By Jeff Labrecque
December 30, 2013 at 10:29 PM EST

Tim Tebow was an all-time great as Florida’s Heisman-winning quarterback, but despite an improbable NFL playoff run that made him a folk hero in Denver in 2011, he’s currently out of football after being released by two different teams. Only 26, Tebow isn’t giving up on his playing career — officially — but he’s actively preparing for life after football.

Today, ESPN announced that Tebow will join the SEC Network as an analyst when it launches next August. “Tim is a SEC icon with a national fan base and broad appeal. He will be a significant contributor to the compelling content we will deliver with the SEC Network,” said Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president, programming, college networks.

Tebow will join ESPN’s coverage of next week’s BCS National Championship game between Auburn and Florida State. Next fall, he’ll be a fixture on SEC Nation, the new network’s travelling pregame show.

“I am so excited that ESPN has given me this incredible opportunity,” said Tebow. “When I was six years old I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC.”

ESPN’s release was careful to note that Tebow’s role with ESPN would not preclude him from pursuing opportunities in the NFL. But despite his publicly stated desire to return to the NFL, this move represents some admission that the end of his career is near, if not staring him in the face. No other team gave him an opportunity after the Patriots cut him before this season. But on television, based in SEC country, where’s he’s still a homegrown legend, Tebow’s future can still be very bright.