Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama were selected to the College Football Playoff on Sunday, making Florida State the first undefeated Power Five conference champion to be left out of the four-team field.
The final season of the four-team playoffs before expanding to 12 teams next year presented the CFP selection committee with the most difficult decision in the history of the current postseason system.
The Seminoles (13-0) lost star quarterback Jordan Travis to a season-ending injury two weeks ago, but continued to win with a backup and then a third-string quarterback to win the ACC Championship. But the committee is tasked with judging teams based on how they approach the playoffs and decided FSU isn’t among the top four in the country without Travis.
That has sparked unprecedented controversy, taking the committee to Alabama, which upset Georgia to win the Southeastern Conference championship, and to Big 12 champion Texas, which beat the Crimson Tide on the road in September.
“The consequences of giving in to a narrative of the moment are destructive, far-reaching and lasting. Not just for the state of Florida, but for college football as a whole,” FSU athletic director Michael Alford said in a statement. “The argument about whether a team is the ‘most deserving OR best’ is a false equivalence. It makes the season irrelevant until yesterday and significantly damages the legitimacy of the College Football Playoff. The committee failed college football today.”
The SEC had never missed the playoffs. Alabama, making its eighth appearance, kept that streak alive.
Texas would have been just the second Power Five team to miss just one loss. Instead, the Longhorns will make their first CFP appearance in their final season as a member of the Big 12. Texas is moving to the SEC next year.
Big Ten champion Michigan is making its third straight CFP appearance and is still hoping for its first playoff win.
Washington is participating in the CFP for the second time, breaking the Pac-12’s playoff drought of six years, one year before they leave the conference for the Big Ten.
Florida State, ranked No. 4 in the previous CFP rankings, appeared to be on its way to a second playoff appearance in mid-November when the trajectory of their season changed drastically. Travis suffered a serious injury in the first quarter against North Alabama and was sidelined for the year.
“Their exclusion calls into question the selection process and the committee’s adherence to its own policies, including the importance of being an undefeated Power Five Conference champion,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement Sunday. “It breaks my heart for FSU’s talented student-athletes and coaches and their passionate and loyal fans. Florida State deserves better. College football deserves better.”
The Seminoles beat rival Florida last week with backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker. Then Rodemaker missed the ACC championship against Louisville with a concussion. Florida State remained undefeated with a strong defensive performance, but only scored one touchdown.