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U. in prime spot

But Meyer must deal with Florida speculation

There was so much going on Monday morning that Utah coach Urban Meyer had to turn his phone off. And he said he may leave it off.

Meyer's phone was ringing off the hook for a couple of reasons.

One, his Utes had surprisingly moved up one spot in the BCS standings into the all-important top six, which would guarantee a berth in one of the four BCS bowls at season's end. And two, Ron Zook was fired as head coach at Florida, fueling speculation that Meyer could be a top candidate for the job.

Meyer, whose 7-0 Utes play at San Diego State on Saturday, was happy to talk about the BCS situation. At least happier than he was to talk about the possibility of another job.

"I just heard that a few minutes ago," Meyer said at his weekly 1 p.m. news conference Monday. "I think it's great. Actually my wife called me and her comment on my message machine — I didn't get to talk to her — was, 'You're No. 6 — make sure you stay there.' "

Meyer then laughed and added, "That's great coaching on her part."

The Utes leapfrogged Wisconsin to No. 6 in the BCS standings, even though neither team moved in the Associated Press or coaches poll. The Utes' BCS average is .7217, compared with Wisconsin's .7180. Last week the Badgers led the Utes by just .0004. Even though Wisconsin is ranked higher than Utah in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, the Utes enjoy a big edge over the Badgers in the computer polls with an average ranking of five compared with Wisconsin's 11.

Although Meyer did acknowledge he "did look for it" and that "a lot of people will talk about it," he also said it doesn't matter if the Utes are No. 6 or No. 8 or 9 in the BCS standings right now.

"Where you are now doesn't matter," he said. "I think we have four of our toughest games coming up. In December we can have a great big press conference or a party or whatever, but right now there are no issues with that."

Later, Meyer got a little testy when asked about the suddenly open job at Florida. Zook was let go a few hours earlier and the fact that former University of Utah president Bernie Machen is president at Florida now makes some folks believe Meyer is bound to be contacted.

When asked if he's looking for Machen's name on his caller ID, Meyer replied, "I don't carry a phone around with me now. I had a bunch of calls today, which was disruptive, so, no more."

When asked to describe his relationship with Machen, who was U. president when he was hired, Meyer said, "I have no comment. This is about San Diego State. If you want to ask about San Diego State, I'd love to talk about."

Finally, when asked if he was flattered to have his name mentioned as a possible candidate for the Florida job, Meyer said, "To have my name mentioned — it's been mentioned a million other times too, so I'm not focusing on it."

Ute players don't seem to be concerned about losing their coach.

"It's not surprising that his name is going to be thrown out for another job," said Ute quarterback Alex Smith, who has one more season after this one. "It's just like everything else. We can't think about that. He's put in a lot of time here and obviously he's as determined to win as us."

"We don't have time to worry about stuff like that," said Utah defensive lineman Kite Afeaki. "We're just focused on our jobs."

Meyer has said several times over the past two years that he's very happy in Utah and that his wife, Shelly, is especially happy to be in Utah and doesn't want to leave. His contract has a $250,000 buyout with exemptions for three schools: Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan. However, if a school such as Florida really wants a coach such as Meyer, a buyout clause shouldn't be a problem.

Besides Meyer, other coaches who have been mentioned as possible candidates are former Florida coach Steve Spurrier; Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, a former Florida assistant; Boise State coach Dan Hawkins and Fresno State's Pat Hill.