Judge rejects request for new vote in Virginia House race

Judge rejects request for new vote in Virginia House race

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A Republican won a Virginia state House of Delegates race so close that its outcome was determined by pulling his name out of a ceramic bowl Thursday. (Jan. 4)

Media: Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday rejected a request for a new election that might have forced a 50-50 split in Virginia’s House of Delegates, calling ballot mistakes cited by Democrats a "garden-variety" problem that doesn’t merit federal intervention.

Democrats had hoped a new election in the 28th District would provide an opportunity for an even split in the chamber, which is now on track to be controlled by a 51-49 GOP majority.

Democrats cited state election officials who said 147 voters received the wrong ballot before Republican Bob Thomas beat Democrat Joshua Cole by only 73 votes.

It is the second defeat in as many days for Democrats. On Thursday, election officials broke a tie vote in another House district by drawing names from a bowl, and picking the Republican.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said Friday that legal precedent bars federal courts from intervening in state elections on the basis of "garden-variety irregularities." He ruled that the misassignment of a few hundred voters in a district where more than 20,000 people cast ballots does not rise to a level requiring federal intervention.

Ellis also said the errors appear to be innocent, with "no claim of a great claim of a conspiracy to dilute these votes or do anything nefarious."

Friday’s ruling at U.S. District Court in Alexandria does not end the matter entirely. Ellis did not dismiss the case outright. Instead, he rejected a request for a preliminary injunction that would have ordered a new election.

He could still theoretically order a special election after hearing additional evidence, though he said Friday that "it’s going to take much more than I’ve seen" so far.

The plaintiffs — voters backed by a law firm aligned with Democrats — also could appeal Ellis’ ruling. Their lawyer, Bruce Spiva, said he would review appeal options with his clients.

It is the second time Ellis has rejected a request to intervene in the race. Last month he rejected a request to issue a temporary restraining order that would have barred state elections officials from certifying Thomas as the winner. In both rulings, Ellis said he was leery of interjecting federal courts into a state elections process.

Coming into the November elections, Republicans held a massive 66-34 majority in the House. But a Democratic wave, fueled by antipathy to President Donald Trump, pushed Democrat Ralph Northam to a larger-than-expected victory in the gubernatorial race and flipped 15 House seats to from Republicans to Democrats.

So, far, though, Democrats have not been successful in flipping a 16th seat that would create a 50-50 split in the chamber and force a power-sharing agreement. On Thursday, Democrat Shelly Simonds lost a drawing in a tied race in a Newport news District, giving Republican David Yancey a victory. Simonds still has the option of seeking a second recount in that race, though.

The 28th District is based primarily in Stafford County but also includes a few precincts in the city of Fredericksburg. The Fredericksburg precincts tilted heavily toward Cole.

The district is currently represented by House Speaker Bill Howell, a Republican who opted not to seek re-election.

A recount in the 28th District shrunk Thomas’ lead from 82 votes to 73. The bigger issue, though, was the discovery that numerous voters were assigned to the wrong district and thus given the wrong ballots.

Edgardo Cortes, head of the state Department of Elections, said in an affidavit that 86 voters who showed up on Election Day should have been given ballots for the Cole-Thomas race but instead received ballots for other House districts. Another 61 voters who should have been assigned to other districts cast ballots in the Cole-Thomas race, and there is no way to segregate those ballots from all the others that were cast.

Local elections officials who opposed ordering a special election said they have acted in good faith and that a new election is not warranted. "An election has got to have a beginning and an end," said their attorney, Michael Matheson.

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Joan Renee Cook vanished after going on a late-night walk in Salem, Virginia

Joan Renee Cook vanished after going on a late-night walk in Salem, Virginia

Mike and Joan Renee Cook had a tumultuous marriage.

“They were never happy,” Joan’s sister Carol Huffman Byer told Dateline. “It was more of a comfort thing for both of them.”

The couple lived in Salem, Virginia with their young daughter, Ashlyn. But in 2007, Mike moved to Des Moines, Iowa to find a job, with plans for Joan and Ashlyn to join him once he was settled.

Meanwhile, though, Joan was also settling down, herself. She’d gotten a new job – and a new man. According to Carol, just three months after moving to Des Moines, Mike found out about Joan’s new relationship and moved back to Salem.

