The College Football Playoff Committee: Putting the BS in FBS

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This time a year ago, I could not wait to see the BCS destroyed. The BCS had served its purpose of providing a 1 vs 2 Championship game each year, but with a convoluted formula, politics, and annual controversy, the whole process had become outdated. The time had finally come for a reasonable solution…or so we thought.

Enter the College Football Playoff and its incredibly creative and catchy title. The fact that FCS/D1AA already uses a playoff to crown a champion not withstanding, fans of college football finally have been given what they want. No….Wait….TCU didn’t make it into the playoff!? Baylor lost one game all year and they’re left out!? So no Big 12 members at all? The one UNDEFEATED Power 5 Conference team is the #3 seed!? FACEPALM!!!!



29-0….as Charlie Brown said…Good Grief!

There is so much wrong with this system, I don’t know even know where to start. From this point forward, this article may lack coherent structure, but it seems as though that has become par for the course for College Football, so bear with me. Even typing that last unintended pun makes me cringe for the Baylor Bears. Let’s try this: We’ll look at what the Committee got right, then what the Committee got wrong and finally how to fix this mess.


……………  ………  ……  ….  ..  . Roll Tide?


DISCLAIMER: The following views/opinions are that of myself, Darrell Jones, and are not necessarily the same views held by the rest of the Inside the ACC Staff, or the Sportswar network.

If you have spent any time listening to ESPN the past 48 hours, you might be as nauseous as I am. It seems as though every ESPN employee has been given a memo to celebrate how great this Playoff bracket is, and how the Committee did such a great job in the face of such incredible adversity. In reality, all the Committee did was screw the least established and prestigious fan bases, while catering to who they thought would provide the best national exposure and garner the most viewers. ESPN and all Corporate partners are ecstatic, while real college football fans are left with another product that lacks any and all credibility.


#1. A convoluted formula that no one understood:

If you invested your time throughout this season listening to any of the members of the Committee discuss what criteria mattered in their decision making, you know that you were never given a concrete answer. The playoff bracket has been announced and I still don’t know how or why the decisions were made. Well…actually, I do know and that leads me to #2.

#2. Politics:

As I stated earlier, the Committee made a conscious decision to make the people who have the most influence the happiest and leave the rest of us looking for common sense and integrity be damned.

Ohio State got beat in their beloved horseshoe, by a 6-6 Virginia Tech team, that as the season unfolded became one of the worst offensive teams in the last 10 years. That would fall under the category of BAD LOSS. In comparison, Baylor’s one loss came on the road against West Virginia, who finished 7-5. West Virginia played one of the tougher schedules of the year with 5 opponents ranked heading into their games, including: #2 Alabama, #4 Oklahoma, #4 Baylor, #7 TCU, and #12 KSU. When compared to Ohio State, Baylor’s loss came in a hostile environment against a much better opponent. TCU’s lone loss was a 3 point defeat in a shootout @Baylor, clearly the best loss (if such a thing exists) of the Bubble teams.

So if we are discussing how to seed these three Bubble teams, based solely on their losses, TCU>Baylor>Ohio ST.

ESPN is telling the world that the Committee got it right, so maybe I’m missing something. Perhaps Ohio State played a much tougher schedule and had better quality wins.

Including the Big 10 Championship Game, Ohio State went 3-0 in top 25 matchups: @#8 Michigan State, @#25 Minnesota (later knocked out of the top 25 by Wisconsin), and finally #13 Wisconsin. Ohio State’s out of conference schedule was a brutal run of @Navy, VT, Kent State, and Cincinnati.

TCU went 4-1 against top 25 opponents. That doesn’t include a 30-7 victory over the same Minnesota team that Ohio State only beat by a touchdown. TCU had victories over #4 Oklahoma, #15 Oklahoma State, @#20 West Virginia, and #7 Kansas State, while losing @#5 Baylor.

Baylor’s top 25 record went as follows: 3-0 with wins over #9 TCU, @#15 Oklahoma, and #9 Kansas State.

So based on strength of schedule arguments, Baylor is the team to beat. Baylor holds a victory over a team that many thought would be in the playoff, as well as a win against a Kansas State team that found themselves sniffing around the playoff at the end of the season. TCU has an argument based on volume, as they had 5 games against top 25 opponents and even had a much more impressive victory than Ohio State against common opponent Minnesota.

