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OK, Florida, you wanna talk old?

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JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — My joints ache. I can't read the fine print on the menu. And I forgot where I put the car keys.

Still, I'm not alone.

I'm in Florida, retiree capital of America. The place where old is everywhere. Consider this: The oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine, is a few miles south of where BYU and Florida State will play on Saturday.

The oldest college football player in America, well, he's here, too. And he doesn't play for BYU. Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke skipped his 10-year high school class reunion in July. What's the point? Weinke's in pretty much the same place he was a decade ago: single and attending school.

Weinke turned 28 in July, which not only makes him older than anyone on his team, it makes him older than some of the graduate assistant coaches.

Finally, the Cougars are playing against someone older than they are. Weinke has a full three years on anyone on the BYU football team.

"Wonder what mission he went on," said BYU tackle Hans Olsen.

For BYU, there is sweet irony in all this. For years, the knock on LDS returned missionaries was that they were soft and lacking in competitive instincts. Then when the Cougars began winning with missionaries, it was labeled an unfair age advantage.

"Nobody's complaining about (Weinke)," said tight end Tevita Ofahengaue, who turned 25 in July. "People complained about us for years. Now it's OK, he's an old Heisman candidate. Which means, I guess, that I still have a chance to win the Heisman."

Now the Cougars get to be the ones complaining.

"Things change, huh?" said Olsen.

If any team can sympathize with Weinke, it's the Cougars. They can't number the times they've been teased about covering their injuries with Medicare. Let's see, Doc, does he have a broken finger or arthritis?

Now, the Cougars have met their match in Weinke. Tyson Smith, for instance, is the oldest BYU player listed in the media guide at 25 years and 4 1/2 months. Aaron McCubbins will join the ranks of 25-year-olds in a month. Kalani Sitake will be 25 in October.

Kids, all of 'em.

"At least I'm not the oldest now," said Ofahengaue, who has four children. "They're not calling me grandpa any more."

For his part, Weinke says he's bored by talk of his age. He's been addressing the subject ever since he returned to college after a six-year career in minor league baseball. Still, that doesn't keep him from being razzed by teammates, who have been known to call him Dad, Methuselah and Rip Van Weinke.

Earlier this month Weinke was filling out a physical questionnaire alongside a teammate, when he noticed they were born 10 years apart. In fact, Weinke was briefly a freshman classmate with Charlie Ward. Charlie Ward! The former FSU Heisman winner is approaching his seventh season in the NBA.

Weinke has even more in common with Ward — both played against Michael Jordan. But Weinke did it as a minor league baseball player.

The good news for Weinke is that he has experience. And perspective. And he's been around long enough to know there's more to music than boy bands and Britney Spears. In fact, he's been around long enough to accumulate a degree of wealth — something most college athletes only hope for. Last year he reportedly bought a new sport utility vehicle with cash.

This, of course, is slightly amusing to the Cougars, who have traditionally been noted as the oldest, most married, most parental team in the country. At last, they get to be the ones to ask if their opponent left his dentures in a glass by the bed.

So Saturday's game should be interesting in at least two aspects. First, it's the Cougars against the No. 2-ranked Seminoles, the defending national champions. And second, they've finally found someone in their peer group.

E-MAIL: rock@desnews.com