Bob Hersom
Experience could land OU, Florida in title showdown

By Bob Hersom Published: August 18, 2001
Two sets of archrivals Oklahoma and Texas, and Florida and Miami enter this college football season as the most likely candidates to follow OU as the national champion.

OU is ranked No. 1 because the Sooners return most of their players from last year's unbeaten national championship team. Back are 16 starters, the 23 freshmen and sophomores on last year's final two-deep, and the best coaching staff in college football.

If these rankings prove accurate, OU will play Florida in the Rose Bowl, for the 2001 national championship. What a coaching matchup. OU coach Bob Stoops against his former mentor and OU wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. against his dad, Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

Florida has 17 starters back from last year's Southeastern Conference title team, including nine on a defense that should be, and had better be, far better than last year.

No. 3-ranked Miami of Florida begins what will be, if good things happen to good people, a long and successful reign by new coach Larry Coker. The Hurricanes return 14 starters from the team that waxed Florida 37-20 last year and should have played OU in the Orange Bowl.

And speaking of good coaching matchups: Miami's defensive backs coach is Mark Stoops, younger brother of OU's Bob and Mike.

No. 4-ranked Texas isn't coached by a Stoops brother, of course, but the Longhorns are guided by, like Coker, a former OU offensive coordinator, Mack Brown.

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