Forgive John Brantley if there might have been a little part of him that just wanted to get this…
It's Tough Being John Brantley
You: Hey! Mom! Great to talk to you. Was just calling to let you know I passed the California state bar! Only took me one time, too!
Mom: Oh, you went to law school? Well, have you talked to your brother? Because he just got back from Cambodia where he spent the past year working with indigenous tribes. Now the entire country has electricity and running water! AND somehow he also managed to finish up his Ph. D. in quantum physics while he was over there. Bless his heart, I don't know when he found the time. What was it you wanted to talk about again…
No matter what Brantley does, I don't know if it's going to be good enough.
Take a look at the media frenzy surrounding him already. Fox Sports has a headline for him: WWTTD? (Clever, I like it.) ESPN makes Brantley the "Sunday Conversation" and still manages to talk Timmy… Who are we really talking about here? Why can't we move on?
I hate to say this, and I mean REALLY hate to say this, but it reminds me of Ron Zook. A little. Sure, Brantley doesn't have a website called johnbrantleysucks.com, unlike the immediate creation of fireronzook.com, but you can't help but see the similarities.
Spurrier was a golden god at Florida long before he became the butt of a cruel joke in South Carolina. Zook had no chance.
And as much as Florida fans want to embrace Brantley and want him to usher in a new shining post-Tebow era at Florida, let's be realistic: Gators have become accustomed to a certain standard of winning. If this guy falls short, they will have no mercy. I know, because I've seen it before.
Florida fans were Tebow obsessed when they had a legitimate Heisman candidate at quarterback with Chris Leak. Leak was booed off the field against Kentucky so fans could get another taste of Tebow. If they are willing to boo the guy that made 41-14 forever significant in the minds of the Gator Nation, what are they going to do to Brantley after he throws his first pick?
So, I guess that's why I'm a little more than concerned for this kid.
Florida fans bleed orange and blue. Of this there is no doubt. But for the last four years, Florida fans have had another object of devotion, and simply put, I'm not sure how they will react now that the golden calf is chewing his cud on the sideline in the Mile High City.
I'm not doubting Brantley's capability. While he has only thrown 76 passes, he completed more than 70 percent with 54 for 645 yards and 10 touchdowns. Granted this mileage came against the likes of Northeastern Centennial State University Southwest, but everyone can agree the guy has a cannon.
The real test will be whether he can continue to handle the deluge of Tebow questions and comparisons without drowning in the flood.
When asked how many questions he's answered about Tebow, his response: "Countless. Can't even count the number."
But Brantley has "nothing but respect" for the guy whose shadow he's been in for the past three years -- and who knows how long that will continue for him. But the respect probably comes with good reason. It's not like he was Aaron Rogers waiting under Brett Favre for his starts, with the constant back and forth of "will I play, is he coming back?" Brantley knew his role and took advantage of Timmy's tutelage. He's patiently waited for this day to come.
But this Saturday does begin a new era of Florida football. The post-Tebow era. I doubt it will be the apocalypse that most in the media feel it will be without Tebow at the helm in Florida. Brantley is no slouch. He was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2006. He also beat Tebow's state record of 98 touchdowns with 99 of his own.
Let's hope for his sake it isn't the only time in his career he one-ups the big guy.
Kori Frederick is a Gator first and a patriot second. Or fifth. She's currently living in Atlanta working for Fox Sports South and has been referred to as "Queen of the Internet." She writes for FoxSportsSouth.com as well.
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