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While four teams are celebrating the opportunity to play for a national title on the field, undefeated ACC champion Florida State is on the outside, becoming the first unbeaten Power 5 conference winner to ever miss out on the College Football Playoff.
“The consequences of giving in to a narrative of the moment are destructive, far reaching, and permanent. Not just for Florida State, but college football as a whole,” FSU athletic director Michael Alford said in a statement. “The argument of whether a team is the ‘most deserving OR best’ is a false equivalence. It renders the season up to yesterday irrelevant and significantly damages the legitimacy of the College Football Playoff.
“… The committee failed college football today.”
Added ACC commissioner Jim Phillips: “It’s unfathomable.”
While Michigan (13-0, Big Ten champion), Washington (13-0, Pac-12 champion), Texas (12-1, Big 12 champion) and Alabama (12-1, SEC champion) were the top four teams who made it into the playoff, the Seminoles (13-0) were judged by an untimely run of injuries at the quarterback position.
Instead, Florida State, as the No. 5 seed, will face the two-time defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs (No. 6) in the Orange Bowl.
“Their exclusion calls into question the selection process and whether the Committee’s own guidelines were followed, including the significant importance of being an undefeated Power Five conference champion,” Phillips said in his statement. “My heart breaks for the talented FSU student-athletes and coaches and their passionate and loyal fans.
“Florida State deserved better. College football deserved better.”
The committee seemed to focus on how competitive the Seminoles would be in the playoff without quarterback Jordan Travis, who suffered a season-ending leg injury in mid-November. FSU started backup Tate Rodemaker in its regular-season finale victory over Florida Gators, but a concussion kept him out of the ACC title game.
“I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so y’all could see this team is much more than the quarterback,” Travis posted to X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday.
devastated. heartbroken. In so much disbelief rn, I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so y’all could see this team is much more than the quarterback. I thought results matter. 13-0 and this roster matches up across any team in those top 4 rankings. I am so sorry. Go Noles!
— Jordan Travis (@jordantrav13) December 3, 2023
“The 2023 Florida State Seminoles are the epitome of a total TEAM,” Alford said in his statement. “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. It is unforgiveable.
“The fact that this team has continued to close out victories in dominant fashion facing our current quarterback situation should have ENHANCED our case to get a playoff berth EARNED on the field. Instead, the committee decided to elevate themselves and ‘make history’ today by departing from what makes this sport great by excluding an undefeated Power 5 conference champion for the first time since the advent of the BCS/CFP era that began 25 years ago. This ridiculous decision is a departure from the competitive expectations that have stood the test of time in college football.”
Florida State was No. 4 in the previous CFP rankings and, prior to Sunday’s selections, no team ranked outside the top six of the second-to-last CFP rankings had ever jumped into the final four. Alabama and Texas both accomplished that feat Sunday.
“Florida State is a different team than it was the first 11 weeks,” CFP selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan told ESPN. “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.”
Alford vehemently denied that should even matter.
“Wins matter. Losses matter. Those that compete in the arena know this,” Alford said. “Those on the committee who also competed in the sport and should have known this have forgotten it. Today, they changed the way success is assessed in college football, from a tangible metric — winning on the field — to an intangible, subjective one. Evidently, predicting the future matters more.
“For many of us, today’s decision by the committee has forever damaged the credibility of the institution that is the College Football Playoff. And, saddest of all, it was self-inflicted. They chose predictive competitiveness over proven performance; subjectivity over fact. They have become a committee of prognosticators. They have abandoned their responsibility by discarding their purpose — to evaluate performance on the field.”
Georgia’s pursuit of a third straight national championship was derailed by one ill-timed loss. The Bulldogs (12-1) had won 29 straight games, but Saturday’s loss to Alabama in the SEC title game left Georgia on the outside looking in. As a result, the Bulldogs become the first No. 1 team in the penultimate CFP rankings to fall out of the top four after losing in Championship Week.
The SEC champion has never been left out of the College Football Playoff. Alabama, which is in for the eighth time, kept that streak alive.
The SEC has won the past four national championships (Georgia twice, Alabama and LSU), and six of the nine titles overall during the CFP era. Twice, two SEC teams have played for the championship: Alabama beat Georgia for the 2017 title, and Georgia topped Alabama for the 2021 title.