Some tweets embedded in this article contain explicit language
As you may have heard Florida State football went 13-0 won the ACC Championship and was jumped by two one-loss SEC teams in Texas (SEC member in 2024) and Alabama (current SEC member).
Very few people in the media can understand the logic but they’re really not looking at the full picture. This is not a College Football Playoff Committee decision, this is an ESPN decision. No, ESPN didn’t call up CFPC Boo Corrigan and tell him who to pick (probably) but they are the worldwide leader in sports coverage. They do own the media rights to the College Football Playoffs and are heavily invested in the SEC. When these committee members sit down to figure out who the top four teams are they are likely basing it on information ESPN has given them either through their myriad of TV shows or statistical information.
Yes, FSU is an ESPN partner but let’s be realistic — the contract that ESPN has with the ACC is meaningless when compared to the one they have with the SEC. It is in ESPN’s best interest to pump the SEC as much as possible. They showed this when they got Texas and Oklahoma to join the SEC and are continuing to do it now.
In 2013, ESPN pundits panned FSU’s strength of schedule. In 2014, (the first year for the playoffs) ESPN created a game control stat that was never explained and hasn’t been used since. That year the ‘Noles did make the playoffs but were seeded behind three one-loss teams. In 2023, Jordan Travis’s injury kept FSU out of the playoffs completely but that’s more of an excuse.
What’s even more blatant — ESPN riding the ridiculous situation for content clout, with the network turning Jordan Travis’ devastating post where he wished he broke his leg earlier(!!!) into some sort of weird tribute:
ESPN being largely responsible for this situation then generating content based on the real life effects it has on people is so fucked up pic.twitter.com/bHJ6iHvmBQ— nick (@nick_pants) December 4, 2023
Posting this garbage to 44 million people. Zero shame pic.twitter.com/KGqm3biP3s— luke “Uncle T” zim (@lukezim) December 4, 2023
1. Create the news event— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) December 5, 2023
2. Foment the reaction on your TV shows and social
3. Hand your news division the access piece https://t.co/I6LCjiwjlt
As Jordan Silversmith wrote, the seeds were being planted well before he went down to try and make sure Florida State wasn’t making the playoffs — this was just an easy scapegoat.
The worst part is the violent moving of the goalposts used by ESPN. Using the same reasons and coming to different conclusions from one year to the next is one thing. After all, there are always different variables to account for but they aren’t even that sly about it.
From a piece from the four-letter network detailing the committee’s “process:”
“All of us had the emotional tie, like, ‘Holy s---, this is really going to suck to do this,’” one committee member told ESPN. “We talked about that over and over, and we just kept coming back [to] are they good enough with what they have to win a national championship, and it just kept coming back [to] we didn’t think they could.”
There wasn’t any discussion about the SEC being left out because the committee maintains that it talks about teams, not conferences. There wasn’t any serious consideration to include Alabama without Texas because there was so much respect in the room for the Longhorns’ Week 2 win in Tuscaloosa. There also wasn’t enough support in the room to deem Georgia “unequivocally” one of the four best teams in the country — the standard for teams that don’t win their conference title.
Instead, the crux of the debate into the wee hours of Sunday morning centered around how to evaluate Florida State, which beat Louisville with its third-string quarterback after both Jordan Travis and his backup, Tate Rodemaker, were sidelined by injuries. While the Seminoles’ defense impressed the committee — and had all year — there were significant concerns about FSU’s offense.
It wasn’t until the ACC championship game began to unfold, though, that the members’ opinions began to truly take shape. The group grew concerned as it watched the Noles struggle to get a first down in the first half. There is a section in the committee’s protocol that specifically refers to the “unavailability of key players ... that may have affected a teams performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.” That allowed the committee to do something it intentionally avoids every other week: look ahead.
From a CBS Sports piece:
Hancock doubled down on CFP chairman Boo Corrigan’s contention that Florida State wasn’t the same team without Travis.
“It was gut-wrenching,” that committee member told CBS Sports under the condition of anonymity. “For me, individually, I evaluated [whether they could] make it through and win a national championship with the team they had.”
That person concluded the Seminoles could not win the national title without injured starting quarterback Jordan Travis. The potential ability for a team to win a national championship is not part of the CFP’s selection protocol.
“People are putting this on [Travis] … they shouldn’t do that,” Hancock said. “What [Corrigan] said was, ‘They’re not the same team.’ No one can argue with that. ... They’re not the same team without Jordan Travis. That’s all I can say. I’m trying not to be a smart ass.”
But the Seminoles would have essentially had a month to get backup Tate Rodemaker (out with concussion symptoms) ready for a Jan. 1 bowl game. Rodemaker already won as FSU’s starter the week prior at Florida. In the first CFP nine years ago, Ohio State was down to its third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones, and eventually won the national championship.