Joan Renee Cook

Carol told Dateline that’s when Mike and Joan’s rocky relationship took a turn for the worse. She says Mike started stalking Joan and her new boyfriend.

“Mike had done a couple of things,” Carol said. “He’d sit outside their work and wait to watch them come out. She says one weekend she saw him putting nails behind her tires.

“I confronted him on it and he said, ‘It was just a stupid thing I did’,” Carol said. She added, however, that, to her knowledge, her brother-in-law never made specific threats or showed violence.

By the end of 2009, Carol says Joan was living with her new boyfriend.

“Which wasn’t right – she knew our feelings on it,” Carol told Dateline. “She eventually wanted to get a divorce from Mike, but she couldn’t afford it at the time.”

Joan’s new boyfriend had a daughter, and had visitation with her every other weekend; on those weekends, Joan would stay with Mike and Ashlyn at the family home where they still lived.

On January 24, 2010, during one of those weekend stays, everything changed. Carol says it was cold that night and raining — certainly not ideal weather for a late-night walk around the neighborhood to see a friend.

Carol says Mike told her that the evening Joan left had been a completely normal night.

The Roanoke County Police Department did not respond to Dateline’s request for comment by publication time, but they told NBC affiliate WSLS that Joan left her home around 11 o’clock that night. Authorities say their last trace of the 44-year-old was a text from her phone to the friend she was allegedly going to see the night she vanished. The text was sent around 5:00 a.m. on January 25 – just six hours after she was last seen – and simply read: “I love you.”

Carol found out about Joan’s disappearance when Joan’s work called a few days later and said her sister hadn’t shown up for a couple of shifts.

“I was not able to get in touch with her,” Carol told Dateline. “I talked to her husband and he said the last time he’d seen her was on the night of the 24th when she had set off on foot for her friend’s house.”

Carol said Mike told her he hadn’t reported Joan missing yet, because he figured she was still around somewhere – she had been living with her new boyfriend, so Mike wouldn’t see her every day anyway.

The Roanoke County Police told WSLS Mike then reported Joan missing, and the investigation began.

“The police department used cadaver dogs in the front and back yard [of their home],” Carol told Dateline. “There was no blood evidence anywhere. Just – poof! She was gone.”

Carol told Dateline the police ruled out Joan’s new boyfriend as a suspect, because he was out of town with his daughter that weekend.

Carol said Mike has told police he and his wife weren’t arguing the night Joan vanished, and in Ashlyn’s interview with authorities, the then-7-year-old told police she didn’t hear anything loud or out of the ordinary in the house that night. Carol, though, believes Mike knows more than he’s saying.

“I truly think something happened between the two of them,” Carol told Dateline. And as the last person to have seen Joan, “he is the only one who knows anything.”

Police also believe someone close to the family knows what happened. While nobody has been charged in connection with Joan’s disappearance, now retired Roanoke County Police Department Commander David McMillan told WSLS in 2015 that he was optimistic about her case being solved.

"With witnesses time usually helps us, because they have time to think about it — to learn more and then make decisions to come forward," Commander McMillan told WSLS.

Carol said Joan’s daughter Ashlyn lived with her for a few months following Joan’s disappearance, but she and her dad Mike have since moved back to Des Moines, Iowa.

“[My family has] a slight relationship with Mike, only because of Ashlyn,” Carol told Dateline. “We can talk on the phone.”

Joan’s disappearance has caused pain for many of her family members.

“The ordeal caused my mother to have a mental breakdown. It’s been rough on her,” Carol said. “And our dad passed away about a year and a few months ago, so we’d like to have her home — to put her beside him.”

“Our biggest desire is justice,” Carol added.

Joan Renee Cook is described as being 5’6” tall and weighing 120 lbs. Both of her ears are pierced and she has two known tattoos: a frog on her lower middle back and a string of flowers around one ankle. For more on Joan’s case, visit the Find Joan Renee Cook Facebook page. If you have any information on Joan Renee Cook’s disappearance, please call the Roanoke County Police Department at 540-562-3265.

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Virginia Tech sputters in second half of Camping World Bowl

Virginia Tech sputters in second half of Camping World Bowl

For nearly the entire first half Thursday night, Virginia Tech looked like it had almost everything under control.

