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Reaching BCS finale is nice for Florida Gators, but …

Rapt attention: Bill Parcells, who won two Super Bowls as coach of the Giants and now is an executive with the Dolphins, speaks with Oklahoma’s players and coaches.

Associated Press

Rapt attention: Bill Parcells, who won two Super Bowls as coach of the Giants and now is an executive with the Dolphins, speaks with Oklahoma’s players and coaches.

FORT LAUDERDALE — The reality that they are playing for their second national championship in three seasons has hit home with the Gators, but the coaches and players said Saturday that it won't mean much if they don't defeat Oklahoma on Thursday.

Just making it to the big game isn't acceptable.

"It kind of hits you," defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "We were sitting there one day, and we were like, 'Wow, this is our second national championship (game) in three years.' You just know what's at hand.

"I guess the biggest thrill for us is to go win the game. It's like you go into the SEC (title) game against Alabama. They're undefeated, and if you lose that game, you're like, 'Wow, what did you accomplish?' Yeah, it's your second (BCS title game), but let's go finish the job now. You have not completed the task. Let's go finish the task and see where we are."

No Broncos for now: Several media outlets reported last week that the Broncos are interested in talking with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops about replacing the fired Mike Shanahan.

But Stoops said there's nothing to it.

"What situation? That's a rumor that I have not heard, and no one has contacted me about that. So I don't know anything about it," Stoops said.

"We're preparing for a national championship, and that's all my focus and all my concentration's on. So obviously, I'm not a candidate. I'm sure someone might have told me other than (the media) if I was a candidate."

Stoops said the story is not a distraction to his team because it's not true.

"There's no story," he said. "I'm not a candidate."

'Stay off the ticker': Junior LB Brandon Spikes said he will wait until after the BCS game to decide whether to return for another season, adding he will rely heavily on the advice of his family and coaches.

Spikes, who has an older brother in a South Carolina prison for a murder conviction, said he's sure his brother would want him to do whatever is best for his career.

What Spikes won't do, he said, is get caught in a situation similar to that of Alabama OL Andre Smith.

The Outland Trophy winner was suspended for Friday's Sugar Bowl loss to Utah after being accused of illegal contact with an agent.

"You've got to be smart," Spikes said. "There's a lot of people out there trying to get you, and they're waiting for you to make a mistake so they can put it out and it comes across the (sports) ticket.

"We've got a thing at our school that says, 'Stay off the ticker.' (The Crimson Tide) didn't have their key player, so they got beat. We're trying to make sure we're all accountable."

Famous face: Florida coach Urban Meyer is well-known for his motivational tactics and prominent guest speakers.

But it was Oklahoma that got the famous visitor Saturday.

Bill Parcells, a former NFL coach and current Dolphins vice president of football operations, attended the team's practice at Barry University. The Sooners have several players who are NFL prospects.

"It was great," Stoops said of Parcells, who coached the Giants to two Super Bowl wins. "He's just evaluating our players, I'm sure. But it was great to have him here. I've always been a big fan of the way he coaches and the way he handles you media guys, too.

"I think it's always important when you get a legendary figure and a guy that's a (future) Hall of Fame coach. I just like to have our players see and hear from those kinds of guys, and he always has a great message for them."

New coach soon: Meyer said he has done a thorough search and is close to naming a new quarterbacks coach, possibly within the next two days. Dan Mullen, who also served as offensive coordinator, will be taking over as coach at Mississippi State.

Location change: Florida was scheduled to practice at the Dolphins' facility. But because they have a playoff game today, the Gators moved to Florida Atlantic University.

Reaching BCS finale is nice for Florida Gators, but … 01/04/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 4, 2009 7:40pm]
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