Five-way tie possible with SEC math

Published 11:46 am Friday, November 7, 2014

Maybe you’ve come across this nutty scenario that is running wild in hyperspace these days, gaining a life of its very own.

It’s one those deals that is touted by Facebook carnival barkers with the kicker “… and you just won’t believe the amazing thing that happens next …”

True, at first glance, it looks like just another unbelievable Internet urban legend (hoax), one of those that is begging to be shot down to a myth by the Snopes debunkers.

But apparently this thing is on the level.

It has been cross-checked, verified and de-mythicized to the point it appears to be at least based on a true story and backed up by verifiable mathematics.

We’re talking about the bloody bar brawl that is the Southeastern Conference West Division this season, mainly this delicious possibility — are you sitting down? — of the whole thing ending up in a five-way tie for the championship.

Yeah, I was laughing too. Hysterically.

At first.

After all, I saw LSU open the conference 0-2 while looking verily outclassed against Mississippi State and Auburn. So anything that mentions the Tigers in the same breath with Atlanta and SEC title game sounds like the worst and most contrived nursery rhyme imaginable.

But, OK, let’s play along.

Best I can tell here’s what has to happen.

First — maybe the most important piece to start the wheels in motion — LSU has to upset Alabama in Tiger Stadium Saturday night.

A bit of a long shot, yeah, but stay with me on this.

The Tigers then win out (at Arkansas and at Texas A&M) to — voilà — finish 6-2 in the conference.

Auburn then beats Texas A&M and Georgia but loses at Alabama.

Alabama, having lost to LSU, beats Mississippi State and Auburn, both at home.

Ole Miss wins out by taking down Arkansas and Mississippi State.

Mississippi State loses at Alabama and Ole Miss, but has a victory over Vanderbilt in the middle.

That’s a lot of moving parts, for sure, but none of them involve the sun rising from the west or Les Miles getting his ballcap on straight.

Five teams with 6-2 SEC records, all of them presumably 10-2 overall.

If this thing were to come to fruition, my guess is that there would be large mushroom clouds forming over the SEC headquarters in Birmingham.

Spontaneous thermonuclear combustion.

Over in Dallas, the honorable College Football Playoff selection committee might just throw up their hands and go join a cult somewhere.

The anti-SEC crowd would be face to face with either their worst nightmare or warmest dream.

It might mean no SEC West team getting in the first playoff. It might be that they just play one round of musical chairs and — minus the odd team out — ladies and gentleman, there’s your four-team playoff.

It would probably be somewhere in between, but it still would have to be sorted out enough for somebody to play in the SEC championship game.

The tiebreakers would be stretched to the limit, perhaps treading right up to the precipice of a coin flip.

Assuming Ole Miss can get past Presbyterian (which is a four-year college) this Saturday, none of the five would have lost a game outside their tight, little competitive circles.

All would have 2-2 records in the round-robin amongst one another, which is the first (useless) tiebreaker.

The first one that might draw blood would be the comparative records of the SEC opponents (all would be 2-0 against the East).

That should eliminate the two Mississippi schools. Ole Miss has played Vanderbilt and Tennessee (combined 1-9 record) while Mississippi State got Vandy and Kentucky (2-9).

Bama’s East opponents are Florida and Tennessee (4-7), LSU’s are Florida and Kentucky (5-7) and Auburn’s are Georgia and South Carolina (6-7).

So LSU fans would need to be rooting for the Gators and Wildcats from here on out.

The key game in the entire SEC this year might be otherwise nondescript Kentucky-Tennessee affair.

Not to sound like a late-night television commercial … but wait, there’s more. It gets better.

And you really WON’T believe this.

The website College Football News, which is actually one of the respected ones, doesn’t trust the CFP selection committee and, like most of America with a handy pen and cocktail napkin, takes a stab at the process itself.

The committee that matters currently has LSU No. 16.

College Football News’ lead writer, the very good Pete Fiutek, he has LSU at … No. 4! In the playoff as we speak.

Where did THAT come from?

“The loss to Auburn was brutally ugly,” Fiutek wrote. “But at the moment, they (LSU) have to be No. 4. The two losses came to the No. 1 (Mississippi State) and No. 3 (Auburn) teams, and they beat the No. 11 team (Ole Miss), the No. 25 (Wisconsin), and the team (Florida) that just throttled the No. 20 team (Georgia).”

Not sure I buy that. It seems he forgets that LSU still has two losses, and he was doing the ranking the way he thinks it should be now, not how it will end up. He writes that Alabama will beat LSU Saturday and presumably end this foolish discussion.

But, still, maybe it does point out just how wild and wide open the coming weeks could be.

Meanwhile, the true football anarchists pray for that five-way SEC West tie.

Only the truly big dreamers dare to imagine the ecstasy of SEC Commissioner Mike Slive reaching into his pocket to pull out a coin.

I mean, really, would you want to go head to head, mano a mano, in a coin flip against Lucky Les Miles?


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

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