It appeared to have a chance to persevere after one huge goal-line mistake and control the tempo of the game against lightning-fast Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl, but the Hokies weren’t able to make its decent start last, failing to move the ball for big chunks of the second half and falling 30-21 against No. 19 Oklahoma State.

With the loss, No. 22 Tech saw its three-game bowl winning streak snapped. Despite missing starting wide receiver Cam Phillips, Tech (9-4) surprisingly managed to outgain Oklahoma State 518-492 in yardage, but the Cowboys found their offensive groove after the half.

After sputtering offensively for much of the second half, Tech still made a game of it late when quarterback Josh Jackson got hot throwing the ball with the Hokies trailing 27-14. When Oklahoma State (10-3) turned the ball over on downs at Tech’s 39-yard line, Jackson quickly moved the Hokies down the field to the Cowboys’ 5, completing 4-of-6 passes for 56 yards in the process.

Jackson got Tech within striking distance of Oklahoma State when he reached over the goal line on a 5-yard keeper to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 27-21.

Tech had to follow up with a stop, but Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill ran for 31 yards on third-and-11 from the Hokies’ 49 to help put the Cowboys in field goal range. Matt Ammendola put the game away on a 38-yard field goal with 2:34 left.

Tech’s evening started with a lot of promise, as the Hokies were able to accomplish their objective in the early going.

Leading 7-3 late in the first quarter, Tech had a chance to make a statement on a drive where everything it was trying to establish in the first half came together – effective running game, ball control and clock management. Disaster struck inside Oklahoma State’s 5.

Taking over at its own 9 with 5:46 left in the quarter, Tech held the ball for 18 plays and 10 minutes, four seconds, reaching Oklahoma State’s 1. On the 18th play, Tech was poised to punch it into the end zone for would’ve been its longest scoring drive of the season in terms of plays, yards and time of possession.

Instead, a bad exchange from Jackson to running back Steven Peoples resulted in a fumble that Oklahoma State safety Ramon Richards fell on at the Cowboys’ 9. Tech kept Oklahoma State out of the end zone on its ensuing drive, but the Cowboys did cut the Hokies’ lead to 7-6 with 7:28 left in the second quarter via a 36-yard field goal by Matt Amendola.

Tech couldn’t get inside Oklahoma State’s 49 on its final three drive of the half, but the Hokies’ defense stood tall for most of the remainder of the half. One play switched momentum Oklahoma State’s direction for good.

On second-and-6 from Oklahoma State’s 49 with under a minute left in the second quarter, quarterback Mason Rudolph found wide receiver Marcell Ateman running behind cornerback Adonis Alexander. Rudolph connected with Ateman for a 50-yard pass to Tech’s 1.

Running back Justice Hill scored on the next play via a 1-yard touchdown run to put Oklahoma State up 13-7 with 45 seconds left before halftime. Tech did what it planned to do in the first half, owning time of possession (19 minutes, 49 seconds compared to Oklahoma State’s 10 minutes, 11 seconds), but the lost fumble and Ateman’s big catch loomed large.

In the third quarter, Oklahoma State found the offensive rhythm that eluded it in the first half. Oklahoma State scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions that spanned the late second quarter and third quarter.

Rudolph capped Oklahoma State’s first drive of the second half by getting away from a rush, rolling to his right and completing a sharp 17-yard touchdown pass to receiver Dillon Stoner with 11:22 left in the third quarter to put the Cowboys up 20-7.

It was all Tech could do just to try to keep up from that point. No longer able to work the clock, Tech went to the air on the drive after Oklahoma State went up by 13, and managed to find the end zone.

After keeping the drive alive with a 22-yard completion to receiver Phil Patterson on third-and-6 that got Tech to Oklahoma State’s 43, Jackson ultimately punctuated the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Eric Kumah with 6:31 left to trim the Cowboys’ lead to 20-14.

To that point, Oklahoma State receiver James Washington hadn’t lived up to his Biletnikoff Award-winning reputation, with just one catch for no yards – and that “catch” came on a jet sweep that was called a forward pass.

He finally made an impact on the game midway through the third quarter.

