Dan Mullen walked off the practice field after a grueling three-hour practice, hopped into a golf cart and made his way to speak to students at the University of Florida on Tuesday night. Mullen spoke about what it means to him to be back at the school, how excited he was to be the head football coach and then the floor was turned over for questions from the students in attendance.
As things tend to do in Gainesville, especially when Mullen is involved, Tim Tebow’s name came up.
The question from the student was, “Do you have a Tebow story, maybe when he was a freshman that kind of humanizes him? I know he’s a lot of our idols, do you have a story that would make us laugh?”
“What’s a fun Tebow story that I can tell without him getting too upset,” Mullen said eliciting laughter from the crowd.
Mullen and Tebow’s relationship goes back more than a decade to when Mullen recruited Tebow and then coached him for three seasons. The two won National Championships together and Mullen coached Tebow during his Heisman campaign. Even when Mullen left Florida prior to Tebow’s senior season the two remained close. When Tebow and the SEC Nation crew were in Starkville last season Mullen got choked up when telling Marcus Spears just what his relationship with Tebow means to him.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 16, 2017
It’s clear their bond goes far beyond football, but Mullen didn’t want to disappoint the students, so he shared a story about Tebow.
He started wit the caveat that Tebow is genuine. He doesn’t put on an act, what you see is what you get with him.
“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, seven days a week,” Mullen said. “He’s that strong in his faith 24/7, I mean always. Almost annoyingly so. What I mean by that is after you hang around him you realize what a bad person you are. Right? I could be living my life so much better. He just has so much mental toughness to live his life in a disciplined way all the time.”
That makes the story even more believable.
“I remember, I think he was either a freshman or a sophomore and we were coming out of practice. There was a girl sitting there by the benches, the whole setup was different then. There’s this girl with a cast on her leg,” Mullen began. “She’s sitting there, an undergrad student here at Florida, gorgeous girl. She’s like, ‘Tim, Tim, I did this to my leg, any chance you can sign my cast?’ He’s like oh sure, signs it ‘God Bless. Tim Tebow.’ She asks if they can take a picture, he says sure and they take the picture. Then she says, ‘would you like to go out and have some dinner sometime or something?’ He’s like ‘oh you’re so silly’ walks away and goes into the locker room. I’m walking next to him and I’m shaking my head. That is unbelievable, man. I mean, unbelievable! And just walks away into the locker room. I’m walking with him the whole time and he’s like ‘Oh, she was just being silly.’ I’m like, ‘dude she definitely was not being silly.’”
Mullen and the crowd got a good laugh but he brought it back to Tebow, or Timmy as he calls him.
“One of the hardest things he has to deal with is everybody knows Tebow. Everybody wants to see Tebow. Everybody wants to date Tebow. We got a text last night from one of our friends last night saying, hey there’s this girl, great girl, any chance she could meet Tebow? What’s really important is the people that want to know Timmy. Now I know Timmy. To me he’s still the 17-18 year old little freshman running to class here at Florida. Even though he’s all grown up but I figure he’s still Timmy. That is what, 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 wants to get to know Timmy.”