MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — As Bob Stoops keeps telling us, his Sooners have been called many things.
Slow isn't one of them.
Sooner teams for more than half a century have been known for their speed. From sprinting halfbacks (Greg Pruitt) to speed linebackers (Rod Shoate) to blazing quarterbacks (Charles Thompson).
But tonight, in a very familiar place, the Sooners find themselves in a very unfamiliar role.
Under the palm branches of Miami and in the national championship game, stages that have been second homes to Oklahoma football, OU plays to relieve the burden of four straight BCS bowl defeats and a month of defending its right to be here.
And the Sooners are the tortoise to Florida's hare.
"They'll be the fastest team we've seen," said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Florida coach Urban Meyer arrived in Gainesville four years ago wanting to make the Gators the fastest team in America. Darned if he hasn't done it.
Here's how fast are the Gators. Flanker Louis Murphy, who covers 40 yards in 4.3 seconds, says wingback Percy Harvin has the "fastest 10 yards I've ever seen, and he keeps getting faster and faster as he runs."
Yet Harvin is no better than the third-fastest Gator, behind tailbacks Chris Rainey (4.24 40) and Jeff Demps (10.01 100 meters).
"They're fast," said OU d-end Jeremy Beal. "They're real fast. That's our main concern."
But before we hand the BCS trophy to Florida's rabbits, remember the fate of the tortoise.
"There's a lot of equalizers out there on the field," Venables said. "Playing smart, playing disciplined. Talent isn't what wins."
Heck, witnesses as varied as Bob Stoops and Vance Bedford scoff at the tortoise label anyway.
Bedford, who played against the Sooners almost 30 years ago as a Texas defensive back and coached against the Sooners this decade as Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator, said anyone who touts Florida's team speed over OU's is blowing smoke.
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist.
Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman, the Oklahoma City Times, the Norman Transcript and the Oklahoma Journal — and entered the newspaper business at the age of 17, with the Transcript in 1978. His first game assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he has enjoyed the journey ever since, from high school wrestling duals and regional track meets to Orange Bowls and the NBA playoffs.
Tramel was born and raised in Norman, Okla. He and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters.