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South Carolina's Steve Spurrier repentant after admitting his all-SEC ballot tripped up Florida Gators' Tim Tebow

South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier says his ballot for the coaches’ all-SEC football team, filled out by someone else, was the one that kept Tim Tebow from being a unanimous pick.

Associated Press

South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier says his ballot for the coaches’ all-SEC football team, filled out by someone else, was the one that kept Tim Tebow from being a unanimous pick.

. fast facts

All-SEC team

The preseason All-SEC football team, voted on by league media, with total votes in parentheses:

Offense

TE—D.J. Williams, Arkansas (38)

OL—Ciron Black, LSU (60)

OL—Mike Johnson, Alabama (55)

OL—John Jerry, Mississippi (49)

OL—Mike Pouncey, Florida (35)

C—Maurkice Pouncey, Florida (39)

WR—Julio Jones, Alabama (58)

WR—A.J. Green, Georgia (53)

QB—Tim Tebow, Florida (61)

RB—Charles Scott, LSU (59)

RB—Michael Smith, Arkansas (48)

Defense

DL—Terrence Cody, Alabama (55)

DL—Greg Hardy, Mississippi (53)

DL—Carlos Dunlap, Florida (46)

DL—Antonio Coleman, Auburn (32)

LB—Brandon Spikes, Florida (61)

LB—Rolando McClain, Alabama (50)

LB—Eric Norwood, South Carolina (38)

DB—Eric Berry, Tennessee (62)

DB—Trevard Lindley, Kentucky (50)

DB—Joe Haden, Florida (45)

DB—Javier Arenas, Alabama (23)

Special Teams

PK—Leigh Tiffin, Alabama (31)

P—Chas Henry, Florida (43)

RS—Brandon James, Florida (35)

HOOVER, Ala. — Steve Spurrier cleared up the biggest mystery at SEC media days: How Tim Tebow got left off one ballot for the coaches' preseason all-SEC football first team.

Spurrier said Friday that South Carolina's director of football operations, Jamie Speronis, filled out his ballot and voted for Mississippi's Jevan Snead.

The other coaches picked Tebow, the Gators' Heisman Trophy winner two years ago.

"We screwed it up pretty badly," said Spurrier, who approved the ballot. "I'm embarrassed about it."

Spurrier said he apologized to Tebow and that the SEC has let him amend the ballot to add Tebow.

The former Florida coach and quarterback — also a Heisman winner — called Tebow the best player in the country. He said Tebow and ex-Gator Danny Wuerffel might go down as the best quarterbacks in college football history.

Spurrier said he has never filled out a preseason All-SEC ballot himself. "I haven't done that in 17 years," he said. "I usually look it over, and I sign off on it. I did a poor job of looking it over this year."

Tracking down the lone coach who picked Snead was a weeklong quest.

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin even brought his ballot to the stage with him and showed it to an SEC staffer, who confirmed his Tebow pick. He said he had help filling out the ballot, "but I was obviously a big part of it."

Big favorite: Sixty-three of the 64 media voters picked Florida to win the conference championship. Ole Miss received the other vote.

The Gators also became the first unanimous pick to win a divisional crown since 1992, when the format began. Georgia was the second-place choice in the East, followed by South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Alabama was the top choice in the West (33 first-place votes), followed by LSU (15), Ole Miss (16), Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi State.

Kiffin's mission: Kiffin made no secret that he wanted to make a splash at Tennessee, drawing recruits and attention.

So the brash 34-year-old coach wasn't apologizing for the often-brash tactics he has used, even if it has meant rankling other coaches and fans.

"We had to put Tennessee in the national media," Kiffin said. "Do I love every single thing I've done for my seven months? No, I haven't loved having to do it. But it needed to be done, in my opinion, for us to get to where we needed to be."

Kiffin, a former Southern California assistant who was 5-15 with the NFL's Oakland Raiders, has piled up the flammable comments, which included accusing Florida's Urban Meyer of cheating after national signing day.

Kiffin's comments have been warmly received among his players, safety Eric Berry said.

"Just seeing somebody having that type of faith in us after a 5-7 season, who wouldn't want to play for him?" Berry said. "Who wouldn't want to put themselves on the line for him? That's what we're doing right now in this offseason."

A Tad repentant: Before Kiffin, Spurrier might have been the league's most outspoken coach, a reputation that dates to his days at Florida.

"It's something I'm often asked: 'Do you wish you hadn't said this years ago?' " Spurrier said. "Probably, looking back, I was a little arrogant and probably said too many things. But when you're winning a lot and winning sort of big, you naturally do that."

Now? "I think we all try to let our teams do the talking for you as a coach," Spurrier said.

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier repentant after admitting his all-SEC ballot tripped up Florida Gators' Tim Tebow 07/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 25, 2009 12:37am]
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