“The [Florida State] backup wasn’t Cardale Jones’ level I don’t think,” that committee member said.
“I learned a long time ago you really can’t — we say — project. You can’t go, ‘What if this team wins or this team loses or this team wins?’ It’s a waste of time of energy,” he said. “You have to wait and see what happens on the field.”
Think about the implications there for a second — the committee apparently decided from a single game, from a single aspect of the sport, that an undefeated record does not matter. They ignored the fact that third-string freshman quarterback Brock Glenn, in his first relevant time on the field, got the job done and effectively managed the Seminoles to a win — and that for all the hand-wringing about him hampering Florida State’s offense, he wouldn't even be on the field should FSU have made the playoff as Tate Rodemaker would’ve been back under center with weeks of prep time. They dismissed the fact that the FSU defense had ascended and elevated itself to become arguably the country’s best.
They know it doesn’t matter because we’ll continue to watch as both ESPN and Fox have a stranglehold of college football, which is an inelastic market.
In 2021, @espn used their platform to lobby for a 2-loss Alabama to be in the playoff due to their strength of record.— Brent Gann (@BrentGann) December 4, 2023
This year they lobbied for 1-loss Alabama to get in despite their strength of record.
They choose the teams and back into the metrics and logic. pic.twitter.com/qENd07GM9b
This is a real segment on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/G5D80ExV1Z— Zach Blostein (@ZBlostein247) December 4, 2023
“We have to stop saying this Florida State team went undefeated....this team did not. The team two weeks ago with Jordan Travis did. This is a different football team.”
Hey @danorlovsky7 pretty cool clip of your analysis about FSU a couple weeks ago, did you leave your integrity in the back of the end zone in Minnesota? Just another flip flopping analyst for ESPN with no credibility@Seminoles @ESPNCFB pic.twitter.com/VLTyabJYI4— Rbola (@RBianaGrande) December 4, 2023
“If Florida State wins out, they absoloutely deserve to be in the College Football Playoff.”
“Florida State will be in the college football playoffs — it’ll be a travesty if they aren’t.”
Here’s a rundown of talking heads and committee chair Boo Coorigan, who just kept continuously moving the goalposts, setting up the narrative that would eventually leave Florida State out:
(Also, a disclaimer that is unfortunately necessary: while these takes are infuriating, there is no reason at all to target or abuse the people who put them out there — especially not their families.)
October 12, 2014
Why such sensitivity from FSU fans. If you win out you'll be IN the top 4 regardless. Who cares who's 1 or 2. Goal is to FINISH in top 4!— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) October 12, 2014
October 22, 2023
Just win out. Who gives a shit where anyone is till December. https://t.co/boxz3Ndffe— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) October 22, 2023
In your example the locks would be— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) October 22, 2023
Debate would be between OU/FSU for last spot. In which FSU would win out with willingness to play powerhouse program in LSU and beat them. That’s their trump card. https://t.co/XkeFsfhbqO
November 18, 2023
- Before Jordan Travis’ injury, the argument is made already to leave out FSU in favor of Alabama and Texas
November 28, 2023
Herbstreit implied that FSU getting in without Travis would reduce the playoffs to a ‘participation award’ because the semifinals have often been uncompetitive. It’s a comparison by juxtaposition because it was said immediately after and before another colleague spoke about FSU.
A quarterback throwing half as many touchdowns as interceptions in his career getting to play 38 games at Ohio State seems like a participation award to me but I digress.
November 29, 2023
“I think that we have to be careful. We live in an era where it’s like, OK, they’re undefeated, so they’re in because they’re in the Power 5. I don’t do that. I’m really big on the best 4 teams. It’s subjective.”
If Oregon wins and they’re a one-loss team and they beat Washington on Friday night, I can’t not put Oregon in...If Georgia wins, if Michigan wins, if Florida State wins, if Oregon wins, if Texas wins, we’ve got a serious dilemma.”
“That committee, now matter what they do, it’s wrong, or who they put in they’re gonna be wrong. If you think Florida State’s one of the best teams with Tate Rodemaker, then that’s no problem, but I’m just not big on, they’re undefeated, so we have to put them in.”
December 3, 2023
“That undefeated thing it’s a bunch of BS. Undefeated, to me, means nothing,” Herbstreit said during an appearance on ESPN. “I know winning matters but are they, right now, without Jordan Travis, one of the best four teams?
“I’ve called a lot of these semifinal games and they average 19 points [margin of victory] because we do what’s the right thing? We need to put the right thing to the side and put the best teams in there.”
