For most everyone else, it was a little over-the-top. But to Florida fans, Tim Tebow's post-game pledge, which quickly became known as "The Promise," was a critical turning point in the legend of the former Heisman-winning quarterback.

The Promise was born from a moment of devastation: Undefeated Florida, seeking a national championship, was challenged early in the SEC season by unranked Ole Miss.

Florida's offense piled up more than 440 yards, but it committed three turnovers and struggled mightily on third downs. Ole Miss squeaked out with a 31-30 win.

For the Rebels, the victory was huge. A rebuilding program now had a cornerstone victory to hang its hat on.

But Florida was in shambles. It had a talented roster and every reason to believe it would be in the mix for a national championship. Although the season was still young, the loss represented a huge setback that could have, in theory, dashed the Gators' national championship hopes.

Tim Tebow -- Heisman-winner, team rallying point, and generally deified figure of Florida football -- was particularly shaken. He had the world on his shoulders, after all, and despite a decent performance in the game, he felt like the loss was his fault first.

So after the game, he faced reporters and said this:

The overdone soundtrack to this video might suggest that Tebow was simply caught up in the heat of the moment. If so, the rest of Gator Nation was with him.

Thus The Promise was born.

In fact, the school wasted no time in commemorating that short speech by searing it onto a plague affixed to the football stadium. The case for memorializing Tebow's promise is a decent one: After that loss, Florida ran the table and won the BCS Championship following the 2008 season.

Tebow returned the following year and only lost once, in the SEC title game against Alabama. Post-Promise, Tebow went 23-1.

Dark days have descended upon Gainesville since then, with the program tanking under the leadership of Will Muschamp. But at least Gator fans can comfort themselves with not-so-distant memories of when their wet-eyed savior delivered them from tragedy.

National championship controversies have a long legacy in college football.

Back in the days of split national championships, Georgia Tech had entered the 1990 season unranked and absent of any serious expectations. Clemson and Virginia were widely seen as the top teams in the ACC.

During the course of the regular season, though, Georgia Tech flexed its dominance, going undefeated -- the lone blemish being a tie against unranked North Carolina -- and earning a No. 2 national ranking entering their final game, a Citrus Bowl matchup with No. 19 Nebraska.

The Huskers had finished runner-up in the Big 12 conference to Colorado, which held the No. 1 national ranking in both the AP and Coaches' polls, and was the favorite to walk away from the season trophy-in-hand.

But Georgia Tech made a compelling case for its own title aspirations. Against a respected Nebraska team -- which was favored by the oddsmakers despite its lower ranking -- the Yellow Jackets dominated in all phases, scoring early and often against the Blackshirts defense.

Tech's defense, meanwhile, stuffed a vaunted Nebraska running attack all game long. The Huskers only gained 126 yards on the ground, down from their average of 330 per game.

The Yellow Jackets even blocked a field goal in overwhelming fashion during the game, adding salt to Nebraska's wounds. Colorado also triumphed in its own bowl game, leading most to believe that the Buffaloes would be crowned the champion in both major football polls.

But Tech's dominance of Nebraska made a strong impression on coaches casting their ballots.

When the polls were finally released, the Yellow Jackets had slipped past Colorado in the Coaches' poll -- even though the Buffaloes entered bowl season ranked No. 1 in the country and defeated a higher-ranked opponent in their own bowl game, beating No. 5 Notre Dame, 10-9.

Colorado, which had a loss at Illinois and a neutral-site tie against Tennessee, and Georgia Tech were forced to split the national title -- and the glory of winning. But for a Tech team that emerged from obscurity, the recognition was well-received.

What Doug Flutie remembers isn't the completed pass, the ecstasy of victory, the post-game celebration after his Hail Mary pass beat Miami on the road.

His most vivid recollections of that play are all about what happened before the snap.

"There's a picture of me after the completion in one of my offensive lineman's arms," Flutie says. "There's one of me in my brother's arms. ... I asked our strong safety who caught the ball. I have those memories pretty much only because of the pictures.

"The memories I have in my mind are being in the huddle. We had a pre-snap penalty that moved us back, and there were some other things that went on before the snap. That's what I remember."

Thirty years after Flutie's last-second Hail Mary produced a game-winning touchdown and a big win for Boston College, it's fitting that the quarterback's own recollection of the moment has been molded by the perceptions of millions of college football fans.

That play, affectionately nicknamed the 'Hail Flutie,' is a classic moment in college football history. But at the time, Nov. 23, 1984, Flutie and his teammates had no idea the masses would care.

