TALLAHASSEE — Florida State contends that even during this week of rumor and speculation, it is maintaining its focus on the prize before it.
All summer and fall, players talked about winning the ACC championship to earn a berth in the Orange Bowl.
On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops accepted the coaching job at Kentucky. Reports from websites that cover Kentucky say fellow FSU offensive coordinator and tight ends coach James Coley might become his offensive coordinator. There also is talk of FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and the vacancy at Auburn.
"You've got to tune out the outside as best as you can," S Terrence Brooks said of facing Georgia Tech in Saturday's conference title game. "We still have to take care of business this season, and all that after-the-season stuff will take care of itself after the season."
'Nole, 'Cane honored: FSU RB Chris Thompson and Miami DE Shayon Green were named co-winners of the ACC's Brian Piccolo Award, which is given to the conference's most courageous player.
Thompson, a senior, fractured his back Oct. 8, 2011, against Wake Forest and returned to lead the Seminoles in rushing.
During the past three years, Green, a redshirt junior, has torn his ACL twice, torn the meniscus in his knee and dislocated his wrist. He returned this season to lead the Hurricanes in tackles.
UF: Safety commits
Orlando Dr. Phillips' Marcell Harris orally committed to Florida. The 6-foot-1, 207-pounder, ranked among the top 10 safeties nationally by ESPN and Rivals, made an official visit to Florida State over the weekend and decided after attending the FSU-Florida game. Harris' father, Mike, was a Florida defensive back in the mid '90s.
Commitments cannot be made official until Feb. 6.
Antonya English, Times staff writer
UCF: Different feeling
ORLANDO — UCF's players said the energy in the locker room feels different as they prepare for the Conference USA title game Saturday at Tulsa.
"Everyone is more intense. Everything is more detailed," said redshirt sophomore WR J.J. Worton, who will play in his first title game. "People know what they need to do, and we're getting ready."
Said RB Latavius Murray, part of the Knights' 2010 C-USA title team: "Most definitely a different energy."
But coach George O'Leary's approach remains the same.
"If you have to say a lot to get them ready to play, you have problems," O'Leary said.
"They have an opportunity to reach the only goal they set for themselves, the conference championship. That's all that really needs to be said if their goal meant something when they made it."