Good to know these last four months didn’t matter. That results on the field don’t matter.
Those are the only conclusions that can be drawn from the College Football Playoff selection committee’s decision to pass over an unbeaten, ACC champion Florida State for one-loss Alabama on Sunday. The committee members looked into their crystal balls and decided there was no possible way a Florida State team without its starting quarterback could compete, so why bother even letting them try? Especially when there was college football royalty Alabama there for the taking and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey reminding anyone who would listen that it’s an unwritten rule one of the four playoff spots is reserved for the SEC.
There’s a problem with that. Several, in fact. But none larger than the committee going against its own precedent and snubbing a Power Five conference champion that did everything right on the field — a perfect season that included three wins over top-20 teams, as well as wins over two SEC teams outside of Tallahassee, and one of the top defenses in the country — because of what its members “feel.”
That isn’t the pinnacle of competition. That’s a beauty pageant.
“It renders the season up to yesterday irrelevant,” Florida State athletic director Michael Alford said in a statement, not even trying to contain his rage.
“Wins matter. Losses matter. Those that compete in the arena know this. Those on the committee who also competed in the sport and should have known this have forgotten it,” Alford said. “Today, they changed the way success is assessed in college football, from a tangible metric - winning on the field - to an intangible, subjective one. Evidently, predicting the future matters more."
Alford isn’t wrong. About any of it.
There is no question the committee had a difficult decision this year, its toughest in the 10 years of the playoff, after Alabama’s win over top-ranked and two-time defending champion Georgia in the SEC championship. Michigan and Washington were locks, but there were now four teams — Alabama, Florida State, Georgia and Texas — with legitimate cases for the final two spots. Somebody was going to be disappointed. Furious, even.
But it shouldn’t have been Florida State.
The committee looked at Alabama with stars in its eyes, thinking of all those other times Nick Saban has won the national title and envisioning a similar scenario next month. (That he can dispatch with the troublesome Jim Harbaugh along the way is an added bonus!)
Yes, Alabama has gotten better as the season has gone along. But let us not forget it was only a week ago the Crimson Tide needed a brain lapse by Auburn coach Hugh Freeze to win the Iron Bowl. Or that, for as dominant as Georgia has been, the one weakness Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs have had is Alabama. How much extra credit do Saban and Alabama deserve for running their record against Smart and Georgia to 5-1?
“In the eyes of the committee, Florida State is a different team without Jordan Travis,” committee chair Boo Corrigan said, referring to the Seminoles' starting quarterback, whose season ended when he broke his leg Nov. 18 against North Alabama. “One of the things we do consider is player availability.”
Except Travis was already out last week, when the committee moved Florida State back into the top four. The committee is also confident Alabama won’t have any injuries, cases of food poisoning or any other woes in the next month.
Perhaps they can tell us who will win next year’s election. Or what the winning lottery numbers for the next billion-dollar jackpot will be.
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) December 3, 2023
There is no perfect system that involves humans, who have their own biases and can be swayed by politicking. But this decision wasn’t just imperfect. It stinks and, let’s just go ahead and say it, it’s downright shady, dripping with SEC favoritism.
Florida State might not be able to help its conference opponents, but it did beat every single one of them. Scheduled and won non-conference games against LSU and Florida, too. Beat the Tigers by a wider margin than Alabama did, I might add.
And while the committee sees a lesser Florida State team without Travis, that lesser team beat Florida in Gainesville and, despite being down to its third-string quarterback against Louisville, ground out a win for the ACC title.
Again, when the playoff field is a subjective decision made by a collection of individuals, it’s always going to be open to criticism. That will still be the case next year, when the playoff expands from four teams to 12.
But the purest, most conclusive metric is results. Wins and losses. On that alone, Florida State had the better season. If the committee is going to disregard that, then what’s the point of a playoff at all? What's the point of even having a season? Just pick the team, or conference, you want and anoint them as the national champion.
Florida State deserves better than what the selection committee did. All of college football does.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on social media @nrarmour.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Florida State snub makes mockery of College Football Playoff