Breathe, yawn, blink a few times. I realize that was a lot of numbers, but it boils down to this; any argument you try to make for Ohio State being selected over TCU or Baylor is an absolute joke. The playoff Committee got it wrong. They sided with Ohio State’s prestige over the facts that say Baylor and TCU both are better teams.



This topic has infuriated me for the past few weeks. I held out hope that the “body of work” argument the Committee preached week after week would lead to a correction in the final standings. That was not the case. There is no valid argument for placing an undefeated Power 5 Conference team anywhere other than the #1 seed, unless there are multiple undefeated teams. This is the basic foundation of sports.


The absurdity of the situation leaves an incredibly bad taste in my mouth. All SEC fans will talk about how great their conference is, and how deserving Alabama is of their #1 seed, but as I recall Ole Miss put a mark on Alabama’s record that doesn’t get wiped away just because Florida State struggled to win “pretty”. Is Alabama the favorite to win it all this year? Maybe so. But they still lost a game this year, and as ugly as some of the games were for FSU…as the kids these days say:



All they did was win.

They deserved the #1 seed, but ESPN’s unwritten (and thanks to the SEC Network, it may actually be a contractually written) rule, the SEC must be first and foremost in all things College Football. For years now, the SEC has started the season with numerous teams ranked, based on reputation and what we’ve seen in the previous seasons. Ohio State falls into the same category and as the Committee has shown this year, that’s not likely to change. If we are playing by those rules, then shouldn’t the undefeated defending National Champion Florida State Seminoles maintain their place at the top? If we are no longer using that mindset, then stop rewarding SEC teams for previous dominance when this season proved that the gap between the SEC and the rest of the Power 5 conferences has now closed. Florida State gets penalized for winning close games, yet Alabama is celebrated for winning a 55-44 game against Auburn, in which they gave up over 600 yards of offense and lost both the turnover battle and time of possession. This is the same Auburn juggernaut that managed 7 points against Georgia in a 31-7 beatdown before Georgia went on to lose to Georgia Tech, which went on to get beat by FSU in the ACC Championship game.


At this point, I would be hard pressed to say that this version of a playoff is better than the BCS. Voters could manipulate the polls in the BCS formula, but it still felt like there were components that helped to balance things out, and at the very least, the politics weren’t so blatantly obvious and insulting to fans. I keep looking at brackets and polls thinking something will change, wondering how it is possible for a room full of highly educated people, to come to this absurd conclusion. The only pass that I could possibly give the Committee is that they were limited to only four teams, meaning they had to leave deserving teams out.

Did they pick the right team? Absolutely not, but perfect results cannot come from an imperfect system. I sincerely hope that this will be the only season we have to deal with this four team playoff. The powers that be, namely the sponsors, make up rules on the fly. Maybe they’ll see just how asinine this whole ordeal has been, and they’ll move to what they should have done all along, an eight team playoff.

Once the Power 5 Conferences were established, a four team playoff was destined to fail. If a conference is prestigious enough to be included in the Power 5, then chances are, the conference is prestigious enough to have a representative in the four-team playoff. Not only did the Big 12 have one deserving team, they had two.


#1. The Eight-Team Playoff-

Each Conference Champion earns an automatic bid, leaving three at-large bids. Baylor and TCU would have made it in with this scenario, leaving two other at-large bids to be handed out. Ohio State wouldn’t have had to be shoehorned in via politics. Teams would have been able to earn their way in based solely on the merit of their season.

#2- The Jones Method-

College Football’s Playoff is the most restrictive postseason in sports. The NCAA Basketball tournament allows almost 20% of teams to compete. College Football’s four team playoff allows around 5% of the Power 5 Conference teams a chance at the post-season. The Jones Method would allow postseason entry to 15% of the Power 5 Conference teams. 11 teams would qualify for the playoffs. The 5 Conference Champions earn automatic bids as well as first-round byes.  The remaining six spots are all at-large bids that would face off against one another in the opening round. The winning three teams would then combine with the 5 Conference Champions to round out the 8-team bracket.