Washington slipped past safety Reggie Floyd and Rudolph found him for a 65-yard touchdown pass with 5:37 remaining in the third quarter, extending Oklahoma State’s 27-14. It was his fifth touchdown catch of 60-plus yards this season.

Despite driving into Oklahoma State territory on its next two possessions, Tech couldn’t make up any ground. Tech moved from its own 25 to Oklahoma State’s 11 in 13 plays before Jackson and center Eric Gallo botched a snap on fourth-and-8, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by Jackson for a 16-yard loss.

Tech got the ball back at its own 31 after Oklahoma State turned it over on downs. Driving to Oklahoma State’s 29, Tech’s ensuing possession came to a conclusion when Jackson’s pass on third-and-2 slipped through Patterson’s hands and was picked off by cornerback Darius Curry.

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Alleged neo-Nazi teen charged with killing Virginia couple

Alleged neo-Nazi teen charged with killing Virginia couple

A 17-year-old has been charged with killing a Virginia couple, and is in the hospital with life-threatening, self-inflicted gunshot wounds, police say.

The couple, Scott Fricker, 48, and his wife, Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, 43, of Reston, were found dead in their home early Friday morning, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

Authorities did not identify the teen but said he was from nearby Lorton and knew the victims.

"The preliminary investigation determined the suspect, who knows the residents of the home, got inside and was then confronted by the couple. The suspect shot them both and then himself," Fairfax County police said in a press release, adding that four other family members were home at the time and were not injured in the shooting.

The mother of one of the victims told NBC Washington that the suspect was the couple’s daughter’s boyfriend. She said that in recent days, the couple had discovered that the boy was an alleged Nazi supporter.

Crime scene tape outside the home of Scott Fricker and his wife Buckley Kuhn-Fricker in Reston, Virginia.

"My daughter and her husband found out about a lot of the Nazi stuff just this past week, and they forbid their daughter to see him again," Janet Kuhn, the mother of Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, told NBC Washington.

Calls to Kuhn from NBC News on Sunday went unanswered. Fairfax County police did not immediately return an inquiry seeking more information on the suspect.

Buckley Kuhn-Fricker was an elder care expert and licensed attorney, according to her company website. Friends and family described her to the Washington Post as tolerant and committed to civil rights and social justice.

A friend who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Post recalled Kuhn-Fricker fretting over her daughter’s relationship and saying, “We can’t allow her to see someone associated with Nazis … We don’t associate with hate groups in our house.”

The killings stunned residents of Reston, a D.C. suburb just over 20 miles away from the Capitol.

"It’s amazing, because the loudest thing that happens around here is the occasional barking dog," a neighbor, Bill Aylward, told NBC Washington.

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Court rules Virginia House race is tied, winner to be picked ‘by lot’

Court rules Virginia House race is tied, winner to be picked ‘by lot’

Grasping at straws is one way to win an election, at least in Virginia.

A Democrat’s stunning one-vote victory in a hotly contested race for the Virginia House of Delegates this week suddenly became a tie on Wednesday after a three-judge panel ruled that an additional ballot should have been counted for the Republican.

Now, the winner will be determined "by lot," according to state law, and that could mean pulling a name out of a hat, a coin toss — or drawing straws.

The state Board of Elections said it hadn’t decided on the next move.

"Once the court has issued a final order, we can better evaluate what next steps are necessary for the State Board of Elections or Department of Elections to take," said Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes.

On Wednesday, Democrat Shelly Simonds was declared the apparent winner in the race for the 94th District, beating incumbent Republican David Yancey after a wild recount had Simonds ahead by one vote, flipped a red seat to blue, and created a 50-50 tie between the two parties in the Virginia House.

She won by 11,608 to 11,607, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. But the final tally now stands at 11,608 to 11,608.

Gary Anderson, the Newport News Circuit Court clerk, told NBC News that Yancey’s camp brought a statement to the judicial hearing on Wednesday from a county official stating that the official had made a mistake by not counting a ballot during the recount.

The ballot in question had a bubble filled in for Ed Gillespie, the Republican who lost the governor’s race in November, Simonds and Yancey. However, the bubble for Gillespie had an X mark and the bubble for Simonds had a slash-like mark. Anderson said the judges took the filled in bubble for Yancey, which was not crossed out, as intent to vote for him.

