FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The 5-0 Florida Gators are climbing up the polls and exciting their fan base once again, but Tim Tebow isn't ready to jump on that bandwagon, yet.
The New York Jets backup quarterback still closely follows his alma mater and is excited about the turnaround of the program. Since leaving the Gators following his senior season in 2009, Florida has looked nothing like the team that won two BCS National Championships and two SEC titles with Tebow under center — that is until now.
In the past two years, the Gators were a combined 15-11 in the regular season. The rise to No. 4 in the AP Poll this week is perhaps a return to prominence for head coach Will Muschamp, now in his second year in Gainesville. When asked by Yahoo! Sports and the Dr. Saturday blog, Tebow wasn't yet ready to endorse his former program as a national championship contender despite the hot start to the season.
"I believe in them, I believe in coach Muschamp and the players there even if I don't know a lot of them now," Tebow said before answering if the team can win a national championship. "I don't know; it's too early to say. I know they're making a lot of Gator Nation proud right now."
Tebow's knowledge of the program and Gators lore is practically epic. He admits to growing up as a Gators fan, but he had to change that mindset once he entered high school.
"I was a huge Florida fan, but then when I got to high school and started getting recruited, I had more of an open mind and a for long time I wasn't even looking at Florida as going there at a school," Tebow said.
"I took a lot of visits to 'Bama and I looked at a lot of schools. I was really at that time - I really wasn't trying to be a Florida fan."
This weekend, Tebow will be watching on television as the Gators play at Vanderbilt in a nationally televised game. Even though the Commodores are struggling this season at 2-3, the old Gators quarterback knows that the trip to Nashville could be a pitfall.
"We usually do pretty good at Vanderbilt, they always give us a good game. We always find a way to win; shoot, my freshmen year, I recovered an onside kick to win verse Vanderbilt," Tebow said. "We always have close games but we find a way to win."
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York, contributes to The Jets Blog and is on Twitter @KristianRDyer