Unfortunately significant injuries impact teams as much as head to head matchups and conference championships. You can’t ignore the impact the loss of Jordan Travis had on the Noles. Sucks..but big part of a teams final evaluation https://t.co/lRuq92gQHu— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) December 3, 2023
November 29, 2023
You're mad because I think FSU should be in the CFP regardless of their QB Injury.— Greg McElroy (@GregMcElroy) November 29, 2023
You suggest we won a Natty in 2009 "in spite of me" at QB.
So... do you need a QB to win a Natty?
If yes, then I must've helped in 2009.
If no, then FSU's QB Injury shouldn't matter.
This is laughable @GregMcElroy— Jackson "JBake" Bakich (@jacksonbakich) December 4, 2023
How does your opinion in which you *pound the table* for, change in just 4 days? “The sanctity of our sport is at stake!” Lol. Not only is the sanctity of our sport dead (as you predicted), but perhaps trustworthiness sports media is, too. pic.twitter.com/QVUTymbb7R
“I look at the idea of an undefeated, power five team being left out as an absolute travesty,”
November 30, 2023
Greg McElroy is only one with a brain right now pic.twitter.com/iE5JSg7GGv— FSU Plays Daily (@FSUplays) December 1, 2023
“If we hold the sanctity of the college football regular season....it’s so important, so valuable, results have to matter. Florida State won all their results...FSU doesn’t have a terrible resume at all. They’re a team that’s undefeated. I don’t care if you win by one or one hundred, if you win the games, you deserve credit.”
December 3, 2023
November 21, 2023
“[Jordan Travis’ injury] didn’t have any impact [on moving FSU down to No. 5]. As we’re watching the game, Florida State starts off down 13. [Tate] Rodemaker comes into the game, they score 58 consecutive points. They’ve got a lot of dudes on the field, Rece [Davis]. They’ve got a lot of guys who can play. As we’re looking at it, that’s where we are this week. Again, anything beyond that is going to be projecting.
“That’s what the next couple weeks are going to be about, is continuing to watch Florida State. They’ve got a couple of tough games against Florida down in the Swamp and the ACC championship [vs. Louisville]. We’ve got two more evaluation points that are going to come in the next two weeks.”
November 28, 2023
It’s pretty obvious, with Jordan Travis not playing and Tate Rodemaker playing, they’re a different team, just as anyone would be if they lost their quarterback in that situation. But they were able to get a win down in Gainesville. They were able to put up 24 points. Defense let up 13. There was a safety.
We’re just evaluating it at this point where they are with the body of work throughout the season, while a topic of discussion, as it should be, as injuries should be at this point, and player availability, if you will, it’s a big part of the conversation.
December 3rd, 2023
Q. Last week or actually less than a week ago, you guys put Florida State in the top 4 while saying their offense was different without Jordan Travis. With a quarterback who you know would be available for the College Football Playoff. What was different in a game that they ultimately beat a top-15 opponent and as you mentioned the defense was dominant? Essentially what changed from Tuesday to Saturday with what was different without Jordan Travis that made you cautious about it?
Well, I mean, there’s other teams that played, and Texas playing, Alabama playing, Alabama beating Georgia. Again, it would be great if it was just in isolation as we did this, but it is in combination as we’re looking at it.
The fact that Rodemaker was not there, we did have limited access visual on the job that he did, but again, looking at the top four, we had to decide if Florida State was better than Michigan, Washington, Texas or Alabama, and in the eyes of the committee, Florida State was fifth.
Q. What was your response to — there’s just a lot of statements made but one from Mike Norvell saying that he wondered why play the games if they win all their games and do everything that they’ve been asked and are left out. What’s your response to that claim?
BOO CORRIGAN: It’s a unique year. To have the conference champions that we had, to have the undefeated teams going into it, eight teams vying for an opportunity to be there, injuries do happen, and regardless of what we do, someone is going to be disappointed in what we do.
But the committee’s job and the 13 people in the room is to come up with what they believe are the best four teams.
Q. Boo, similar to Florida State, SMU lost its starting quarterback late in the season. Did that play any factor in the decision to have Liberty ahead of SMU?
BOO CORRIGAN: No, it didn’t. As we were looking at it, Liberty 5-0 against teams .500 or above, put up 700 plus yards against New Mexico State, a team that a week before went down and held Auburn to 10 points.
Q. What do you say to people that say you rewarded Liberty for going undefeated despite the strength of schedule that you mentioned and did the opposite for someone like Florida State?
BOO CORRIGAN: Well, again, everything is — we don’t look at it as compare one to another, between No. 5 and No. 23. Not to take away from what Liberty did this year and the job that they played. They can only play the people that are on their schedule. They were dominant on the field, as I said before. They were 5-0 against teams above .500.
Again, Florida State, great year. Really hard for everyone down there, but the injury to Jordan Travis is something that in the eyes of the committee changed them as a team. Rodemaker and Brock Glenn came in, but they’re a different team with Jordan Travis on the field.