"It's amazing to me because, in the moment, it was this once-in-a-lifetime win for our program," Flutie says. "This last-second miracle, it was exciting for us.

"Then we got back in town, and Boston is a pro sports town. But there were 10,000 people waiting for us at the airport. That's when we knew something had happened."

It wasn't just Boston that was captured by the moment. The entire country had been tuned in to watch Boston College-Miami at the Orange Bowl. The game was played on Thanksgiving Day weekend, and it pitted Heisman frontrunner Flutie against a Hurricanes program that fans, in his words, "loved to hate."

The game did not disappoint. A high-scoring affair brought both teams into the fourth quarter tied at 31. Bernie Kosar set a school record for 447 yards passing, and four touchdowns from running back Melvin Bratton had appeared enough to lift Miami to victory.

And then this happened:

"Hail Marys rarely happened back then," Flutie says now. "Today it's more common. Team have gotten so much better at drawing up Hail Mary's, putting guys in position and practicing the play. It was so rare, which is what made it special."

Just a few days after he connected with Gerard Phelan for that touchdown, Flutie was awarded the Heisman Trophy for the 1984 season. He's quick to point out that the Hail Mary didn't help him win: The ballots had already been cast before they played Miami.

Instead, Flutie views the Hail Mary as a collective moment shared by so many people -- not just himself and his teammates, and not even just Boston College fans. Wherever he goes, the Hail Flutie invariably gets brought up.

That type of crystallizing moment is also a throwback of sorts. In today's hectic media climate, Flutie doesn't think his defining play would make such big waves nationally.

"Everything being so regional now, a lot of people don't find out what happened in a single game until that night when they watch highlights, or when it comes across online," Flutie says. "So they end up reading it rather than seeing it, and then later see a highlight

"You’re not as attached to the moment when it’s that way."

Thirty years later, Flutie's life has come a long way. He spent more than 20 years playing professional football, in the USFL, CFL, and finally as a starter in the NFL. He founded the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism and serves as an advisory board member for the Capital One Cup.

While a great achievement on its own, Flutie doesn't feel like his life would be any different if Gerard Phelan had dropped the pass in the end zone. Boston College could have lost and Flutie still would have won the Heisman before embarking on a long professional career.

Nonetheless, the Hail Flutie holds a special place in his heart.

"It’s a moment that you’re remembered by," Flutie says. "A lot of us [college football players], you play the sport, and then you get forgotten and move on.

"At least I had this one last moment."

Arkansas and LSU are both walking into a freight train -- meteorologically speaking. Forecasts for the game in Fayetteville, Arkansas, are projecting temperatures in the high 20s, along with snow.

Granted, that might not terrify many Golden Gophers up in Minnesota. But if you play in the SEC, you almost never face those conditions.

Of course, things could be much worse, and leading up to the game, LSU and Arkansas fans are coming together to remember one of the most brutal environments a college football game has ever played in. Both teams faced one another in the 1947 Cotton Bowl, which has since been affectionately nicknamed "The Ice Bowl."

Both teams in that game were assaulted by driving sleet, ice, snow and rain. Temperatures hovered in the 20's, but more than 45,000 fans came out to watch the game, which had sold out weeks ahead of time.

The brutal conditions were a plague on both offenses. LSU managed to get in the red zone on five different occasions but failed to put up any points. Arkansas's squad could do even less, accumulating just 54 yards in the game. The Razorbacks only managed one first down the entire game.

Passing was a nightmare. LSU managed just 16 yards through the air. The only Arkansas pass that was caught was an interception. Both teams combined to throw five-for-21.

LSU did have a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, setting up for a field-goal attempt with the ball at the four-yard line. But, true to the rest of the game's play, the snap was botched, and the kick never left the ground.

In the end, the game was won by Mother Nature. LSU and Arkansas split a tie. Even in the immediate aftermath of the game, it was clear the Ice Bowl's legacy was set. LSU coach Bernie Moore called it "the worst football weather I’ve seen in 35 years of coaching."

Less than a year ago, the Cleveland Browns head coaching job looked like a death trap. A lose-lose situation. An express lane to unemployment.

Halfway through the 2014 season, it might be the most exciting job in football.

Which is why it's all the more fun to remember the guys who turned it down.

As CBS Sports reminded us, at least six interviewed candidates wound up turning down the Browns head coaching job last winter. There may have been others that also said no to the franchise.

