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SEC championship game: 'This is basically Frazier vs. Ali'

GAINESVILLE -- CBS's college football television guys, Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson, had a conference call on Tuesday to promote Saturday's SEC championship game. They did a good job. Gary Danielson could be Don King. Here's a transcript of the conference call...

How can the consensus No. 1 team in the nation be a 10-point underdog?
Lundquist: "The victories by Alabama have been much harder for them and much closer games, and there's a romance to Florida at what they've done, just the perception of the team. They are so interesting to watch and they've catched the imagination, I think, of who watches college football. Now, I don't know how that impacts the guys who decide these things. I was not surprised to see Florida installed at a near double-digit favorite."

Danielson: "Everybody loves offense and loves points. We've been through this before. Remember the Ohio State team that had to play Miami in the Fiesta Bowl? No one gave them a chance because they played ugly. I even think of the Buffalo Bills, who were supposed to be the new-age offense and the New York Giants beat them in the Super Bowl. ... The Florida offense is more impressive because, to be honest about the SEC, their defenses are much more superior than the offenses. What Florida's offense has done against defenses is more impressive than what Alabama's defense has done against offenses, which are somewhat down this year."

Is Tim Tebow's apology to Florida fans after the Ole Miss loss going to be the stuff of legends like Babe Ruth's called shot?
Lundquist: "He kind of put the team on his back. I think you all know he waited 45 minutes to an hour before he made the statement. I just think if Florida goes on and beats Alabama and gets to the title game and wins the title game, this thing will take on a life of its own. It will be remembered as one of the great statements by a college player for a long time. I don't mean to overstate this, but I'm thinking George Gipp and win one for the Gipper."

Danielson: "Most of his teammates knew what he was all about and now the rest of the country knows what his teammates already knew. ... He didn't promise wins. He promised effort and leadership and intensity and that's how all good leaders do it."

Should Texas or Oklahoma have represented the Big 12 South in the Big 12 championship game?
Danielson: "I wish, and it would have been my idea and I know it can't happen, they should have just asked Missouri to step aside (as the North champion). This is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime thing with them being ranked 2 and 3. Everybody knows one of them should be playing for the national championship. I wish the commissioner of the Big 12 would have said, 'Let's let them replay this in the Big 12 championship.' ... What's so charming and why everybody will get caught up in the Alabama-Florida game is that it's going to be decided on the field."

Has too much been made about the contrast in styles between Florida and Alabama?
Danielson: "I don't think enough is being made out of it. The great fights, the great matchups, style makes the fight. I've been doing this for a long time. I've done two national championships and done pretty much every big rivalry. This is the most intriguing matchup I've ever done and basically it's because of the styles. This is basically Frazier vs. Ali. This is ugly vs. pretty. This is new vs. old. This is spread out vs. tight. You can pick an angle here and you've got a contrasting style. ... Whoever wins will be which team overcomes a big mistake and doesn't get in awe of the enormity of the game. Remember when Florida won the national championship game? Ohio State ran back the opening kickoff."

Why doesn't Alabama seem to have the hype that Florida has coming into the game.
Danielson: "That's just because they (Crimson Tide) don't make ESPN highlights as easily. We get fascinated with big plays and football is more than that. I will say this, though: The Alabama sum is better than the parts. There's no doubt about that. ... They definitely play better as a unit than individually. If you look at Florida, their sum is the spread but that only highlights their parts. The spread gives you the parts that kill you. There's the contrast."

Do you expect Percy Harvin to play?
Danielson: "Yeah, he'll play. He's played so many times with a bad ankle. I'm sure he will play. Play calling and strategy is always 50 percent of what you have and 50 percent of what you think you have. Even if Harvin isn't 100 percent, Alabama has to keep in mind the other 50 percent."

It looks like there's an outside shot for Tim Tebow to win the Heisman again.
Danielson: "Outside? I don't think it's outside. I think he's one of two guys. He's right there. If he has a great game in this one, you better have a great one against him. I've got to say the stats in the Big 12 are like pesos to me. Everybody's got stats there. It's 300 pesos for half a gallon of milk."

Why are all those stats being piled up in the Big 12?
Danielson: "There are more NFL-ready guys (on defense) in this league (the SEC) than any other league at this time. Right now, there's just a deficiency in quarterbacks in this league. If you aren't really good in this league (at quarterback), they'll chew you up. You don't get away with what you do in this league than in other leagues."

The perception of Nick Saban is different than Urban Meyer's. Saban isn't considered warm and fuzzy. Is that unfair?
Lundquist: "I've known Nick Saban since he was Bill Belichick's coordinator at Cleveland. I wouldn't say he's a friend. I know him as well as anybody in my end of the business can know him. ... When we're in the room with him he has a relationship where there's an exchange of respect. He is as gracious and kind as anybody can be. He'll take the time to answer questions. Every once in a while he'll lose his temper. He'll answer thoughtfully and he'll take questions for as long as you want."

Danielson: "I'd say I'm not interested in warm and fuzzy. When I was player I was like, 'How about a play?' ... I don't even respect warm and fuzzy. I feel like you're trying to play me. You know where you stand with them. You don't like it, they don't care."





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