FORT LAUDERDALE — Oklahoma DB Dominique Franks has had enough of all the talk about the Big 12 not being able to play defense. And he's tired of hearing about Florida QB Tim Tebow, too.
"If you look at the three best quarterbacks in the country, (they) came from the Big 12," the sophomore from Tulsa, 21, said during Sunday's BCS media interviews. "The three best receivers in the country came from the Big 12. The three best tight ends came from the Big 12. So we've faced some great offenses and a lot of people don't understand that other conferences don't have what we face."
So if the three best QBs are in the Big 12, does that make Tebow No. 4?
"Yup," Franks said. "I think our quarterbacks are better. Just the way they conduct themselves and how they play on the field. I just think, playing against those guys, it's a lot harder to prepare for those guys than it is for Tebow."
OU coordinator Brent Venables, whose defense ranks No. 98 nationally in pass defense and No. 58 in scoring defense, said he doesn't think Franks meant any disrespect to Tebow.
"I think he's going to bat for the guys that he has a lot of respect for," Venables said. "Not that he doesn't have (for Tebow), but guys that he's familiar with. And I think it's that as much as anything."
Still, some Sooners are apparently miffed about a comment attributed to Tebow by CBS analyst Verne Lundquist. Near the end of the network's broadcast of the SEC Championship Game, Lundquist said that Tebow told him he has a lot of respect for the Big 12 quarterbacks, "but then he looked at us with a huge grin and he said, 'I really would like to throw against some of those defenses in the Big 12.' "
OU players aren't happy, either, about the Gators saying Tebow should have been the repeat Heisman winner over OU sophomore QB Sam Bradford. "Sam deserved to win," TE Jermaine Gresham said.
Venables warned, however: "Being mad doesn't make you play better."
FAMILIAR HIRE: The expected hiring of Detroit Lions QB coach Scot Loeffler as Florida's quarterbacks coach was met with approval by Tebow, who has not said whether he will forgo his senior season. "I think Coach Loeffler is a good coach," he said. "I think he did a great job at Michigan. I think he did a good job coaching Chad Henne, and he recruited me out of high school, so we got to know each other very well then. He was actually the main reason I took a visit to the University of Michigan. So I thought he did a great job coaching quarterbacks. I think he'll be a good coach." Loeffler, 34, is a former Michigan QB who joined the Wolverines staff in 2002 and left for Detroit in January 2008.
TWO title tatTs? He hasn't actually made an appointment, but OL Phil Trautwein's teammates are asking about a second tattoo. A couple of months after UF won the 2006 national title, the New Jersey native got a tattoo on his upper left arm that features a championship trophy with an alligator wrapped around it and the Swamp in the background. It cost around $300 and was painful. So will he consider No. 2 if the Gators win? "I will," the 22-year-old redshirt senior said. "For another national championship, I'll do anything."
NOT JUST US: This will be the second time two Heisman winners have met in a national title game — USC QB Matt Leinart (2004) beat OU QB Jason White (2003) 55-19 — but Tebow said too much is being made of it: "For me, it doesn't really matter. It's just another team, another great opportunity, so we've got to be ready for them, not necessarily just the Heisman Trophy winner."
OLD TIME'S SAKE: The Baltimore Ravens stayed at the media hotel before their AFC playoff game against the Dolphins, which gave the Gators a chance to catch up with an old coach. Former UF co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, now a Ravens assistant, met for several minutes with the Gators during their morning interview session. Mattison was on the 2006 national title staff.
Antonya English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tugging on Superman's cape?
Florida QB Tim Tebow has said, "I don't think it's ever a good thing to talk trash, because I think all it does is really fire your opponent up. At least I know that's how it is for me." A look at a couple of times Tebow has been called out.
Florida State linebacker Geno Hayes, 2007
Quote: "You all put that down, Tim Tebow is going down. … The bigger they are, the harder they fall."
Result: UF 45, FSU 12. Tebow completes 19 of 28 for 262 yards and three TDs, and rushes for 89 yards and two TDs, including a 23-yard scoring run right past a pursuing Hayes. Hayes finishes with one tackle, has to be restrained from going after a reporter on the field after the game, then refuses to talk to the media.
LSU defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, 2008
Quote: "If we get a good shot on (Tebow), we're going to try our best to take him out. … If he does get hurt, there's a trained medical staff at Florida, so you can go to the training room on Sunday."
Result: UF 51, LSU 21. Tebow completes 14 of 21 for 210 yards and two TDs, and rushes for 35 yards and a TD. Jean-Francois misses the game because of an injury.
Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks, 2009
Quote: "If you look at the three best quarterbacks in the country, (they) came from the Big 12. … The right person won the Heisman (this season) and we're going to go out there and show everybody the reason why he won it."
Result: To be determined late Thursday night.