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College football: Schools that step up a class are in for rugged times.

COMMENTARY — The lack of success in their new conferences by the likes of TCU, Utah and West Virginia has to have subliminal effects on the committee that will choose the four-team field for the College Football Playoff.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 6, 2014
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Missouri went 8-5, 10-3 and 8-5 its final three Big 12 seasons. The Tigers have gone 5-7 and 12-2 in two SEC seasons.

Texas A&M went 6-7, 9-4 and 7-6 its final three Big 12 seasons. The Aggies have gone 11-2 and 9-4 in two SEC seasons, which is slightly better, a phenomenon easily explained by Johnny Manziel.

Colorado went 5-7, 3-9 and 5-7 its final three Big 12 seasons. The Buffs have gone 3-10, 1-11 and 4-8 in three Pac-12 seasons.

We can argue all day about the relative strength of the major conferences, but whatever gulfs exist between the power leagues, it’s nothing compared to the difference between the power leagues and the mid-majors.

“In this league, the margin of error is different,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson. “There were good teams in any league we've played in. But on a week-to-week basis, the margin of error is less. And so you have to be able to understand that when those four or five plays happen that you've got to make, make sure that you make them.”

Which brings us to the committee. In the past, a small sample of games determined the reputation of mid-majors. The mid-majors looked strong when Utah beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and TCU beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, when Boise State beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and West Virginia beat Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

But now we’ve seen former mid-majors asked to prove themselves over a longer haul, and success is slow to come. That will absolutely weigh on the committee’s mind.

So if a committee is deciding between a 12-0 Brigham Young or a 12-1 Michigan State, the Spartans are likely to get the nod. If the committee is picking between a 13-0 Marshall or a 12-1 Stanford, it’s the Cardinal. If the committee is picking between a 13-0 Boise State or an 11-1 Oklahoma, it’s the Sooners, the memories of the hook-and-lateral and statue of liberty be damned.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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