Will OU get a break with Mullen's part-time status?

December, 23, 2008
12/23/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Clay Horning of the Norman Transcript posed an interesting question this morning when he asked whether Oklahoma might be in better shape than most people think heading into the FedEx BCS National Championship Game Jan. 8 against Florida.

And that's even coming with the loss of two key members of the Sooners -- starting tailback DeMarco Murray and backup defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger.

Horning's point is that the departure of Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen for his new job at Mississippi State could rob the Gators' offense of some of its focus as it prepares for Oklahoma.

Mullen obviously has to be thinking more about his new job than his old one. It would be only human nature.

Florida coach Urban Meyer thinks that Mullen will be back for the bowl game.

"I talked to him ... and right now the plan is he's going to come back right after Christmas," Meyer said last week.

But Florida quarterback Tim Tebow isn't sure that Mullen will be calling all the plays. He thinks the Florida coaches will handle the decision-making by committee.

The Sooners have benefited and struggled in the past because of departing coordinators.

Bob Stoops' first national championship in 2000 came after Florida State's Mark Richt took the Georgia head-coaching job before the game. The results weren't pretty as the Seminoles were limited to a season-low 302 yards in a 13-2 loss to the Sooners.

The Sooners had their own problems in the 2004 Sugar Bowl, where they played LSU in a game for the national title only a few weeks after Mike Stoops had taken the head job at Arizona. LSU jumped ahead early and cruised to a 21-14 championship game victory as Mike Stoops watched from the sidelines.

Meyer can only hope that the transition goes as swimmingly for his team as it did for Bo Pelini last season in the BCS title game. Pelini remained around the LSU team and turned in a masterful job as the Tigers claimed a national championship victory over Ohio State. He left for his new gig at Nebraska the next day.

Most observers speculate it's easier to pull that off with a defense rather than an offense, where play-calling abilities are a different story than merely calling defenses.

However it turns out, it will be interesting to see how another national championship game is affected by departing assistant coaches.

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