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Feeling Bad for Florida State? Don’t!


The world of college football fans were watching Monday, Jan. 8, when the top two teams — the University of Michigan and the University of Washington —  faced off in the NCAA championship game. But the road to the final game angered a lot of fans.

In particular, Florida State fans were furious that their team, which had an undefeated record in the regular season, wasn’t selected among the top four teams in the playoff bracket. 

As we know now, and as I’ve said for weeks now, those fans were wrong.

On Sunday, December 3, 2023, the college football committee released the final rankings for the college football playoff, and they went as follows with a star denoting a playoff team: 1. Michigan* (13-0); 2. Washington* (13-0); 3. Texas* (12-1); 4. Alabama* (12-1); 5. Florida State (13-0); and 6. Georgia (12-1).

Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama were in the playoffs with a shot at the championship: Florida State and Georgia were left in the cold to duke it out in the Orange Bowl. Florida State fans, in particular, were angry that their team’s undefeated record wasn’t enough to get them into the four-team playoffs. 

A little context: The college football playoff is a four-team bracket that was introduced in 2014, to make the national championship game more fair and give more teams a shot at winning a ring. Starting in the 2024-25 season, a new format will begin that includes a 12-team playoff system. 

The committee’s main reason for leaving out the Seminoles from the playoff was that their starting quarterback, Jordan Travis, suffered a season-ending ankle injury in week 12 against North Alabama. Although they were able to win-out without their star quarterback, the team was far weaker in his absence.

This was shown in the ACC Championship against Louisville, where they won by a flimsy 16-6 margin. They played an extremely conservative game, and looked completely different than they did with Travis under center. 

Florida State fan and MHS Senior, Kal Wilson, poses the question, “If FSU didn’t make the playoffs because Jordan Travis was injured, why wasn’t he a Heisman finalist?” That is a great point by Kal, and maybe Jordan Travis should have been a Heisman finalist, but the fact of the matter is that even though he isn’t seen as one of the four most valuable players in the country, the Seminoles are a completely different team without him. 

Additionally, the 2023-24 season has been the last season of the PAC-12, the power-five conference of the west coast that includes schools like UCLA, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, Berkeley, USC, Colorado and Utah. The PAC-12 has historically been one of the better conferences in the US, arguably up there with the SEC and Big 10, but the conference eventually collapsed due to inadequate TV revenue as the television networks focused on other conferences, such as the SEC and Big 10. 

This is all to say that the 2023 college football season is the end of an era (or two eras). And even with all of the confusion and hype surrounding what is to come in the future, this season did not lack controversy, excitement, and chaos. Speaking of controversy, you may be asking, “Why is Florida State not in the four team playoff if they had a better record than both Texas and Alabama?” Well, I’m here to explain why the committee got the rankings right. 

First, let’s look at the criteria used by the committee to make these rankings. They have said that the playoff is supposed to include the best teams, not the most deserving teams. 

According to the committee, “For purposes of any four-team playoff, the process will inevitably need to select the four best teams from among several with legitimate claims to participate.” The criteria they prioritize is head-to-head competition (if such games occurred), conference championships won, strength of schedule, top 25 wins, and comparative outcomes of common opponents. 

Most people who believe that FSU should’ve been in the playoff think this because the Seminoles were undefeated conference champions, but Texas and Alabama were one-loss conference champs. This is a fair point, but the reason this is fair is because Texas and Alabama faced much harder schedules than Florida State did.

Alabama is in the SEC, the best conference in football, which has won 14 national championships since 2000, while the ACC, which features FSU, has only won four. Even the losing teams in the SEC are skilled programs because they are required to face harder competition each year, so their records don’t always show how good they actually are. To explain the strength of schedule topic easily, an example is necessary.

If a team from a weak conference, let’s just say Yale, was to go undefeated and become Ivy League champions, they wouldn’t make the Playoff over the one-loss SEC champ — that would be ridiculous, because their schedule is far weaker. And I know the ACC isn’t quite as weak as the Ivy League is in football, but they still are nowhere near as competitive as the SEC and the committee is correct to have a bias towards them. 

At any rate, the proof is in the score of the FSU-Georgia game, played on December 30, in which Georgia rolled over FSU by a score of 63-3, the largest margin of victory in a bowl game ever. As Miles Solomon, Junior at MHS, says, “Florida State suffered the worst loss in their entire history, which cements the facts that they should not have made the playoff.” 

With the end of the 4-team college football playoff coming soon, the only question we have to ask is what’s next? The SEC has been dominant since the BCS era, but now other teams will have the opportunity to face SEC teams in the 12-team bracket, and who knows what this will result in?

Will we have a non-power five national champion? Will we have a 2-loss national champion? Who knows? The only thing I’m looking forward to is some good old fashioned football.

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