Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

How Alabama beat the odds, and Florida State, to the get to the Rose Bowl

CW / Riley Thompson
Alabama wide receiver Isaiah Bond (#17) attempts to stiff arm a Georgia defender during the SEC Championship.

In a dramatic twist, Alabama football secured a spot in the College Football Playoff, moving from No. 8 to No. 4 after triumphing over the previously top-ranked Georgia in the SEC championship.  

This “chaos scenario” presented a challenging predicament for the College Football Playoff committee. 

It had to decide whether to keep Florida State in the top four, excluding Alabama or the previously No. 7 Texas, or include both Alabama and Texas in the top four while excluding Florida State.  

Despite Florida State’s 13-0 record, including a significant win against LSU in Week 1, which catapulted the team to fourth place, the committee ultimately concluded that the Seminoles didn’t make the cut to be a top four team. 

Following Florida State’s fifth-place ranking, there was widespread outrage from players, coaches and fans. ESPN analyst Booger McFarland dubbed it a “travesty to the sport.” While some argued against a one-loss team securing a playoff spot over an undefeated team, Alabama head coach Nick Saban asserted that the team had earned its spot in the Rose Bowl.  

“Well, we won 10 of 11 games in a row and beat the No. 1 team in the country,” Saban said in a teleconference post-selection show. “We’re not the same team that we were when we played Texas earlier in the season.” 

Although the term “most deserving” has been tossed around by many college football fan bases, the playoff committee has clarified that the factor is not something it considers.  

“It is best,” College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock stated in an interview. “‘Most deserving’ is something outside the committee’s lexicon. They are to rank the best teams in order, and that’s what they do. Just keep that word in mind, ‘best teams.’” 

Despite Florida State looking like it had a spot in the playoff already locked up on the surface, several factors led the committee to the decision that the Seminoles didn’t make the cut for the 2023 playoff.  

A significant obstacle for Florida State’s playoff hopes was the absence of quarterback Jordan Travis, who suffered a season-ending leg injury. The playoff committee, recognizing the team’s dependence on Travis, voted Alabama fourth and Florida State fifth, acknowledging the altered dynamics without him. 

“Florida State is a different team than it was the first 11 weeks,” committee Chair Boo Corrigan said during Sunday’s selection show. “As you look at who they are as a team right now without Jordan Travis, without the offensive dynamic he brings, they are a different team, and the committee voted Alabama four and Florida State five.” 

In Florida State’s game against the Florida Gators, second-string quarterback Tate Rodemaker suffered a concussion, leaving the Seminoles with third-stringer Brock Glenn for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.  

Despite a 10-point victory over Louisville, questions arose about the committee’s willingness to consider sending Florida State to the playoff on the back of its third-string quarterback, especially considering Alabama‘s recent win against defending two-time national champion Georgia. 

But even so, the committee’s protocol states that one of the five principles it considers is “factors such as unavailability of key players and coaches that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.” 

The selection committee’s decision to favor Alabama over Florida State can also be attributed, in part, to the more challenging schedule Alabama faced throughout the season, which placed fifth in the strength-of-schedule rankings. 

Alabama squared off against five ranked teams and secured victories against three by at least two scores. In contrast, Florida State contended with the 55th hardest schedule, facing only three ranked opponents — No. 13 LSU, No. 22 Clemson, and Louisville — and achieving a decisive victory against only LSU. 

Despite these downfalls, going into Sunday’s selection show, there was no consensus on who the public thought would make it into the playoff. Many thought that not putting Florida State into the playoff would go against the whole point of the regular season.  

“What is the point of playing games?” Florida State head coach Mike Norvell asked. “Do you tell players it is okay to quit if someone goes down? I don’t understand how we are supposed to think this is an acceptable way to evaluate a team.” 

As the dust settles on the controversial decisions made by the playoff committee, the 2023 playoff marks the end of an era as the last four-team playoff.  

The chaos and debates surrounding the exclusion of an undefeated Florida State team in favor of a one-loss Alabama team highlight the complexities of the current college football playoff system. With the expansion of the playoff format, college football looks toward a less controversial future where 12 teams can compete for a national title. 

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