College football has a major controversy. Will Congress get involved?

Why Florida State was left out of the College Football Playoff

The Florida State Seminoles take the field to face the Louisville Cardinals during the ACC Championship
The Florida State Seminoles take the field to face the Louisville Cardinals during the ACC Championship
(Image credit: Isaiah Vazquez / Getty Images)

Florida State's football team went undefeated this season — but it's not good enough. 

The omission of the 13-0 Seminoles from the College Football Playoff has "sent shockwaves through the sport," CNN reported. It's the first time an undefeated major conference team has been snubbed in CFP's 10-year history. Why was FSU left out? Because the team's first- and second-string quarterbacks both suffered dramatic injuries in the final weeks of the season, leaving the team supposedly undermanned. "Florida State is a different team than they were through the first 11 weeks," CFP committee chair Boo Corrigan explained after the decision was revealed on Sunday.

The controversy has spilled beyond the sports pages: Politicians from the Sunshine State were enraged. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ripped the committee: "What we learned today is that you can go undefeated and win your conference championship game, but the College Football Playoff committee will ignore these results," he wrote online. Donald Trump, DeSantis' rival for the GOP presidential nomination, ripped DeSantis: "Really bad lobbying effort," he wrote on Truth Social. "Lets blame DeSanctimonious!!!" And The New York Post reported that some Florida lawmakers are considering taking the case to court. "Lawsuits should be filed tomorrow," thundered State Sen. Corey Smith, a former FSU player.

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Congress might get involved. Politico reported that Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) "is demanding answers" from Corrigan, sending a three-page letter requesting "total transparency" about the decision. "The main issue is the justified perception of an unfair system that has wrongly disregarded the known strengths of an undefeated team over the speculated impact of losing a single player," Scott wrote. 

'A beauty pageant'

The decision to omit Florida State from the playoff is proof that "results on the field don't matter," argued USA Today's Nancy Armour. The decision is more suspicious since Alabama — which has one loss but is "college football royalty" — did make it into the final four. Yes, the CFP committee had a difficult choice about which teams to include and which to leave out. "Somebody was going to be disappointed." But the most conclusive metric in sports is wins and losses. Snubbing FSU "isn't the pinnacle of competition. That's a beauty pageant."

"Florida State got screwed," Gregg Doyel acknowledged at The Indianapolis Star. But Florida State also isn't as good as Alabama or Texas, another one-loss team in the playoff. But without its starting quarterback, Jordan Travis, "Florida State is not as good as it was through 10 games, when it had a quarterback playing like a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate." The sad truth? "We don't always get what we deserve."

"It's a joke," David Hale countered at ESPN. College football's champion used to be determined by end-of-season rankings: The whole reason for a playoff is to "let a champion be crowned by the actual results on the field." The Florida State snub suggests the actual games played are pointless. "It is an absolute slap in the face to every player who has ever put on a helmet."

'Behind closed doors'

Florida State's future may not be determined on the playing field, but in a court of law. Sportico's Michael McCann suggested the university "could argue the committee failed to accurately apply its own methodology in excluding the Seminoles" from the playoff. There's money at play: Florida State lost a $2 million payday because it was left out. But any lawsuit, McCann acknowledged, is a "longshot." Any challenge to the CFP decision "wouldn't help this year's FSU team, but might prevent another situation like it."

Scott, meanwhile, seems quite serious about making the snub into a federal issue. The Hill reported he "wants all emails, text messages and other written communications" from the College Football Playoff committee to see how it arrived at its decision to pick Alabama over Florida State, which he said was made "behind closed doors." In the meantime, there is still football to be played. Michigan will take on Alabama on January 1, followed by Washington versus Texas: The winners of those games will play for the national championship on Jan. 8. 

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