Judges have been in recess for two hours. Debating whether or not to count a ballot that looks somewhat like this. They would not allow photos of the actual ballot. pic.twitter.com/1GAJBWoTrM

— Jordan Pascale (@JWPascale) December 20, 2017

James Alcorn, chairman of the state Board of Elections, told The Richmond-Times Dispatch that ties are "rare," but they have been seen in local elections.

"In those situations, the electoral board typically draws names out of a hat. I believe one locality uses an old-fashioned tricorner hat for these occasions," Alcorn told the paper. "The State Board typically draws names out of a glass bowl when we’re picking the order of candidates for the ballot."

Anderson said he does not know for sure if it’s a landmark case, but added that he has never seen anything like it.

"Personally, I know of nothing in history like this," he said. "Several people I’ve chatted with think this is precedent-setting."

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Control of Virginia state House at stake as recounts begin

Control of Virginia state House at stake as recounts begin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Virginia officials started recounts on Wednesday in the first of four state House of Delegates races, a process that could lead to a Democratic takeover of the chamber after the party’s historic election gains last month.

FILE PHOTO: A campaign worker adjusts a podium sign at the election night rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S. on November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo

Republicans have a narrow 51-49 majority in the House after Democrats erased a two-to-one advantage in November, part of the party’s first big wave of victories since Republican Donald Trump won the White House last year.

Four of the legislative races were close enough to lead to recounts. If Democrats gain one seat in the House, the chamber would be tied 50-50 with no tiebreaking mechanism.

Governor-elect Ralph Northam is a Democrat, and Republicans hold a 21-19 edge in the state Senate.

The first recount was scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in suburban Washington’s District 58, where Republican incumbent Tim Hugo narrowly won re-election by 106 votes over Democrat Donte Tanner.

Others are planned for next week, including one where the Republican leads by only 10 votes.

In a recount set for Dec. 21 in northern Virginia’s District 28, Democrat Joshua Cole trails Republican Robert Thomas by 82 votes. The state elections board has said at least 147 voters were assigned to the wrong district, and voters have filed a federal lawsuit to hold a new election.

Andrea Gaines, a state elections spokeswoman, said in an email that she had no information on when results for the recounts would be announced.

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Virginia Tech offers 2018 4* RB

Virginia Tech offers 2018 4* RB

Blessings continuing to happen! Just received an offer from Virginia Tech 🦃🦃 #HardSmartTough❗️@WAYNNO14 pic.twitter.com/CMC4r3qr0o

Virginia Tech has extended another scholarship offer to 4* All-Purpose Running Back Jashaun Corbin out of Rockledge, Florida on Thursday afternoon. The 2018 running back has hauled in 35 offers throughout the recruiting process. He was the second offer to go out in Florida on Thursday.

Evaluation:

The 6-foot, 184-pound Corbin is a versatile, reliable weapon who also provides a significant spark in the passing game. He is an elusive runner who shows nice acceleration once getting his pads north and south, but also lowers his shoulder and fights through contact. Corbin can bounce it outside the tackles, or trust his vision by pounding it inside, but his do-it-all ability on the offensive side of the ball is what soaks up the attention of some of the nation’s premier football programs. Just get the ball in Corbin’s hands and let him go to work.

Corbin ranks as the No. 248 prospect in the nation, No. 6 All-Purpose Back, No. 46 prospect in the state of Florida according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. The 247Sports Crystal Ball currently reads 100% to the Seminoles. He recently decommitted from Florida State on December 3rd.

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U.Va., Virginia Tech land in ideal bowls

Virginia and Virginia Tech couldn’t have asked for any more from the ACC and its bowl partners Sunday. The Cavaliers and Hokies landed in ideal destinations against compelling opponents.

Reasonable fans couldn’t have asked any more from the College Football Playoff selection committee. The 13-member panel chose the playoff semifinalists deliberately and well, especially rewarding Alabama instead of Ohio State with the fourth and final spot.

Postseason-eligible for the first time since 2011, Virginia (6-6) is headed to the Dec. 28 Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md., versus homestanding Navy. The venue is an easy drive for legions of Cavaliers faithful — Virginia Tech partisans flocked there for the Hokies’ 2014 Military Bowl victory over Cincinnati — and offers a challenging foe.