College Football as a whole has started to alienate and belittle its fans. The last few years have been an embarrassment for the NCAA as a whole, with all the scandals and lawsuits.  This year’s Playoff fiasco has done nothing to help that. With that being said, I encourage you to watch some of the lesser known bowl games that you may ordinarily skip. Watch the kids who play for the love of the game and who are excited just to be in a bowl game, maybe the Military Bowl or the Pinstripe Bowl. Those bowls will feature the sorts of players and teams playing with the joy and passion that make College Football great, and after the disgust and frustration of this weekend, those games may be just what the doctor ordered to become a fan of college football all over again.

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37 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I don’t get the need for a selection committee. The BCS wasn’t a bad ranking method. It almost always got it right and expanding the selection from two to four should have made it pretty much perfect. I just don’t see how 13 people in a locked room, making deals behind closed doors is better than a BCS formula that found a consensus among 150+ human voters and 8 or 9 computer algorithms. Since when is 13 > 160?

  2. The only “promise” from the new system was that a committee would make a choice using whatever internal criteria they chose to select the 4 most worthy teams. That happened. Do they owe everyone an explanation of how they weigh a conference championship vs OOC schedule vs best win vs worst loss vs who passes the eye test vs when did the loss occur vs strength of conference… not according to the design. That’s what’s interesting about CollegeFB. Whomever get’s left out has a beef and 8 makes more sense but I still prefer this step in the right direction. It’s not possible to remove all bias (and I agree with the points about ESPN/SEC and “tradition” – anyone believe the Big12 doesn’t get a closer look if we’re talking TX/OK vs TCU/Baylor?).

  3. The only thing that this article has right is that FSU should be seeded No. 1. I don’t understand the author’s angst because the four teams selected are correct. A conference championship game does make a difference as it should. A many here have said, no team should win the national championship that does not win its conference. That being said I think the playoff should be expanded to 6 teams made up of the P5 champs and the top non P5. Top two teams get a first round bye with teams 3 thru 6 playing into the final 4.

  4. Sorry – as others have pointed out, there are WAY too many fallacies in your purported logic. The most glaring one – stating that TCU>Baylor>Ohio State. The last time I looked Baylor beat TCU head-to-head. The fact that the Big 12 was too chicken-sh!t to declare an outright champion based on that fact alone deserves some ridicule in and of itself.

    Also, the other 4 conferences played championship games – that is, each team that got into the semifinals played 13 vs. 12 games. That’s another glaring weakness in the Big 12.

    Yes, you can argue for Baylor over Ohio State, but I don’t have a problem with the committee picking one over the other.

  5. I won’t be satisfied until they playoff expands to 16 teams. 10 conference champs (everyone is represented) and 6 at large teams. Until then, it will still be the haves and the have nots.

    1. A thousand times this! I’m a firm believer that no at-large berths should be handed out until all conference champs are guaranteed a spot. Ten conference champs plus 2-6 at-large berths. Until that happens the system is crap.

      Also, TCU should no way no how have been considered ahead of Baylor. Baylor beat them head to head and that, as they say, is that.

  6. Sorry Darrell, but I think you are being overly critical of those who struggled through the selection process. Surely that was a thankless job.

    If there was an 8 team playoff, there would be folks like you complaining about the 8 teams selected, and teams 9, 10, and 11 would be pleading their respective cases. And your over the top comments like, “College Football as a whole has started to alienate and belittle its fans.” Who the heck are you referring to as “College Football.” I don’t feel alienated and belittled. You can be “disgusted and frustrated” if you like, but I am going to sit back and watch the match-ups we’ve got.

  7. There was probably a lot of stuff to both agree and disagree with in this guy’s column, but I stopped reading after: “TCU had victories over #4 Oklahoma, #15 Oklahoma State, @#20 West Virginia, and #7 Kansas State, while losing @#5 Baylor.”

    Sounds good and all, but significantly less so once you take into consideration the full body of work and what the final rankings are at the end of the season. I guess what he meant to say was: “TCU had victories over unranked 8-4 Oklahoma, unranked 6-6 Oklahoma State, unranked 7-5 West Virginia, and #11 Kansas State, while losing @#5 Baylor.”

    So 1-1 against ranked teams. ‘At-the-time’ rankings are almost meaningless. We all know now how impressive it was for ECU to go on the road and beat “#17” Virginia Tech.

