I expect Clemson Football to be ranked in the 20s again when the College Football Playoff committee releases their full Top 25 ranking today, but the Top has been released, and the results are somewhat jarring.
The Florida State Seminoles, who went undefeated at 13-0 and won the ACC Championship, were left out of the playoff. It is the first time an undefeated Power Conference champion has been left out.
It was the right thing to do.
I do not say that because I am a Clemson fan. I posted this morning on X that I had sympathy for the Seminoles’ fans. This stinks for them.
It was the right thing to do because they weren’t one of the best four teams.
Had Jordan Travis been healthy, do think this committee would have put them in. I have always thought this committee prefers to do the magnanimous thing, especially if they can justify it. Even if the eye test said FSU was the fifth-best team, they would have cited the undefeated record and conference championship.
The committee chairperson, no matter who it was, would say “They’re an undefeated Power team who won their conference. They are obviously one of the best four teams”.
Why is this different? Because the team that was responsible for the majority of that success won’t play in the playoffs, and Clemson Football is part of the precedent set over the years that set this situation up.
Travis was very good this season, and after he got hurt, the Seminoles took a small step back. It wasn’t a large step. If this was 2024 and there was a 12-team playoff, they would definitely be in.
I said the same thing about Georgia to someone this morning: they are a very good team, just not Top 4 good. FSU with Travis was Top 4 good. FSU without him was just shy.
2017 Clemson is a good example to cite. When the Tigers lost to Syracuse, they pointed out that they believed it was due to losing starting quarterback Kelly Bryant, who started the game injured and then was knocked out during regulation.
In other words, the committee said the team that lost wasn’t the same team that won the rest of their games and dominated a ranked Miami team in the ACCCG.
2017 Clemson Football wasn’t the same team in their lone loss against Syracuse because there was a different quarterback
Today, they said the team responsible for most of Florida State’s resume wasn’t the team that was going to be available to play in the playoff. In 2017, this logic was used to justify their placement of Clemson in the No. 1 spot. This year it is the logic why FSU is not included.
2014 Ohio State is another precedent. Late in the season, they lost the quarterback who was responsible for most of their resume. The committee had to figure out quickly if there was a major difference with JT Barrett unavailable to play in the very first playoff ever.
They saw the Buckeyes play wonderfully in the Big Ten championship game, absolutely smoking Wisconsin.
Florida State didn’t give this version of the committee the same reassurance that the team that would play in the playoffs would be just as good as the team that played most of the season for the Seminoles.
If you are upset because you think FSU ‘deserved’ to get in, I agree with you. I think placement in the playoffs should be based on accomplishing something. Next year, we start to see conference champions get in automatically if they rank high enough, which is a step forward and one of the reasons I prefer the 12-team system over the current 4-team system.
This year, the committee is placing the four best teams. FSU with Jordan Travis was one of the four best teams. FSU without him is not.