Gainesville, Fla. — Tim Tebow started to walk off stage, then called an audible. The Florida quarterback turned around, grabbed the microphone and told teammates, coaches and fans exactly what they wanted to hear.
“Oh, by the way, let’s do it again. I’m coming back,” Tebow said.
Tebow thrilled more than 40,000 at the school’s national championship celebration Sunday by announcing plans to return for his senior season, with hopes of leading the Gators to their first undefeated season and fourth national title.
“Overall, I just felt loyal to this place,” Tebow said. “I feel like I’m a role model, and a lot of times people start things and don’t finish them. I didn’t want to be like that. I wanted to be loyal to the university. I wanted to finish what I started and play another year.”
Tebow threw 32 touchdown passes in 2007, ran for 23 more scores and became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. He did less this season, but accomplished more by leading Florida to its second national title in three years.
Tebow completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,746 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also led the team in rushing for the second straight year, gaining 673 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound left-hander was 18-of-30 passing for 231 yards, with two and two interceptions in Thursday night’s 24-14 victory against Oklahoma in the Bowl Championship Series title game. He also ran for 109 yards, most of it in the second half.
There was speculation he might head to the NFL, especially since he has talked about wanting a bigger platform to share his religious message and expand his community work, but Tebow said he never strongly considered leaving early.
Broncos tap McDaniels
Englewood, Colo. — The Denver Broncos apparently have turned from “The Mastermind” to “The Wunderkid.”
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has agreed to take over the Broncos, ESPN reported Sunday night. The network said the 32-year-old McDaniels will be introduced as Denver’s new coach today.
The Broncos did not respond to phone messages and e-mails from the Associated Press seeking comment.
McDaniels would replace Mike Shanahan, who was fired Dec. 30 after 14 seasons with three years and $21 million left on his contract. He’s the only one of six NFL head coaches to ever get fired by the team for which he won back-to-back Super Bowls.
The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News also reported the hiring on their Web sites.
McDaniels is a rising star who has spent his entire eight-year NFL coaching career in New England, where he worked his way up from personnel assistant in the scouting department to offensive coordinator for Bill Belichick.
Ogilvy takes Mercedes
Kapalua, Hawaii — Geoff Ogilvy has opened the PGA Tour season with a six-shot victory in the Mercedes-Benz Championship, overcoming a choppy start at Kapalua by closing with a 5-under 68.
It wasn’t as easy as the margin indicates.
The former U.S. Open champion had a six-shot lead going into the final round on a rain-softened Plantation Course, but after making four bogeys on his first seven holes, he stood in the ninth fairway with his lead down to one shot over Anthony Kim.
Hansen prevails at Joburg
Johannesburg, South Africa — Denmark’s Anders Hansen won the Joburg Open for his third career European tour title, birdieing the final hole for a 5-under 66 and a one-stroke victory over South Africa’s Andrew McLardy.
Hansen finished with a 15-under 269 total at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington. McLardy shot a 68. Scotland’s David Drysdale (69) finished third, two strokes back in the event also sanctioned by the Sunshine tour.
Henderson headed to Hall?
New York — Rickey Henderson almost certainly will get a ticket to Cooperstown. The question is if baseball’s career leader in runs and stolen bases will have any company.
Henderson is a near lock to be elected to the Hall of Fame when voting results from the 10-year members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America are announced today.
While Henderson was one of 10 newcomers on the ballot, this is the 15th and final chance for Jim Rice and Tommy John before their cases are passed on to the Veterans Committee.
Just 23 players were on the ballot, the smallest group ever. The other holdovers were Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.
The other newcomers were Jay Bell, David Cone, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, Jesse Orosco, Dan Plesac, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn and Matt Williams.
Ranger SS balks at switch
The Texas Rangers are exploring trade options for five-time All-Star shortstop Michael Young at the player’s request after he became upset about the team’s plan to move him to third base.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Sunday night during a hastily called conference call that the team has looked into trade possibilities but remains hopeful Young will remain in Texas.
“Our desire is for Michael to play third base,” Daniels said. “Obviously, though, he’s got to buy into what we’re doing.”
Utah AG defends probe
Salt Lake City — Utah’s attorney general is using his personal blog to answer criticism that he’s wasting state resources by investigating whether the Bowl Championship Series violates federal antitrust laws.
Mark Shurtleff contends the BCS unfairly puts Utah, and schools in other conferences like the Mountain West that don’t get an automatic bid to a BCS bowl, at a competitive and financial disadvantage. For the second time in five years, Utah finished the season undefeated and was shut out of playing in the BCS national title game, which was won by Florida.
Utah finished the season ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll after upsetting Alabama, 31-17, in the Sugar Bowl.
Shurtleff’s staff plans to review the Sherman Antitrust Act to see if a lawsuit can be filed. To succeed, Shurtleff, a Republican, would have to prove a conspiracy exists that creates a monopoly.
Saturday evening, Shurtleff used his blog to respond to his critics by noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled antitrust laws apply to NCAA athletics and that it is his duty to enforce state and federal laws.
Augustin out 10 days
Charlotte, N.C. — Charlotte Bobcats rookie point guard D.J. Augustin will be out a minimum of 10 days because of a strained abdominal muscle.
Augustin played only four minutes before leaving Saturday’s victory over Washington after aggravating the injury that has plagued him for several days. An MRI Sunday revealed the strain, leaving the Bobcats without a key member of the rotation.
Atlanta’s Horford ailing
Atlanta — Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford was held out of Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers due to a bone bruise in his right knee and will miss at least three more games.
Horford was injured in Friday’s loss at Orlando and is out indefinitely after an MRI showed the bruise, coach Mike Woodson said.
Sharapova out of Aussie
Sydney, Australia — Maria Sharapova’s shoulder injury will keep her out of another big event — the Australian Open.
Sharapova told the tournament Sunday she will not be able to defend her title at Melbourne Park beginning Jan. 19. She also missed the Beijing Olympics and the U.S. Open because of the injury, and her recovery has been slower than expected.
Serena overcomes error
Sydney, Australia — Serena Williams didn’t even bother to chase down the return, certain that her serve had hit the net and would be called a let.
When the point was instead awarded to her opponent, Australian Samantha Stosur, Williams quickly went from serving for the match to fighting off match points in her season debut at the Sydney International on Sunday.
Williams seemed visibly upset by the chair umpire’s mistake until a late rally to pull out a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-5 victory.