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It is the time of year when all of college football obsesses about protocol. Making the BCS National Championship Game is neither cut nor dried. It is a mix of performance, opinion and computer magic. The recipe changes from year to year, like flu shots.Some years, performance is everything, as when USC and Texas romped to the Rose Bowl three years ago. Some years, computer magic trumps opinion, as in 2003, when No. 1 USC didn't play in the BCS title game.
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Mike Leach doesn't have to worry about style points as long as the Red Raiders are No. 1 or 2.
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Oklahoma's Bob Stoops prefers coaching to campaigning.
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George Selvie keeps an eye on what Mike Johnson and the Crimson Tide are doing each week.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Tennessee officials believe that North Carolina coach Butch Davis will be lured to Knoxville because they can increase his salary, and because UT is a football school (unlike Chapel Hill). Man, are they breathing their own exhaust. First, Tennessee is a hard job (small recruiting base; Georgia, Florida and Alabama every year). Second, they just ran off Phillip Fulmer, who is batting .743 over 16 seasons. That's not exactly a "Welcome" mat for the next guy.
2. Even if Michigan upsets No. 10 Ohio State on Saturday, the Buckeyes will continue to close one gap between the rivals. As of this writing, Michigan is No. 1 in all-time appearances in the Associated Press poll at 752. Ohio State is No. 2 with 748 -- and closing fast. With four more polls this season, the Buckeyes should finish tied with the Wolverines at No. 1. And when next season begins, the Buckeyes should move into first place.
3. Texas' decision to lock in defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as head coach-in-waiting is good news for the contenders for the Clemson job. Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster interviewed well with Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips on Friday, and if the Tigers' offense continues to improve, interim coach Dabo Swinney may keep the inside track.
Beano Cook joins Ivan in the ESPNU College Football Podcast to discuss some of this week's rivalry games and the big Texas Tech-Oklahoma showdown. Listen
Florida long-snapper James Smith's dive for the end zone Saturday against South Carolina may not be the most famous Touchdown That Wasn't. That remains Rocket Ismail's 91-yard punt return in the final minute of the 1991 Orange Bowl. The Irish's Greg Davis got flagged for holding the Buffaloes' Tim James; Colorado held on to a 10-9 lead and survived to win a share of the national championship.But the play Smith made will be celebrated as long as there are athletes whose desire and work ethic are their greatest assets. To recap: South Carolina, down 14-0 early in the first quarter, tried a throw-back kickoff return to stunt the Gators' momentum. Smith's duty on the kickoff team is to be the contain man on the field side. Florida likes to kick deep left, which means Smith mans the right side of the field. "Keep [the returner] inside and in front," Smith said of his assignment. As the Gamecocks set up for Dion LeCorn's return, Smith noticed South Carolina's Chris James by himself. LeCorn stopped, pivoted and threw the ball across the field to James. "When I saw No. 29 hanging around," Smith said, "I thought something might be up. I need to go cover him. ... In three years of [being the contain man], this was the first time they did something like that. But I was ready." LeCorn's throw sailed high enough that James couldn't bring it in. Smith beat him to the loose ball and plucked it off the ground inside the 5. James grabbed him and they both fell at the goal line. The official ruled touchdown. The replay official overruled him and placed the ball at the 1-foot line. Instead of Smith's scoring the first touchdown of his career, quarterback Tim Tebow scored his 42nd. "I saw the replay on CBS," Smith said. "They show my knee down. I watched it on film here. It looks pretty close." Smith carries a 3.5 GPA, graduated in August and has been one of the team leaders for three seasons. His hustle created a touchdown, and even if it didn't count, he got to celebrate as if it did. Touchdown or not, Smith made one of the best heads-up plays of this or any season.