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Pejorative term used in college football to denote the fact that the champion of NCAA Division I-A is not determined by a playoff, but rather by (among other things) votes by the press and coaches and a computer system.

While generally agreeing with VT above, I would add that many people use the term "mythical national championship" in a positive way-
as in "We (Florida State) won the MNC."

The actual championship of college football in the United States is decided by a complicated payoff system, also known as the Bowl Championship Series, with little of that cash going to the players.

The BCS is the only "championship series" known to man that involves 10 teams and only playoff game.

In addition to being used in college football due to the lack of playoffs, the term is also used in college basketball prior to the introduction of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. Prior to the NCAA Tournament's establishment in 1939, there was no way to legitimately determine a national champion, and so any team that claims a national championship prior to that year is probably claiming the title from the Helms Athletic Foundation(no relation to Jesse Helms), which founded in 1936, decided on a national champion each year(in years where the NCAA Tournament is held, it almost always agreed with said tournament), and retroactively decided on champions all the way back to 1901. For example, despite winning only four NCAA Tournaments, UNC also claims to be the national champion in 1924, allowing them to claim to have won five.

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