On Sunday, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee unveiled the four teams set to compete in the coveted College Football Playoff (CFP): Michigan, the University of Washington, the University of Texas and the University of Alabama. Yet, the omission of the undefeated Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State University from the elite group has ignited a storm of controversy.
The committee's decision to sideline FSU in favor of Alabama — who lost to Texas during week two of the regular season — has not only left fans in disbelief but has also triggered a fierce debate over perceived biases regarding the committee's favoritism toward the Southeastern Conference.
A prominent argument regarding the exclusion of FSU revolves around the absence of star quarterback Jordan Travis who suffered a season-ending leg injury in week 12. Despite losing Travis, they were able to defeat their rival at the University of Florida and advance to the ACC championship where they beat 14th-ranked Louisville. The CFP Selection Committee chairman Boo Corrigan spoke to ESPN on Sunday about the committee’s decision to exclude FSU, attributing it to Travis’ injury.
“As you look at who they are as a team right now, without Jordan Travis, without the offensive dynamic he brings, they are a different team and the committee voted Alabama four and Florida State five,” Corrigan said.
This line of reasoning not only completely diminishes the value of team sports, but ignores the fact that without Travis, they still went undefeated and won the ACC championship this season.
FSU’s Athletic Director Micheal Alford strongly disagrees with Corrigan's reasoning. Alford said Sunday that the quarterback situation should have enhanced the team’s case for the playoff and called the decision to exclude them unreasonable.
“To eliminate them from a chance to compete for a national championship is an unwarranted injustice that shows complete disregard and disrespect for their performance and accomplishments,” Alford said. “It is unforgivable."
Many football analysts are weighing in as well. For instance, ESPN college football analyst Dan Mullen shared his frustration with the committee over this decision.
“[Mike Norvell] has to go explain to 18 to 22 year olds – you did everything that was asked of you. You did more,” Mullen said. “You’ve done it all – yet this group of 13 people decided that you didn’t deserve it, even though you earned it on the field.”
Despite losing its star player, FSU made strategic adjustments. The Seminoles’ defense didn’t give up 30 points in a single game all year, but the same cannot be said about any of the four playoff teams. They had more offensive yards in the ACC Championship than Michigan did in the Big 10 Championship. They held Louisville's Top 20 Offense to 6 points and they beat four Top 25 teams. Yet, they've become the first undefeated Power 5 conference champion to not get into the CFP. Each and every player earned the right to a spot in the playoffs with or without Travis, and he agrees.
“I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so y'all could see this team as much more than the quarterback,” Travis stated. “I thought results matter.”
The committee's decision also raises questions regarding the value of scheduling Top 25 non-conference games during the regular season. FSU scheduled a game versus an SEC opponent, Louisiana State University, who was ranked fifth overall at the time, for week one. The Seminoles made a statement by winning the game by 21 points which should have been taken into consideration by the committee in comparison to Alabama's 14-point win over LSU at home.
As seen in CFP history, a good team doesn’t need their starting quarterback to compete at a championship level. In 2015, Ohio State won the national championship with its third-string quarterback Cardale Jones. There is no evidence to suggest that FSU couldn’t have pulled off the same and overcome the setbacks it has faced if given the opportunity.
“A team that overcame tremendous adversity and found a way to win doing whatever it took on the field was cheated today,” FSU head coach Mike Norvell said Sunday. “It’s a sad day for college football.”
The controversy surrounding FSU's snub in favor of Alabama amplifies the need for a comprehensive review of the selection process. The upcoming expansion to a 12-team format signifies progress and will aim to address situations like this. However, addressing current biases is crucial to ensuring the integrity and fairness of the CFP.