And in fairness, there was good reason to be skeptical. The Browns had cut bait on 2012 first-round draft pick Trent Richardson earlier in the season, then fired Rob Chudzinski after one disappointing season in which he didn't have much to work with.

The Browns weren't sure if they had any answers at quarterback, when Brian Hoyer missing most of the season due to an ACL tear. And it wasn't clear whether ownership was stable enough to give the incoming coach a fair shot at succeeding.

But Mike Pettine has made it work, and made it work perfectly. Meanwhile, the laundry list of candidates Cleveland preferred over him might be watching and wondering what might have been.

Some are not exactly hurting for opportunity. Josh McDaniels is having a successful year as New England's offensive coordinator, and Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is still basking in the limelight of last year's Super Bowl.

Denver's Adam Gase, meanwhile, might have taken the job if he had won a Super Bowl last year. Instead, his consolation is running an offense led by Peyton Manning. And Todd Bowles is living the sweet life with 8-1 Arizona, where the defense coordinator just signed a contract extension.


But not everyone's ending wound up happily ever after. Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is having a frustrating year with the 3-6 Falcons. And Greg Schiano disliked the Browns job so much he opted for unemployment instead of head coaching.

Maybe it's all for the best. Pettine has done a brilliant job getting the most out of his roster. With a stable quarterback and a strong defense, the Browns are atop a brutal AFC North in which all four teams currently have a winning record.

And when you think about it, a Cleveland sports team and a seventh-or-worse-on-the-list head coach does seem like a perfect marriage. The surprise twist is that the union is working out so well.

A rare baseball card collection destroyed five years ago in a plane crash was probably worth about $2.4 million at the time, according to a prominent auctioneer of sports memorabilia.

The value of the collection is an important detail in a new suit being waged by the family of the deceased collection owner. Douglas Wielinski was killed in Continental Connection Flight 3407 in February of 2009, returning home with a number of precious valuables on board.

One of the top items of his personal inventory is the 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card, one of the most famous and valuable cards from that era. Wielinski owned 10 of them.

Wielinski's widow and his two daughters are seeking compensation from the airline over his death, according to Buffalo.com. The value of the baseball cards will have a significant impact on how much compensation the family is entitled to.

While the collection could be worth as much as $3 million in present-day market conditions, the judge in the case will only consider the value of the collection at the time of Wielinski's death.

Another complication in the case is that, while some charred pieces of his collection were found in the crash debris, some items -- including the Mantle rookie cards -- did not survive.

In addition to baseball cards, Wielinski was also carrying collectible jigsaw puzzles and antique tintypes -- photos printed on tin -- from the Civil War.

If Brett Favre knew then what he knows now, the retired quarterback would not have taken the cameo role in the smash hit comedy There's Something About Mary.

The future Hall of Famer admitted this week that he had no idea he was the third choice for a role as Cameron Diaz's ex-boyfriend in the popular 1998 romantic comedy. In an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly said they initially approached Drew Bledsoe and Steve Young before settling on Favre.

Bledsoe was the brothers' top pick because they grew up in Rhode Island and were lifelong New England Patriots fans. But Bledsoe declined, as the filming was taking place shortly after Bledsoe made headlines for jumping off the stage at a concert and he wanted to focus on football.

Young, whom Diaz's character admits to having a crush on, declined for religious reasons.

“[After Bledsoe turned it down] we went to Steve Young," the brothers told Eisen. "And Steve Young called one day and said ‘That’s the funniest script I've ever read. But I cannot do it, because if I do it, it’s R-rated, and I know all the Mormon kids will be sneaking in and I wouldn’t feel good about that.' Stand up guy … then we went to Favre."

The film turned out to be a huge hit, the highest-grossing North American comedy from 1998 and an instant classic. It sparked the careers of both Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz. While Favre was smart not to quit his day job, his role is remembered fondly by fans of the film:

When the film debuted in 1998, Favre had just been named NFL MVP for the third straight year and he was coming off two consecutive trips to the Super Bowl. He joked that he wouldn't have done the movie had he known he was the directors' third choice, but looking back on the experience he says he had a good time.

"I just remember it being a lot of fun," Favre told Eisen. "It was something very different from what I'd been used to. If I ever felt like a rookie, this was the time. The guys were patient, very nice, enjoyed the crew. My wife and I went down, went out to dinner with the whole crew."

