The return to football might not be exactly what Tim Tebow was hoped for, but it’s a start.

Tebow, who led Florida to two national championships but washed out of the NFL last summer, will join the SEC Network, ESPN announced today. He’ll be a college football analyst for the “SEC Nation” pregame show when the network launches in August. He’ll start work immediately, though, participating in ESPN’s Jan. 6 coverage of the BCS Championship game.

Tebow has not played since being released by the New England Patriots on the last round of training-camp roster cuts Aug. 31. Taking the broadcasting gig doesn’t mean he’s giving up on the NFL, although no teams came calling when quarterbacks were getting hurt right and left this year. Nor, ESPN said in its release, would it keep him from playing if he got an offer, although the network doesn’t say how that would work.

“I am so excited that ESPN has given me this incredible opportunity,” Tebow said in a statement released by ESPN. “When I was 6 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.”