- 05:28 PM ET 01.06
head-coaching post at Mississippi State in December.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Dan Mullen fished two nearly identical BlackBerrys from his pockets Monday afternoon. "That's the Mississippi State Batphone," the newly minted Bulldogs coach/outgoing Florida offensive coordinator said, raising the device in his left hand.
During meetings or practices as the Gators prepare to face Oklahoma in Thursday's BCS title game, the Mississippi State phone remains holstered. But when practice wraps, the phone with the Starkville area code gets a workout.
"We try to get all the meetings done, and then at night I have my time," Mullen said. "I might not get to enjoy all the bowl festivities that all the other coaches and families and players do. But that allows me to have time to do the necessary work I need done on the other end."
Mullen has heard plenty this week about Mark Richt, who came to Dolphins Stadium eight years ago as Georgia's incoming head coach and Florida State's outgoing offensive coordinator and guided one of the worst offensive performances of his career in a 13-2 loss to Oklahoma in the BCS title game. Mullen chooses instead to think about Steve Sarkisian, the USC offensive coordinator who took the Washington job last month. With Sarkisian calling the plays, the Trojans played one of their best offensive games of the season last week in a 38-24 Rose Bowl win against Penn State.
Tim Larson/Icon SMI
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- In 10 years of covering BCS title games, I can't ever remember there being this much smack-talk among the players leading up to the game. (Perhaps it helps that the Ohio State Robots -- er, Buckeyes -- aren't here this time.) The chief orator, without question, has been Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes.
Mind you, Spikes hasn't taken any specific shots at Oklahoma or any of its players. He does, however, have some pretty strong opinions about the Sooners' conference, starting with ...
"I think Big 12 defenses are a joke," said Spikes.
Is that so, Brandon? Do expound.
"It's just a really big difference when you watch the film. You can just tell, when you put a Big 12 tape in, you can see the difference [in athletes]. Defense, offense, special teams. When they punt the ball, it takes the guys on their coverage team a little bit longer to get down the field than the SEC. I'm not trying to be cocky about the SEC. It's just what I see with my own eyes."
On the high scores in the Big 12: "When I watch SportsCenter and I see the scores, it's just ridiculous. It's kind of like basketball scores. You don't really get too many high scores in the SEC. The best defenses win the games."
- 01:39 PM ET 01.06
No. 1 on his final coaches' poll ballot.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Did Texas coach Mack Brown and Utah coach Kyle Whittingham recently switch professions and become writers, thus making them eligible to vote in the final AP poll? That's the only explanation I can come up with after both Brown and Whittingham proudly declared that they would be voting their respective teams as the No. 1 team in the nation on their final ballots.
I'm sorry, but those votes hold about as much weight as an online fan poll at this point.
Brown, Whittingham and every coach that votes in the coaches' poll is obligated to vote the winner of Thursday's BCS National Championship Game as the No. 1 team. In fact, they don't even get to vote for the No. 1 team, as American Football Coaches Association executive director Grant Teaff reminded everyone on Sunday after Whittingham's declaration following Utah's Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.
"This poll is not, since 1998, to select the national champion," he said. "The winner of the (BCS championship) game is the winner of the (BCS) trophy, which means the coaches do not vote for No. 1, they vote for No. 2 down."
So while Brown and Whittingham may think their team is No. 1, they won't be able to vote them any higher than No. 2 on their final ballot. By the way, if they really believed their teams were the best, why didn't they vote them No. 1 going into their bowl game when their vote actually mattered?
- 05:56 PM ET 01.05
cut on his injured ankle in recent practices.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- That noted mathematician Percy Harvin emerged Monday from an almost monthlong media blackout and announced a number. That number is 90.
As in, the Florida receiver's sprained right ankle is 90 percent healthy, and he expects to play Thursday when the Gators face Oklahoma for the BCS title. For the folks who have pored over ESPN footage of Harvin's injury -- suffered Nov. 29 at Florida State -- like conspiracy buffs examining the Zapruder film, Harvin's pronouncement should set their minds at ease.
Just as Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow signals six more weeks of winter, some -- Florida coach Urban Meyer, for example -- hope the sight of Harvin planting his right foot and changing directions like lightning hopping from one cloud to another will signal another year of the Gators reigning as the kings of college football. The Sooners will get their say in all that Thursday, but Florida will come in far more confident if Harvin's ankle seems plantworthy.
Harvin saw the morale boost firsthand at practice Saturday. "Two days ago, I started cutting," Harvin said. "Once I knew I could cut, Coach [Meyer] kind of winked at me and said, 'This is going to be a great game.' "
in the Rose Bowl.
Jay Christensen produces The Wiz Of Odds.
• Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany tries to explain why league teams perform so poorly in bowl games. "I don't have a great answer other than to say that these things tend to be cyclical."
• Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times: Hal Stern, a professor of statistics at UC Irvine, said that no self-respecting statistician should have anything to do with the Bowl Championship Series standings. The computer rankings used by the BCS serve as little more than a confirmation of the results of the two opinion polls the system also uses to create its rankings.
• Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: Hawaii coach Greg McMackin and a booster club are asking fans to help raise more than $1.65 million for the program, which is "at an economic crossroads" to remaining competitive in a tough economy.
• Ray Melick, Birmingham News: Utah's victory over Alabama does not "prove" anything other than on this night, in this game, at this time, the Utes were better than a Crimson Tide team whose heart clearly was trampled by Florida in that "BCS semifinal" game in Atlanta.
• Al Martinez, Los Angeles Times: Men are drawn to football by DNA that releases dopamine into our systems during bowl season, heightening our pleasure response to physical confrontation. We can't help ourselves. Come the end of the year and we float like living dead to our TV sets, carrying a bag of potato chips and inexplicably craving beer and hot dogs.