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March 3, 2024

Florida State Stunned by Controversial Playoff Snub as Alabama Sneaks In

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Dec 5, 2023

In a shocking and highly controversial decision, the College Football Playoff committee selected Alabama as the fourth and final team in this year’s playoff on Sunday, leaving undefeated ACC champion Florida State out of the field. The call came down to Alabama’s "full body of work" versus Florida State’s late surge, but many were left outraged over valuing name brand and reputation over pure on-field credentials.

Playoff Field Set with Familiar Faces

The full playoff bracket was revealed during ESPN’s selection show special on Sunday afternoon. Joining SEC champion Georgia and Big Ten champion Michigan were Big 12 champ TCU and SEC at-large Alabama. For the second time ever, two teams from the same conference made it in the four-team format.

The final top four rankings were:

  1. Georgia
  2. Michigan
  3. TCU
  4. Alabama

First out was ACC champ Florida State at #5 after they dismantled North Carolina 45-38 in the conference title game. Ohio State, Tennessee, Clemson and Utah rounded out the next five.

This sets up a Peach Bowl semifinal matchup between Georgia and Ohio State in Atlanta, while Alabama and Michigan will battle in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal out west. The winners meet for the national championship on January 9th in Los Angeles.

Controversy Swirls Over Alabama Selection

What has drawn so much ire is the committee choosing brand name Alabama over conference champion Florida State for the final spot. The 10-2 Crimson Tide did not even qualify for their own conference championship game after losing to 4-loss LSU on the road and then narrowly surviving at home against 6-win Auburn in their regular season finale.

Meanwhile, Florida State ripped off five straight wins to end the regular season after an early stumble against Clemson, including victories over three straight ranked opponents (Miami, Florida, Syracuse), followed by drilling UNC to capture the ACC crown with authority. At 9-3 overall and a perfect 5-0 run en route to winning their league, the ‘Noles were left feeling robbed.

Metrics Favor ‘Noles, But Eye Test Sways Committee

Crunching the key data shows Florida State with decisively better metrics than Alabama across the board:

Metric Florida State Alabama
Overall Record 10-3 10-2
Conference ACC Champ Missed title game
Last 5 Games 5-0 (all wins by 10+ pts) 3-2 (including 2 close wins over 6-6 teams)
Wins vs CFP Top 25 4 2
Strength of Schedule 20th 44th
Game Control 82% (9th) 64% (61st)

However, committee chair Boo Corrigan harped repeatedly on Alabama’s "full body of work" with their close road loss Week 2 at Texas and Heisman winning QB Bryce Young accounting for their inclusion over FSU.

Recency Bias on Full Display from Committee

Many pundits have noted the obvious recency bias at play here. Alabama lost to 3-loss LSU at home in November looking extremely beatable. Yet that game ultimately held little bearing on their case.

Meanwhile, Florida State caught fire winning their last 5 games in extremely impressive fashion, including back-to-back road wins at rivals Florida and Miami. However, their early 3-point loss at Clemson from all the way back in October – a game they outgained the Tigers by over 100 yards – is held firmly against them.

So a home loss in November is essentially excused for Bama, while a narrow defeat in October is unforgivable and defining for FSU. The inconsistent logic at play is frustrating many.

Playoff Expansion Long Overdue

Cincinnati made history last year as the first Group of 5 team to crack the exclusive four-team field. Most thought Florida State would do the same for the ACC this season after their dominant run since late October.

Yet ultimately the bias towards brand, reputation and even conference affiliation won out over pure credentials. It begs the bigger question on just how exclusive this sport wants to remain with their postseason and what the goal of the playoff even is.

A 12-team format with automatic qualification spots for the Power 5 conference champions has long been proposed and agreed to on paper. But continued haggling over media rights, revenue splits, and other fine print issues have prevented the desired expansion from launching yet.

Many are hoping this Florida State snub can be the final impetus to hasten that process to remove some of the subjectivity from the current model. An objective 12-team system would feature six automatic bids for the Power 5 champs and best Group of 5 team, plus another six at-large spots.

Outrage Ensues from Florida State Fans to Politicians

The intense backlash was swift on social media from Florida State fans and even high profile politicians. FSU quarterback Jordan Travis tweeted he was "heartbroken" and "disrespected" while head coach Mike Norvell called the decision "disgusting."

Florida governor Ron Desantis ripped the "rigged system" on Twitter, calling it a "sad day for college football" with Florida State "robbed" of their rightful spot. Even former president Donald Trump chimed in, imploring someone to "DO SOMETHING!" while citing a conspiracy against Florida schools.

Multiple FSU supporters began circulating a petition to launch an antitrust lawsuit against the CFP for "unlawful restraint of trade" practices in deliberately limiting access for competitive or financial reasons over purely on-field metrics.

What Next for Florida State and the Playoff?

While their playoff dream died Sunday afternoon, Florida State still has the luxury of falling to a prestigious New Year’s Six bowl game as the ACC champions. They await their destination between the Orange, Cotton or Sugar Bowls on New Year’s Day as a quality consolation prize.

The ‘Noles are expected to still finish ranked squarely in the top 10 after their stellar season turnaround. And with young talent like QB Jordan Travis returning next year, they have quickly rebuilt into a leading national contender under Mike Norvell.

As for the playoff itself, the pressure now intensifies to finally launch the agreed-upon 12-team model in 2024 if not sooner. Continuing to cap the field at just four invites controversy, fuels endless debate, empowers bias over facts, and enrages entire fan bases.

Expanding to 12 with objective criteria and automatic bids would restore credibility to the system and remove much of the outrage on an annual basis over these close calls. Alabama slipping into that fourth spot this Sunday only poured gasoline onto the rage fire now burning brighter than ever.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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