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Conference USA switches tiebreakers without really telling anybody

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, Conference USA could have a 3-way tie atop its West Division. Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and UAB all stand at 5-2 in conference play. The three teams split their round-robin -- La Tech beat Southern Miss, Southern Miss beat UAB, and UAB beat La Tech -- and all three teams dropped their second game to East Division opponents, creating a true logjam at the top of the standings.

So, as Saturday shakes out, here's how each team can win the division.

  • Louisiana Tech: Win over UTSA and a UAB loss. If UAB wins, La Tech needs a USM win as well, as La Tech loses a 2-way tie with UAB.
  • Southern Miss: Win over Florida Atlantic and a Louisiana Tech loss. If La Tech wins, USM needs a UAB win as well, as USM loses a 2-way tie with La Tech.
  • UAB: Win over North Texas and a Southern Miss loss. If USM wins, UAB needs a La Tech win as well, as UAB loses a 2-way tie with Southern Miss.

On Sunday, the conference sent out an email and created a public-facing webpage that sorted out a 3-way tie as follows:

Screen Shot 2019-11-27 at 4.19.07 PM

However, by Monday afternoon the conference had changed its tiebreaker to read like this:

If Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and UAB each win their final regular season game and finish 6-2, the tie would not be broken through the first seven tie-breakers and it would go down to average computer ranking (Anderson and Hester, Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Massey, Sagarin and Wolfe), with the highest ranked team earning a spot in the Championship.

For what it's worth, here's how the six computers rank the three teams.

Anderson & Hester
1. Louisiana Tech (73)
2. Southern Miss (75)
3. UAB (80)

Billingsley
1. UAB (37)
2. Louisiana Tech (41)
3. Southern Miss (51)

Colley Matrix
1. Louisiana Tech (62)
2. Southern Miss (64)
3. UAB (71)

Massey
1. Southern Miss (83)
2. Louisiana Tech (87)
3. UAB (93)

Sagarin
1. Southern Miss (87)
2. Louisiana Tech (94)
3. UAB (106)

Wolfe
1. Louisiana Tech (59)
2. Southern Miss (72)
3. UAB (74)

Average all six and you get:
1. Louisiana Tech (69.3)
2. Southern Miss (72)
3. UAB (76.8)

Apply the old BCS formula of throwing out each team's highest and lowest ratings gets you:
1. Louisiana Tech (70.3)
2. Southern Miss (73.5)
3. UAB (79.5)

So, on Sunday, Southern Miss fans were told by the conference that the Golden Eagles would prevail in the event of a 3-way tie, but by Monday afternoon Louisiana Tech was now in the catbird's seat.

FootballScoop obtained this from a C-USA source:

On Monday, our Athletics Directors clarified the “Two-team or multiple team tie for divisional champion” by adding “Highest average computer ranking” following “Highest CFP Ranking.”

To date, the change has not been publicly announced or acknowledged on any of the conference's public-facing channels outside of simply changing the wording on the webpage. FootballScoop attempted to reach out to the conference inquiring about the change, but C-USA has not returned a message seeking comment.

At an average of 2.7 points behind Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss is currently in the uncomfortable position of winning the league's old tiebreaker but losing its new one. However, the Golden Eagles face East leader Florida Atlantic (computer average: 44.7), so perhaps a win over the Owls would be enough to lift the Golden Eagles in the title game anyway.

Otherwise, the Golden Eagles could be the victim of a midstream, unannounced tiebreaker change that would take them from participating in -- and possibly hosting -- the Conference USA Championship to sitting at home and watching on television.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.

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