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USC beats out Alabama for 2008 playoff spot in mock selection

USC beats out Alabama for 2008 playoff spot in mock selection
Reporters take part in a mock College Football Playoff selection committee meeting. (Ian Halperin)

If the first College Football Playoff does not work out for the Pac-12 Conference, well, it can always brag about what might have happened after the 2008 season.

Media members from around the nation were invited to Dallas this week to participate in a mock selection hosted by the College Football Playoff.

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The panel, which included me portraying the role of USC Athletic Director Pat Haden, voted USC into the four-team playoff based on the final regular-season results of 2008.

The final four ended up Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and USC. Penn State finished fifth, followed by Alabama.

Playing the part of Haden, one of 13 panel members on the committee, I was not allowed to discuss or vote on USC.

The panel's outcome differed from the final BCS standings of 2008: Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Alabama, USC and Utah. Florida defeated Oklahoma, 24-14, in that season's title game.

In our mock playoff, Florida plays USC in one semifinal at the Sugar Bowl, while Texas and Oklahoma meet in another semi at the Rose Bowl.

The voting margin between No. 4 USC and Big Ten champion Penn State at No. 5 was substantial.

We met in the same boardroom at the Gaylord Texas Hotel that will be used when the selection committee convenes to discuss this year's playoff lineup later in October.

The committee will release its first top 25 on Oct. 27.

Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, the CFP selection committee chair, was in attendance Thursday to help the mock panel through the selection process.

One of the mandates of the four-year playoff is to put more emphasis on conference championships, which certainly helped USC in the retroactive look at 2008.

USC lost an early game at Oregon State but rallied to win what was then the Pac-10. Alabama's only loss came against Florida in the SEC title game.

The panel voted three times on the top four and every result was the same.

We also used our final top 25 in 2008 to place schools into the other four major bowls in the new format.

Our mock bowl lineup:

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Rose (CFP semifinal)—Texas vs. Oklahoma
Sugar (CFP semifinal)—Florida vs. USC
Orange—Virginia Tech vs. Alabama
Cotton—Texas Tech vs. Texas Christian
Fiesta—Ohio State vs. Boise State
Peach—Penn State vs. Utah

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