FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Coaches hate distractions almost as much as they hate losing. That's because one often leads to the other.
For almost a month, Florida has been dealing with a distraction this week as it prepares for Thursday night's BCS Championship Game against Oklahoma.
Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen was named Mississippi State's head coach on Dec. 11. Instead of leaving immediately to take over in Starkville, Mullen is multi-tasking. He's a head coach at one Southeastern Conference school while he remains as offensive coordinator — for one more game — at another.
"The adrenaline just keeps flowing," Mullen said of his dual roles. "I get to coach in the national championship game Thursday night and the next day I get on a plane to head for a new job."
Mullen has two cell phones. One is for the new job, one is for the current one. If both ring at the same time, he answers the Mississippi State phone first.
Sound like a problem? Not really. Florida coach Urban Meyer wanted Mullen to stay and call plays against Oklahoma because Mullen has been so instrumental in the development of quarterback Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner.
Offensive line coach Steve Addazio will replace Mullen as the Florida's offensive coordinator. The ramp up to the BCS title game hasn't been any different than the Gators' preparation for the previous 13 games.
"Everyone has great input in their area, so it never has, or never will, be about one guy," Addazio said. "It's all about our team. We stress that. That's the way it's going to stay, and the way it should be.
"It's a group effort. The input from the quality coaches we have here is incredible, making sure everyone is in sync, players and coaches alike."
Past situations similar to what Florida is experiencing have produced mixed results.
In 2000, when Oklahoma won the BCS title by defeating Florida State, Seminoles offensive coordinator Mark Richt had been hired by Georgia as its head coach. He stayed on with FSU but the Seminoles' offense failed to score in the Sooners' 13-2 triumph.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio, now at Michigan State, accepted the Cincinnati head coaching job before the Buckeyes played Miami for the national championship. He finished out his tenure with Ohio State and helped the team win a national title.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini followed a similar path last season when he remained as LSU's defensive coordinator after accepting the Cornhuskers' job. The Tigers won the national title by defeating Ohio State.
This season, USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian completed his duties with the Trojans after being named Washington's coach. And Utah's offensive and defensive coordinators each accepted new jobs but stayed on to help the Utes win the Sugar Bowl.
OU-BYU in Dallas Cowboys' new stadium
Oklahoma will open the 2009 season in the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington. ESPN and the NFL team announced Tuesday that the Sooners will play Brigham Young on Sept. 5.
The season opener for both the Sooners and the Cougars will be on Labor Day weekend in prime time. It will be part of ESPN Kickoff Week Presented by Gillette, which will feature extensive college football content across multiple ESPN outlets during the first week of the season.
NCAA rules allow for players to receive $500 each in gifts from bowl hosts. Here's what Oklahoma and Miami players collected this week for the BCS Championship Game: A $350 Sony gift card, a $115 Tourneau watch, New Era 59fifty Hat, Crocs and an Ogio duffle bag. Each school is also allowed to give each of its players an additional $350 in gifts.
* Meyer on the possible distractions facing his team in South Florida: "I worry about the team coming out here and staying in control. We've just got to make sure we keep our routine going. I trust these guys. We're going to enjoy ourselves here, but there's no doubt why we got on [the] plane."
* Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on the perception that Thursday night's game in Dolphin Stadium will be a pseudo home game for Florida: "Yeah, but there's a whole lot of 'Cane fans and I'm calling on all the Hurricane and Seminole fans that are down here to root for us. That won’t be hard I don't think. So there's another part of South Florida that isn't for the Gators, and we're hoping to recruit them here this week."