After last night's release of the final regular-season College Football Playoff rankings, we're a little clearer on just where Florida State may wind up with regard to its bowl game. Let's start with scenarios that you can pretty much dismiss by this point. The first thing to note is that the 'Noles, at No. 9, can essentially rule out the Music City, Belk, and Pinstripe Bowls as possible destinations; and that's good news that basically reflects the success of FSU's 10-2 2015 campaign. Conversely, you can also drop any hope of the Seminoles making the College Football Playoff-- which you should have done after their loss at Clemson.
Three realistic scenarios remain: the first, and most likely of which, is FSU playing in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, on December 31st at noon. Garnering an invite to a New Year's Six bowl would be a tremendous accomplishment for this rebuilding Florida State team, and if things play out as they should, ATL will be the destination for many a 'Nole fan. This would likely change if North Carolina upsets Clemson in the ACC title game, a pick that is certainly trending of late. A UNC win would probably mean Clemson or North Carolina grabbing that Peach Bowl spot, as neither would figure to be headed for the playoff.
Yes, the Fiesta Bowl is also an NY6 bowl with an at-large selection, but its committee is certainly aware of the west-coast fatigue many Seminole supporters are feeling. Traveling to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl's 2013 national title game was one thing-- FSU fans expected to win, and made the trek in droves. Far fewer headed west last year, even though a championship still hung in the balance. And even less garnet and gold would be in the stands for the Fiesta Bowl, which isn't a look committees like. Notre Dame, on the other hand, is an ideal candidate for the Fiesta Bowl, as the Irish have fans everywhere, many of whom have plenty of money and may relish the opportunity at a mid-winter Arizona vacation.
If UNC does upend Clemson on Saturday, the other options for FSU are Orlando for the Russell Athletic Bowl (December 29, 5:30 pm) and Jacksonville for the TaxSlayer Bowl (January 2, noon). But the same logic surrounding Florida State fans tiring of the west coast from past events could be applied to the future, with regard to Orlando.
The 'Noles are already slated to play their spring game in Orlando in 2016, along with their season opener against Ole Miss. Are Seminoles really that excited about making three separate trips to the same destination in less than a year? If you live in the area, it's very convenient, but if not, you're probably deciding which one or two events you'd most like to attend.
Which brings us to Jacksonville. It's the closest possible bowl destination for the Seminoles and their fans, in a pro stadium in which FSU has no current future plans of playing. The good news, for the 'Noles, is that they'd figure to be the de facto home team in any of the above-outlined scenarios.
One stalwart theme overrides this entire conversation, folks. It's not about which team "deserves" what, or tradition, or bias, or anything else-- other than profit. And money only shows up when fans do. Bowls -- and the cities that host them -- want to cash in, and that means they they'll court whichever teams give them the best shot at doing so.