    Looking at the final rankings, you have:
    Alabama 4-1 against ranked teams (Ole Miss, LSU. Miss. St., Auburn, Mizzou);
    Oregon 4-1 (Mich. St., Ariz. twice, Utah, UCLA);
    FSU 3-0 (Clemson, L’ville, GT);
    Ohio State 3-0 (Mich. St., Minn., Wisc.);
    Baylor 2-0 (TCU, K-State);
    TCU 2-1 (Baylor, K-State, Minn.)

    1. Spot on: while we might agree on an 8-team playoff, the logic in this article was painful to endure. Among the highlights:
      -Schedule: Ohio State deserves derision for playing non-conference games vs three bowl-bound teams (including one that was in the midst of 10-win seasons when it was scheduled) and a MAC team, but TCU and Baylor deserve no derision for scheduling for success vs 1-AA teams and also rans. For that matter, they deserve massive credit for predicting Minnesota having a historically great season. Meanwhile, let’s not give Ohio State credit for winning their conference championship. Ohio State beat two more 1-A opponents than Baylor or TCU.

      -History: Ohio State deserves no credit for losing one regular season game in the past three years, but undefeated defending National Champ Florida State deserves major credit for past years.

      -Revisionist History: as VTgilligan noted, rankings were selectively listed. Making a 6-6 VT team that lost five games by one score a “6-6 Virginia Tech”, but a 7-5 WVU team that lost by double digits three times “#20 West Virginia”.

      -Recency: teams apparently don’t change over time. Ohio State should be judged as if the Virginia Tech team on its 4th string running back that lost to Wake Forest walked across the street to beat Ohio State later the same day. Meanwhile, let’s disregard that team with its 3rd string QB that beat Wisconsin 59-0. Ohio State lost 3 months ago while Baylor & TCU lost in mid-October.

      -Finality: TCU lost to Baylor, so it seems that they would lose the tie-breaker. But using the convoluted logic above, TCU>Baylor (>Ohio St, of course). There is no tiebreaker, just a couple of co-Champs avoiding the pain of a Championship. Ohio State won their championship, and they did it 59-0. Do you know how hard it is to beat a ranked team like that? I still remember VT doing that to a ranked Syracuse (62-0) in 1999. As it happens that VT team played for a National Championship.

      It’s a shame because I agree with the 8-team playoff conclusion and the ESPN issue with SEC-love, but “any argument (I) try to make for Ohio State being selected over TCU or Baylor is an absolute joke”. Saying it’s so doesn’t make it so.

    2. Yep, that’s where he lost me. Basing your argument on SOS, and concluding that Baylor and TCU have a better SOS, is ludicrous. Darrell got it right that the committee chose OSU b/c of SOS and quality wins, but fails miserably in analyzing the SOS and quality wins, based on what we know at the end of the season.
      IMO, the committee got it right at the end. They did screw up by putting TCU as the #3 seed at any point. They should never have been higher than #4, with very little separating teams 4-6.
      In the end, though, if you lose a game, you are putting yourself at risk, and you have no real complaint where you get ranked.

  8. Baylor and TCU played one less game than the conference champions.

    Baylor’s out of conference was pathetic:

    Northwestern State- 137

    Buffalo- 140

    SMU- 195

    TCU played:

    Samford- 109

    SMU- 195

    At least Virginia Tech, for all it’s troubles finished at 50.

    Baylor or TCU over Ohio State, no way.

    1. Thank you for posting that comment … nobody seems to want to discuss out of conference schedules when it comes to who is “worthy” of the playoffs. FSU clearly had the toughest OOC schedule (4 games, 3 against OK st, ND and Fl), then one could argue Ohio St had the second -toughest OOC schedule (Oregon prob had the best single OOC game, MSU).

      Baylor and TCU basically played one solid team combined OOC .. the one issue i have with this article is the author doesnt even mention their OOC schedule or the conference OOC rankings. One can’t hang your hat as a conference on one game against Minny ( a solid team, imo, but it’s still one out of 6 OOC games between Baylor and TCU).

      Previous seasons should have no bearing on a current year’s conference rankings, imo. While most fans would agree the SEC usually is the best conference top to bottom, one cannot make that argument objectively by using THIS YEAR’s conference games. OOC games are the best measure and the PAC12 and ACC were clearly tops in that regard, big 12 was clearly last.

