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What We Learned From College Football Selection Day: Did the Committee Get It Right?

Braden Fiske Patrick Payton Florida State Seminoles
Braden Fiske #55 and Patrick Payton #11 of the Florida State Seminoles react against Louisville Cardinals during the ACC Championship. Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images/AFP

In one of the most controversial committee votes of all time, an undefeated college football Power 5 conference champion was excluded from the College Football Playoff, and Florida State fans are not happy. But did the committee get it right or were the Seminoles unjustly excluded from national championship contention?

Seminoles Fans on the Warpath

If you are reading this column, then you undoubtedly know by now that the top four teams in the nation, as voted on by the College Football Playoff selection committee, are as follows:

  1. Michigan Wolverines (13-0)
  2. Washington Huskies (13-0)
  3. Texas Longhorns (12-1)
  4. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1)

I’ll be honest. I’m not a big fan of expanding playoff formats as it feels a little too much like a participation trophy for teams that were good but not quite elite. However, there are exceptions to every rule and the CFP format is one of them. This year was the first time a Power 5 team remained undefeated and won its conference crown, yet failed to make the CFP.

Although the four teams that were voted in are all CFP-worthy, a case can certainly be made for the undefeated ACC champions, Florida State. But the Seminoles had a few things working against them, chief among them was the fact that the quarterback leading the Noles to all but three of those victories, Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Travis, sustained a season-ending leg injury.

And to make matters worse, FSU’s second-stringer, Tate Rodemaker, was unable to suit up in the team’s ACC title tilt against Louisville, forcing untested freshman, Brock Glenn, into action. Glenn was 8-of-21 for 55 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in the Seminoles victory.

Moreover, Florida State also had a fairly easy schedule, facing only two top 20 teams this season with victories over then No. 5 LSU and No. 16 Duke. The former would end the season at No.13 while the latter finished out of the top 25 with a 7-5 record.

The LSU Win

We should also note that as dominating and impressive as FSU’s 45-24 victory over LSU was, it happened in the first week of the season with Travis under center. Much has changed since then.

Had the Seminoles been ranked No.4, it would mean a sparsely used second-string or third-string quarterback would start in the CFP semifinal against the top team in the nation. This was the tilting point for the committee.

In the minds of many voters, it was a blowout waiting to happen, and Florida State as presently constituted, was not better than SEC champ, Alabama, despite the Tide’s opening week loss to No. 3 Texas.

If you are a Seminoles fan, you have every reason to be outraged, but that doesn’t make you right. Imagine bringing the same indignation and making the identical case for a CFP berth after FSU gets whooped by No. 6 Georgia in the Orange Bowl on December 30th. That argument would fall on deaf ears, and when the Noles do get blown out by the Dawgs, it will confirm that the committee made the right decision, painful as it may be to Florida State fans.

End of an Error

In addition to Florida State being excluded, we could also make a case for powerhouses like Georgia (12-1), Ohio State (11-1), and Oregon (11-2). It is clear that the four-team CFP format is a bit too narrow and a tournament of eight is just about the right size.

Perhaps the best quote I have read regarding the CFP’s current state of affairs comes from former New England Patriot and 3x Super Bowl champion, Rub Smoke Love entrepreneur and an outstanding X (formerly Twitter) follow, Matt Chatham, who posted:

Matt Chatham @chatham58

“The College Football Playoff system was always thoroughly moronic, just sucks for the athletes that have to be the final illustration for the adults who screwed this up for so long

Yes, a 4 team playoff for 5 power conferences is a problem—one the kids on Sesame Street could see”

Matt put it perfectly. A four-team playoff for five Power 5 conferences is a recipe for disaster but that chapter is closing on this format, albeit one season too late for Florida State. Next season will see a dozen teams get their tickets punched to the postseason tournament, which means the top four teams will get a first-round bye while the remaining eight will fight it out with No. 5 playing No. 12, and so on.

Like most things that need fixing, the pendulum often swings too far to rectify the previous wrongs in an effort to ameliorate those offenses. Such is the case with the upcoming College Football Playoff format.

A dozen teams are too much, four teams too little, but instead of righteous indignation from an undefeated Power 5 conference winner like Florida State, we will bear witness to foot-stomping from a 13th-ranked team with a bone to pick. Now that we can handle.

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