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Like in 2001, Sooners meet lame-duck coordinator

1/7/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Bob Stoops will be heading into Thursday's BCS National Championship Game with at least one similarity to his earlier title-game victory that should be to his benefit.

Like in the 2001 Orange Bowl where he claimed his national championship, Stoops again will be facing an opponent whose offensive coordinator has accepted a head coaching job but has chosen to stay on for the bowl game with his old team.

In the 2001 game, Stoops faced Florida State for the national title. Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt had already taken the Georgia job, but pulled double duty to coordinate the Seminoles offense. Stoops' defense delivered a masterful performance in a 13-2 victory.

Like eight years ago, Stoops' opponent again at Dolphin Stadium in Miami will come with a coaching staff that has been altered. Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen was hired last month for the Mississippi State head-coaching job and chose to stay with his old team during its bowl game.

Mullen will leave for his new job immediately after the game. He'll work from the press box, calling plays like Richt before him. After that, like Richt, he leaves for his first head-coaching job at a Southeastern Conference school.

Stoops said the imminent coaching change could affect a team's focus. Houston coach Kevin Sumlin remained with the Sooners during last season's 48-28 Fiesta Bowl loss to West Virginia before leaving for his new job.

"It can to some degree," Stoops said. "We've been in that situation before and they are all managed differently. How much of a difference, it's hard to say. But you manage it and deal with it because you have to do it."

Teams have won national championship games with departing coordinators. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini most recently helped LSU win the BCS National Championship Game last season before leaving for his new job immediately after the game. Pelini has just finished a 9-4 season with the Cornhuskers where he tied the school record for victories in a first season at the school.