Unprecedented season led College Football Playoff to buck history, but Florida State's gripes are legitimate



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The College Football Playoff Selection Committee had been consistent over the first nine years of the event’s existence: Undefeated Power Five conference teams make the playoff; one-loss teams that played each other are ranked winner ahead of loser.

However, 2023 was an unprecedented college football season. We entered Championship Week with four undefeated teams and four others with one loss — all making up the top eight of the CFP Rankings. That is the most ever. Also, three of the four teams with one loss had fallen to one of the other teams in that group.

There was little separation among the top eight teams, five of which won conference championships over the weekend.

Florida State was left out of the playoff despite finishing 13-0 as the ACC champion and being ranked in the top four all but one week of the season (Nov. 21). Instead, the College Football Playoff will consist of No. 1 Michigan facing No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl semifinal and No. 2 Washington battling No. 3 Texas in the Sugar Bowl semifinal.

The committee felt the Seminoles on Dec. 3 were not the same team without star quarterback Jordan Travis, who was injured during a throwaway game against North Alabama on Nov. 18. FSU beat Florida with backup QB Tate Rodemaker, but he missed the ACC Championship Game with Louisville, a 16-6 win helmed by freshman third-stringer Brock Glenn.

“Florida State is a different team than they were through the first 11 weeks,” CFP Selection Committee chairman Boo Corrigan said. “Coach [Mike] Norvell, their players, their fans — an incredible season. But as you look at who they are as a team right now without Jordan Travis, without the offensive dynamic that he brings to it, they are a different team and the committee voted Alabama four and Florida State five.”

Sorry, I have a hard time with the committee leaving Florida State out. It are being punished for not having Travis despite showing it can continue to win regardless of who is under center. If that was such a concern, the committee could have made this move last week or the week before.

Texas and Alabama each had losses with their regular quarterbacks, but they earned spots in the four-team field. At least the committee kept the Longhorns ahead of the Crimson Tide, reflecting the on-field result between the two — a 10-point win by Texas at Alabama back on Sept. 9.

There was not enough room for all five teams, but in this case, it’s the Tide that should have been left out. Wins and losses — or in this case, a lack of losses — should mean something.

Needless to say, FSU is disenchanted with the committee’s decision. Athletic director Michael Alford issued a scathing statement calling the decision an “unwarranted injustice” and “unforgivable.”

The expanded 12-team playoff cannot get here soon enough, but it will be year too late for FSU.

Florida State will face two-time reigning champion Georgia in the Orange Bowl. If the Seminoles win that game and improve to 14-0 — particularly if the Bulldogs’ star players suit up for the bowl — I guess they can declare themselves a national champion.

There was a domino effect from Florida State being left out of the CFP. Louisville was on its way to the Orange Bowl as the ACC representative, but the Cardinals did not qualify for the New Year’s Six on their own merits, so Ole Miss took spot and play Penn State in the Peach Bowl.

That put Louisville into a crowded pool of bowl-eligible teams from the ACC. The league will have two more than it needs to fill its spots. Meanwhile, the SEC is three teams short. (More places to put all those Sun Belt teams!)

Liberty emerged as the Group of Five representative, edging out AAC champion SMU. Despite not playing the strongest schedule, in this case, being undefeated was apparently enough. The Mustangs had two losses, and that was one too many. It is the first time that Conference USA has sent its champion to the New Year’s Six with the Flames facing Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.





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