind as he was talking. Mullen said it was either Tebow’s freshman or sophomore year, and as the team was walking out of practice there was an attractive girl sitting on a bench with a cast on her leg.
“She’s like ‘Tim, Tim, any chance you can sign my cast?’ He’s like, ‘Oh, sure.’ Signs the cast. She says, ‘Oh my God, that’s the sweetest thing, can I get a picture?’ ‘Oh, sure.’ He takes the picture. She’s like, ‘Would you like to go out and have some dinner sometime or something?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, you’re so silly.’ He walks in and goes by. I’m just walking right next to him, I’m shaking my head, like, ‘That is unbelievable, man,'” Mullen said. “… He’s like, ‘Oh, she was just being silly.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, she was definitely not being silly.’ But he is that genuine, that good of person, he cares that much. What you see about him is real 24 hours, 7 days a week.”
The two were together earlier this month for Tebow’s charity golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Bech, Fla., and Mullen helped host a local event as part of Tebow’s “Night to Shine” movement to give children with special needs a prom-like experience.
While Tebow has left football behind to give professional baseball a try, his fame remains strong as ever, due in large part to the image he’s created and the work he does away from sports.
Mullen put that in perspective while talking about his former QB.
“I love him to death and he’s a great person, and one of the hardest things he has to deal with is everybody knows Tebow. Everybody wants to see Tebow. Everybody wants to date Tebow,” he said. “We got a text last night from one of our friends, ‘Hey, this girl, she’s a great girl, is there any chance she could [meet] Tebow?’ What’s really important is the people who want to know Timmy. I know Timmy. To me, he’s still the 17, 18-year-old little freshman here at Florida. Even though he’s a worldwide figure, he’s still Timmy. And the Timmy I know is still such a special person even though the whole world wants to meet Tebow. I think it’s really hard for him to distinguish who wants to meet Tebow and who really wants to get to know Timmy.”