As one of the most successful general managers and team presidents in NFL history, few people understand how to create the blueprint for a winning football team like Bill Polian. After building the Buffalo Bills team that went to four consecutive Super Bowls and taking the expansion Carolina Panthers to the NFC championship game just two years after the team's creation, he was responsible for the Indianapolis Colts drafting Peyton Manning with the first overall pick in 1998 and oversaw the team's victory in Super Bowl XLI. Now, Polian shares his blueprint for building a successful football team in The Game Plan: The Art Of Building A Winning Football Team. In this excerpt, Polian analyzes his trade of Marshall Faulk to the Rams and opting for Edgerrin James rather than Ricky Williams in the draft.

The most significant move after our first season, and a highly controversial one, was when we traded Marshall Faulk. That was quite the controversy, and I’m not sure that the story behind it has ever been fully told. Marshall, who would go on to become a Hall of Famer, was phenomenal with the ball in his hands. He was perhaps the best route runner of any back I have ever seen.

Marshall was darn good at running the football because he had home-run speed and he could make people miss. The only thing that he couldn’t do as a runner was short-yardage and goal-line power running because he wasn’t that big. Also, the way that Tom Moore, our offensive coordinator, and Howard Mudd, our offensive line coach, had constructed the offensive system, there were times when the running back was a blocker, which wasn’t Marshall’s strong suit, either. But he was a Hall of Famer in every respect.

The problem we had with Marshall was his dissatisfaction with his contract, and I couldn’t blame him. It was excessively long and bound him in ways that his agent surely regretted after it was signed.

Marshall was a much, much better player than the deal had called for. But we couldn’t renegotiate it because the money he wanted, or anticipated getting under the cap, would have squeezed us terribly. To Marshall’s credit, he played his heart out for every single game through the ’98 season. He never indicated any lack of intensity or effort on the field.

Not surprisingly, his agent approached me soon after the seasonto let me know there was going to be a holdout. Knowing that it was coming and that it wasn’t going to be pleasant and that it would have been devastating for a young team to handle, we decided to see if we could trade Marshall, who was at the peak of his career. We were asking for a one and a two and I inferred that less than a one, with some other combination, would do it. Surprisingly, we didn’t have many takers.

We finally ended up trading Marshall to the St. Louis Rams for second- and fifth-round draft choices. The trade was announced the day before the 1999 draft, and other than Jim Irsay and Jim Mora, not many people in the organization knew it was coming. When word got out about the deal, it was earth-shattering news at our facility. The building was very small by the standards of NFL team headquarters today, so I could hear some people yelling, "What? No! They can't do that!"

But that was only the first half of what would initially be seen as a very unpopular doubleheader. The next day, we used the fourth overall pick on the lesser known of the two top running backs in the draft: Edgerrin James of the University of Miami. Ricky Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas, was the household name that most people thought we would select. Instead, the New Orleans Saints chose him with the next pick, which they acquired by trading their entire draft (plus their first- and third-round picks in 2000) to the Redskins, because that was how badly they wanted Ricky Williams.

As we were just getting ready to wrap up for the day, Dom Anile, our personnel director, tossed his car keys to Tom Telesco, one of our scouts, who is now general manager of the Chargers.

"Here, Tommy, go start my car," Dom said. We all laughed at the implications of that statement.

Despite the public outcry, Dom and I had no hesitation about our pick whatsoever. The reason media analysts and fans knew a lot less about Edgerrin than they did about Ricky was because the NCAA had placed Miami on probation and, therefore, the Hurricanes' only nationally televised game the previous season was against UCLA. In our mind, there really was no comparison between the two.

For one thing, the way Ricky carried himself, the way that he lived his life, was entirely inconsistent with being a good football player. Second, we weren't convinced that he really cared about football. Third, when you broke it down, Ricky was good, but not great, and that was what he turned out to be as a pro -- good, but not great. I don't know whether or not his love of football held him back because he had great gifts, but he obviously didn't distinguish himself.

Edgerrin, on the other hand, had incredible gifts to go along with a clear love for the game and desire to excel. Although he was a scholarship player at Miami, Edgerrin had to earn his playing time. He told us that if it weren't for some bad luck for Frank Gore and Willis McGahee with injuries, he might not have ever gotten a chance to play. Edgerrin also described Frank as the most gifted running back he had ever seen, and Frank has subsequently demonstrated as much during his career with the 49ers.

Edgerrin’s interview with us was tremendous, while Ricky's was the complete opposite. We decided to meet with Ricky at our facility because we were told that he really didn’t like going out to restaurants. We catered a big dinner for him from St. Elmo’s, the famous Indianapolis steak house, in a conference room. Ricky walked in, sat down and was essentially non-communicative.