      Expanding to 8 teams is the only good solution … and they should contact Andy Bitter, use his model, which makes perfect sense and addresses the “final exam argument”.

    2. I will preface all this by saying that I have a bias towards Baylor/TCU. As a VT fan, I feel more akin to those programs than OSU, and always will. Having lived through all the CFB blue bloods in 99 telling me how VT didn’t deserve to be in the NC, and other teams were clearly better was the biggest pile of bovine excrement. For people to say OSU is clearly the better team is the same, and it nauseats me to see VT fans say such. I like the Baylor/TCU/Ok State of the world, and feel they should get there shot, which they didn’t.

      A poster said the Big 12 was worst OOC this year. I strongly disagree with that, and I can’t see any argument as to how the Big 10 didn’t drop the biggest deuce in the bedsheets this year. In September, they were buried for dead due to OOC. Now they are not based off conference play. Sorry, thats hypocritical. You can’t state conference is dead due to fact they performed that poorly OOC, then say cuz of big conference wins they deserve to be in. Thats cyclical logic. Yeah, Big 12 didn’t light it up, but no one performed as bad as the big 10, yet they get rewarded for it. And OSU big wins against Wisc and MSU, look at those in depth. MSU played two good teams, beat by double digits by both, and gave up 40+ with their great defense. Sorry, a good year, but nothing on there resume screams top 10 to me. Wisc lost to worst LSU team in 10 years, and lost to 5-7. There big wins are Nebraska and Minn. And sorry, a team that lose 59-0 is not a top 15 team. Remember Syracuse of 99 – as good a win as that was and as well as VT played, that was not a top 25 team on the field. And for all those bowl teams the Big 10 has, look who they played ooc, Iowa, bowl team, losing to 2-10 Iowa State, and other countless examples. Winning the Big 10 is not a big deal in my exam, and the Big 12 is subjectively better.

      I mean come on, everyone points to OSU beating Wisk 59-0 with there 3rd string qb. Maybe thats also an indication to Wisky not being that good, or the fact that OSU went undefeated with backup qb as to how mediocre the big 10 is. Yeah, I will give credit for OSU overcoming adversity, buts its probably a combo of that and how bad the big 10 is. And its not like OSu was that overly dominant the whole season. Tied at home against Indiana start of 4th quarter, double OT to beat a 2-6 conference team in PSU, a one score game into 4th quarter with Michigan. Sorry, thats not as “dominant” as the talking head want us to think.

      Sorry, I just think this is more a name issue than on field. If the situation was the opposite, the Big 10 team was Minn, and Texas and OU were the Big 12 reps, what do you think would happen??!!! I guarantee you the decision would be different, because of the blue blood component. I can’t stand OSU, I think they do things the wrong way, a win at all cost mentality. I love VT football, but foremost I love VT, I am alumni, and I don’t wish our school to sell its soul to win at all costs, not worth it in my opinion. Maybe some fans out there would, but that wasn’t why I went to VT, and not what I think of the university…

  9. One more solution would be to call it what it is: AN INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT and not a championship playoff.

  10. FSU definitely got screwed- the defending national champs STAY the national champs (and #1 ranking) until they get beaten- anything else is just fuzzy math. Regarding TCU & Baylor- well sorry folks, they didn’t have to play a conference championship game like the other Power 4 did, so they were logically left out. You can’t pit conference champs vs. ranked teams who did not win let alone even play a championship game- it doesn’t follow. Just because a team is higher ranked doesn’t mean squat when it comes to the playoffs- if you don’t win your conference you go home. Just because the SEC may be a tougher conference does not justify them, or any other conference for that matter, getting two slots in the playoffs. I said it before and I’ll say it again- the rest of Division 1 football doesn’t exist for the SEC’s benefit.

    1. Disagree. They may have won all their games (and thus are worthy of inclusion), but there are probably 6-7 teams that would probably beat FSU on the field. They’re just not playing very well.

      Keeping last year’s MNC-winner at #1 until they lose is the old (poll) way of doing things. I happen to like the fact that the committee tried to rank the teams based on how they’d do on the field, even if they ranked FSU a little high.

      1. Well, the old way makes sense. The national champ belongs as king of the hill until somebody knocks them off. There is o justifiable reason for the only unbeaten P5 team to be ranked anything other than #1.

