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Designated Read: Unnecessarily divisive polling season comes earlier every year

THE FIRST BCS STANDINGS OF 2011. They are here! They are very, very close at the top! They are led by the SEC, Big 12 and Boise State, but you probably already knew that. Actually you might have been able to draw these up yourself, in your sleep. The first top five of the season: Tigers, Tide, Sooners, Cowboys, Broncos. More analysis here.

About that blockbuster Miami investigation ... 'Canes players performing their own variation on Auburn's established theme of NoSnitch2K11 may make it difficult for the NCAA to substantiate claims made by Nevin Shapiro.

We will take our fun in Chapel Hill instead. Jurisdiction fight! This is another case it'd be nice to see play out in the summer when we'd have more time to pay attention to it.

"The game is on." An Al Michaels historical tidbit delivered as an aside on Sunday night football begat a question that begat the retelling of a cool story on the USC-Notre Dame rivalry, one you might not have heard before.

Expansion tidbits, grudgingly dispensed. While I was on the road Friday, the Mountain West and Conference USA finalized their rumored merger, beginning with the auspicious sentence, "The Mountain West Conference and Conference USA have unanimously come to an agreement in principle to consolidate their member football programs into one large association." They've got the "large" part right.  Quoth Mandel: "So, by the prevailing definition (16 teams), do we now have our first official superconference? At 22, is it a super-duper conference?" Elsewhere on the exasperating expansion front: Boise State not having a Big East invite counts as news right now, I guess. The SEC spins the scheduling wheel in a 13-team conference. And TV considerations killed BYU's move to the Big 12, for the moment.

Quote(s) of the day. Missed all the fun on this Friday night, so let's indulge for just a minute in the best potshots levied at the MWC-CUSA endeavor.

"If the MWC and C-USA are joining forces, the "Mount America Conference" is the only real logical name. " -- Spencer Hall

"I see where they're coming from, but conference deal is akin to bringing 22 knives to a gunfight." -- Paul Myberberg

"The MWC and C-USA champs have played each other many, many times. It used to be called the Liberty Bowl." -- Dan Wolken

"S.E.C., A.C.C., B.I.G.1.0., W.A.C. ... By the time I'm through with this conference realignment stuff, I'm going to need a N.A.P.!" -- Jon Bois

Giveth, taketh. Marcus Lattimore's knee injury will knock him out for the remainder of the 2011 season, a development that's bad for college football in general and worse for South Carolina. Bob Stoops says Kenny Stills isn't horrifically banged-up, in a roundabout fashion. LaMichael James says he could play this weekend if called upon to do so, and while Darron Thomas says the same, keep an eye on Oregon's closemouthed coaches for clues this week. David Shaw is understandably displeased with the manner in which receiver Chris Owusu sustained his concussion Saturday.

Roster blotter. Curtis McNeal isn't USC's go-to guy just yet. Shayne Skov will bypass the NFL draft. And Auburn's nonexistent quarterback race is now an actual quarterback race.

Monday whimsy: Who can name this SEC campus? The quadruple option is real and spectacular. Anticipating the Pac-12 TV deal from a financial standpoint. The evolution of Mike Gundy. Joker Phillips gets the rare sincere-sounding vote of confidence. Not an ideal time for Texas to be pushing its own network. Iowa's in-stadium card stunt is mesmerizing. Purple's a good look for Nick Saban, no? Ryan Leaf knows a class act when he sees one. By reader request, one more mention of this Eric LeGrand story. It's not just you and your warped sense of parity: Almost everybody is terrible at football this year. And Al Golden's mother's dire warnings have finally come true: It appears his face is stuck like that.

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