On top of that, Ricky had done very poorly in his pre-draft workout. He ran something like a 4.75-second 40-yard dash. He certainly didn't match up with Edgerrin in terms of the numbers and that told us that he wouldn't be a good fit in our offense. We used a zone-blocking scheme, which means the blockers are moving laterally and are essentially taking defenders where they want to go. The running back has to have patience, wait to see the hole open, and then tremendous vision and acceleration to get through the hole. He has to go from a geared-down state to a hundred miles an hour.

Ricky’s acceleration in the hole was average at best. He was much better suited to a power running system, where he would use all of that body mass that he had and the explosion he had to get to the hole and maybe run over people. Then, when he was out in the open, he could throw it into fourth gear.

Adding to the initial criticism we received for choosing Edgerrin over Ricky was the fact that before signing his contract, Edgerrin held out for a couple of weeks, which caused him to miss our rookie camp. We played him sparingly in the first preseason game, but he saw more extensive action in our second, at New Orleans.

I was seated in the Superdome press box with Dom and Chris. We were one booth away from the owner, so we could see Jim Irsay and Jim could see us. With the offense down in the red zone, we ran an outside stretch play to the right, and Edgerrin ripped off about a seven- or eight-yard gain. We ran the very same play again, and this time Edgerrin made two guys miss before running about 15 yards for a touchdown.

I looked over at Jim, he looked over at me and gave the thumbs up.

We wound up going 13–3 in our second season, a complete reversal of our first year and the biggest one-season turnaround in league history.

-- Excerpted by permission from The Game Plan: The Art Of Building A Winning Football Team by Bill Polian with Vic Carucci. Copyright (c) 2014 by Bill Polian and Vic Carucci. Published by Triumph Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available for purchase from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

Florida State has one of college football's coolest traditions with its Sod Cemetery. The idea is simple but its effect is profound.

Whenever the Seminoles post a big win as an underdog away from home, the team captains return to Tallahassee with a cut of grass or turf from the game site. Gridiron booty.

There are some exceptions such as all bowls and games at archrival Florida being included, but if Florida State is favored to lose on the road and the Seminoles end up winning, it's time to do some digging.

The first sod game took place on Oct. 20, 1962. The Seminoles were playing at Georgia. Before the team traveled to face the favored Bulldogs, a long-time professor and member of Florida's athletic board named Dean Coyle Moore decided to give the players a little extra motivation.

"Bring back some sod from between the hedges at Georgia," Moore said.

The Seminoles won just four games that season, but the upset at Georgia, 18-0, was one of them, and a tradition was born. Captains Gene McDowell and Red Dawson brought a small piece of grass back from Sanford Stadium and gave it to Moore. Moore and coach Bill Peterson buried it on the practice field, and eventually a monument area was created to house the growing number of sod chunks.

"I just remember what it meant to play in sod games," 1993 Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward told the New York Times. "You took pride in knowing you were on the road, and you were supposed to lose."

Ward's first road game as Florida State's starting quarterback was a sod game. The Seminoles were playing at Clemson, and it was also their first road game as a member of the ACC.

Ward had four interceptions that day against the Tigers but also threw the winning touchdown pass with two minutes left to give the Seminoles a 24-20 win.

In all, Ward played in five sod games with the final being the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1994, when the Seminoles beat Nebraska 18-16 to win their first national championship.

Before he was a hero in Washington for beating the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, before he was a starter for the Cleveland Browns and even before he led the Texas Longhorns to the national championship game, Colt McCoy was a pitchman for his uncle's pharmacy.

Now that McCoy has led the Redskins to a pair of improbable victories, an old video has turned up on Larry Brown Sports of McCoy acting as spokesman for his uncle's pharmacy in Texas.

McCoy is 17 in this 2003 video and a star at Jim Ned High School in Tuscola, Texas.

Awkward, yes, but remember that McCoy is still a higher schooler here. Pros like Dustin Pedroia and Joe Flacco have starred in spots that are much worse than this one.

While Washington coaches insist Robert Griffin III will be the starting quarterback once he's healthy, McCoy's solid performance in his home state on Monday night (he was 25-for-30 for 299 yards and he ran for a score) should buy him some time. Washington takes on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

If McCoy keeps up the strong play, he should earn himself enough publicity to star in another commercial. And it's safe to say the next one will be better than his first.

Syndicate content