  11. My idea – 8 teams. Five Power 5 champions, one champion from one of the mid-major conferences (highest ranked out of the group) and two at-large teams (who cannot both be from the same conference.

  12. You should have to play in and win a conference championship game (a 13th game) to be eligible for the playoffs. 5 conferences, 4 spots. Conference champ with the weakest resume gets left out. The regular season still matters, SOS still matters, OOC still matters, and someone always gets left out so there will still be drama.

    OSU was selected over Baylor and TCU and SHOULD have been selected over those teams. If GT had beaten FSU, they should’ve been selected over those teams. The BIG XII doesn’t have a championship game. They should add teams and hold one or disband. That (extra, post-season game) is the gateway to the playoffs (in fact it’s the first round of the playoffs) and everything leading up to it is the resume.

    1. This would also mitigate the effect of premature rankings (especially asinine pre-season rankings).

      AND… Notre Dame should join a conference so they can play in a conference champ game and be eligible for the playoffs. Or they should be content with December football.

  13. This is the most incoherent garbage I have read in some time. When in doubt check LV power rankings that had FSU number 7. They get paid to get it right. PS FSU is a 10 point dog.

    1. LV gets paid by getting people to bet. The lines aren’t a reflection of which is the better team so much as they are an enticement to get gamblers to bet a certain way.

  14. Enh. If the Big 12 added two teams (to actually have 12) and a conference championship game, as they should have, then either Baylor or TCU would have been taken care of. That may be unfair, but that was something people talked about as a potential negative for the Big 12 before the season even started. That just leaves OSU vs. the other one. It is always better to lose as early as possible in a season, and finish strong. You can hardly do it better than OSU, and with a 3rd string QB to boot (don’t forget: going into the game against Wisconsin, some speculated that even if OSU won, they would be left out because the committee would think a 3rd string QB would be a handicap – instead they blew out Wussconsin). OSU did exactly what it needed to do to move up, while the Big 12 were penalized for something decided before the season.

  15. Great article, and spot on. It was disgusting and indefensible to include tO$U, and to seed Bama as #1. It’s all about politics which, as we know, is simply a synonym for Money 🙂

  16. I have never understood why the wheel had to be reinvented. Other football divisions have a playoff system that seems to work just fine, very well, or great depending on who you are, but it does work.

  17. No body is happy but me! I’m happy! Rah, Rah! When people do the bidding it has to be subjective to a certain extent!!!!

  18. As daddy used to say, “this is what happens when cousins marry.” Everything gets bastardized.

    I thought all along that it had to be at least an eight team play-off, but, oh no (!), the purists didn’t want to take another week of precious classroom time away from the players. The delicate balance between academics and the real elephant in the room–money–ain’t so damn delicate, is it? What a freaking joke. And what a sham.

    So the 2015 season will end with an eight team play off after the ugly dust of 2014 settles. What a BFWofT&M.

    Think the worst…If I told you Will would edit it beyond recognition.

  19. To put it another way El Hokie, the reason the playoff happened was because of the dollar$ involved. And no advertiser was going to put up those kind of numbers without a guarantee that eyeballs would be maximized. Unfortunately popularity counts.

  20. Its all about what have you done lately. Ohio State beat the #13 team by 59 with a 3rd string QB while Baylor beat the #11 team by 11. I am sure that is what jumped them to number 4

  21. As I previously posted, ESPN and other networks want only the elite programs in the final four. No Baylors, TCUs, Va Tech etc. The system is a joke. A lawsuit is just waiting to happen or worst the Feds involved. All it will take is a deep pocket very mad grad of a left out not elite to contact his or hers buddy the congressman or judge and then where will college sports be. The only true way to solve the mess is a playoff with league winners, either all 8 leagues or runner ups in major leagues. Just rerun the comments by Herbstreet at end of Fla St game. Another thing that concerns me about the system is teams running up scores for style points. This is not good sportsmanship should be about.

  22. All this was obvious from the inception. More teams just moves the politics down x levels. As long as selection is completely subjective it will always be this way. It will always be subjective because failing that the pundits lose their influence. They are the ones in control. There is no cure save the computers.

    1. 8 teams, Power 5 conf champs autobid, 3 at large go to the highest ranking mid-major champs. Make the playoffs by winning your conference, rankings be damned.

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