This is the 14th bowl in the last 15 years for Navy (6-5 entering Saturday’s annual and unrivaled clash with Army). U.Va. administrators took a long look at Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo before hiring Brigham Young’s Bronco Mendenhall two years ago, and with good reason — Niumatalolo’s Navy teams are 83-47.

The Midshipmen run an option offense, which Niumatalolo continued after taking over for Paul Johnson when Johnson went to Georgia Tech. Navy ranks second to Army among Bowl Subdivision teams in rushing at 347.5 yards per game.

Then there is the tie that binds. Hoping to reverse decades of football failure, Virginia hired Navy coach George Welsh following the 1981 season. An accomplished quarterback at the Academy, Welsh elevated the Cavaliers to unforeseen heights that included six top-25 seasons — he is enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Virginia and Navy have have met 38 times, first in 1889. To answer the obvious question: I was not there.

On the same day that Virginia faces Navy, Virginia Tech (9-3) plays Oklahoma State (9-3) in Orlando’s Camping World Bowl. Many Hokies fans know Mickey’s town well, traveling there last season for the ACC championship game and in 2012 for what was then called the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Tech conquered Rutgers 13-10 in overtime in that game five years ago, and neither team mustered 200 yards of offense. Expect more points this time – perhaps by first quarter’s end.

Ranked 19th by the playoff committee, the Cowboys are third nationally in scoring at 46.3 points per game, and their quarterback, Mason Rudolph, leads the FBS with 379.4 yards passing per game. The Hokies recruited Rudolph when he played high school ball in Rock Hill, S.C.

The only team to pass for more than 250 yards against Virginia Tech this season is West Virginia (371), a Big 12 rival of Oklahoma State’s. The Hokies defeated the Mountaineers 31-24 in the season-opener.

Ranked 22nd by the selection committee and bowling for a 25th consecutive year, Tech is fifth nationally in scoring defense at 13.5 points per game and first in opponents’ completion percentage at 46.9.

Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster scheming against Cowboys coach Mike Gundy? Sign me up and pass the popcorn.

Bowl clarity for Tech and Virginia began to emerge at 12:30 p.m., Sunday, when the playoff selection committee unveiled its top six teams. As expected, Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia were seeded 1-3, with Alabama prevailing over Ohio State for the final semifinal spot.

Bama. Buckeyes. Nick Saban’s five national championships. Urban Meyer’s three.

There couldn’t have been a more fascinating choice.

The committee got it right, the Buckeyes’ Big Ten championship and top-10 victories over Wisconsin and Penn State notwithstanding. The Crimson Tide (11-1) has no top-10 wins — its best are over No. 17 LSU and No. 23 Mississippi State — but Ohio State (11-2) fell not only at home to No. 2 Oklahoma but also at unranked Iowa.

By 31 points! Alabama lost only at Auburn, by 12.

Losing by 31 should have consequences, and for the Buckeyes it did.

The Crimson Tide’s inclusion makes the Southeastern Conference the first league with two playoff representatives in the same season — SEC champ Georgia was an easy choice.

The Big Ten’s exclusion means that the only conferences represented in each of the four College Football Playoffs are the ACC and SEC.

Also important in the playoff’s early reveal Sunday was Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin at No. 6. When it’s not a CFP semifinal, the Orange Bowl is contracted to pit an ACC team versus the highest-ranked available opponent from among Notre Dame and the non-champions of the Big Ten and SEC.

That locked the Badgers into the Orange Bowl against ACC runner-up Miami, and when the Big Ten is the ACC’s Orange Bowl foe, the ACC inherits the Big Ten’s normal slot in the Citrus Bowl — I know, it’s confusing.

With Notre Dame not ranked high enough to earn a New Year’s Six bowl, it became part of the ACC’s postseason pool, and the Fighting Irish’s national brand made them an easy selection for the Citrus, leaving Virginia Tech to the Camping World.

Virginia Tech-Oklahoma State joins Clemson-Alabama (Sugar) and Miami-Wisconsin as bowl matchups pitting a top-25 ACC squad versus a ranked opponent.

Good company in which to be.

Teel can be reached by phone at 757-247-4636 or by email at dteel@dailypress.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP.

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