MIAMI -- There's good news and bad news for University of Miami players George Mira Jr. and John O'Neill. The bad news is they won't be allowed to play in the Orange Bowl because they were caught taking the diuretic Lasix. But the good news is they're eligible to run in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness (although not the Belmont).

Excuse me. I must be in the wrong city. I was under the impression that the Nos. 1 and 2 college football teams were here to play the Orange Bowl and determine the national champion. Miami and Oklahoma. Remember? But nobody's saying a word about football.

There's a lot of talk about drug tests, diuretics, steroids, injuries, injunctions, the care and repair of public images, longtime friendships between coaches and warm recollections about when the Sooners and Hurricanes met last year in The Vinny Testaverde Heisman Clincher. But considering this is only the second time in the 1980s that unbeaten teams ranked one and two are meeting in a bowl game, and considering Oklahoma is the national leader in both total offense and total defense, and The Miami Scoring Machine averages 35.6 per game, I guess I expected someone somewhere to use the phrase "put points on the board."

Instead, we're getting a crash course in urology. We get Mira saying that the night before he failed his drug test he'd "eaten a lot of spicy, salty Mexican food," and that his "only purpose in taking half a {Lasix} pill at that time was that I felt bloated." We get his attorney claiming there's a documented history of water retention problems in the Mira family. And we get O'Neill's attorney appealing on the grounds that O'Neill has "a shy bladder," and took a water pill because he had trouble urinating in front of witnesses. (Who doesn't?) Football? You've got the wrong channel, buddy. This is "General Hospital."

And when we're finished with diuretics, we get public relations. Both Miami and Oklahoma want to convince us this is not necessarily the Black Hat Bowl, the Bad Boy Bowl, Bonnie and Clyde Meet Ma Barker or, as ESPN's college football guru, Beano Cook, characterized it, "like Red China vs. Russia -- the kind of game where fans root for injuries." No, no, no. Apparently what we have now is St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa. Hi Rick, hi Dave, Mom's in the kitchen making fudge.

All season long we've been hearing how Barry Switzer, at 50, has mellowed, how the son of an Arkansas bootlegger isn't nearly the rogue he once was. No more nasty rumors about his personal life or his financial dealings that hounded him for years. (Well, yes, Switzer's football program is said to be under NCAA scrutiny, but the NCAA's probably just killing time until SMU resumes practice.) To hear Switzer tell it, Oklahoma's image problems begin and end with Brian Bosworth, whom you'll remember from last year's Orange Bowl drug tests. "I have 115 players, and because of one -- a media egomaniac -- we're labelled. That's not fair," Switzer said angrily. "I'll graduate 21 of 23 seniors this year. I'm proud of that. I'm upset that one guy has given us the image of a dirty program." (It would probably be rude of me to point out that the image predates Boz by at least 10 years.)

Yeah, old Boz, he's the guy. He planned the job, he drove the car, he held the gun, he took the money, he shot the guard. The rest of us? We thought we were going for milkshakes. The only thing we were worried about is that the milkshakes would get us so bloated we'd have to take a diuretic.

Yesterday, the mere mention of Boz drove Jimmy Johnson wild. Switzer, who was an assistant at Arkansas when Johnson played there, reminisced about what Johnson was like back then, before he started perma-pressing his hair. "He had a crewcut -- had that Boz look," Switzer said playfully.

"You're not saying I was like Boz?" Johnson exclaimed, hurt to the quick.

Perish the thought. Miami needs a Boz like Denver needs more snow. Miami already has a solid reputation as a cheap-shot, run-it-up team. Two years ago, the Hurricanes threw for a touchdown and blocked a kick for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to kiss Gerry Faust goodbye, 58-7. This season, they passed for a touchdown with 11 seconds left to squeak out a 46-16 victory over Maryland. There was a brawl with South Carolina last month, and defensive end Daniel Stubbs threw a punch at a Nebraska player during an all-America team photo session! And we haven't even begun to list the variety of scandals that led wide receiver Mike Irvin to proclaim, "Yeah, that's us -- No. 1 UPI, No. 1 FBI."

Let's see, last year there was a telephone credit card scandal, a car leasing scandal, a previous Mira steroid scandal and the standard shoplifting, gas siphoning and handgun scandals. (No problem with handguns in Florida anymore; with the new law you can wave them around like Wild Bill Hickok.) Quarterback Steve Walsh was asked why he came to Miami from St. Paul, and he said, "I need beaches. I need a zoo." You can stop calling now, we've got a winner.

Johnson quickly points out this is a new year and, indeed, under the explicit directive of embarrassed university president Tad Foote, the Hurricanes had been model citizens this season, until the recent excretory dilemmas. "Unfortunately, an incident like this bring out all the dirty laundry," Johnson said, shrugging his shoulders. "When you have a negative image, it takes a long, long time to change it."

Seated next to Johnson, Switzer hung his head in sympathy. They've been to the same movie. They're old pals. In 1970, when they were assistants at Oklahoma, Switzer and Larry Lacewell convinced Chuck Fairbanks to hire Johnson as a defensive coach. "We liked to party with him," Switzer joked. "And with the defensive talent we had -- the Selmon brothers -- we knew Jimmy couldn't screw it up." More than the score, they know the down and the distance. They know they're never going to be fitted for the white hats.

Last year, when they beat Miami for the national title, St. Joe Paterno and his Penn State team were invited to the White House, apparently to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Mindful of the potential irony in this year's championship game, Johnson and Switzer were asked: If you win, and if you're invited, would you go to the White House?

Johnson said he would.

"Where is that?" Switzer cracked.

Switzer mentioned how rare it was for a college football team, over 100 players and coaches, to be thus invited. Enjoying the thought of it, Switzer asked with a smirk, "Is Joe the only one who gets to do it?"

Actually, we hear Department of Corrections buses are gassed up and ready to take the winners north.