In a vacuum, I’d bang the drum for Alabama to make any Playoff field with its current 2023 résumé. The Tide did the unthinkable. It went from looking like a doormat in mid-September to running the table with an SEC Championship win against No. 1 Georgia en route to the Playoff.

I argued that if Alabama making the Playoff meant Texas being left out, beating Georgia was the 1 exception to the 99.9% of the time in which a head-to-head advantage should tip the scales.

Alabama found out that is indeed in the Playoff, but man, I can’t help but be frustrated that it meant 13-0 FSU was left out.

Yes, I know. It’s a different team without Jordan Travis. FSU’s second- and third-string quarterbacks didn’t look like the second comings of Cardale Jones, and that’s why it was held out of the field. Never mind the fact that it went away from home and beat Florida and a top-15 Louisville squad thanks to that top-10 FSU defense. A 13-0 FSU team that beat 11 Power 5 squads won’t have a chance to play for a title.

That ain’t right. And it doesn’t mean that Alabama is wrong to be in, especially with a résumé that probably would’ve been the No. 1 overall seed 4 other times in the Playoff era (2014, 2015, 2017, 2021).

Selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan said that they deliberated 6 to 8 times on FSU vs. Alabama, but he came back to the Seminoles being a “different team” without Travis. Sure. The Noles aren’t as good of a team. Fine.

Has Michigan’s offense looked as good in the last month when it was held to 31 points or less and no more than 338 total yards in each of those final 4 games (Michigan was held to 213 total yards in the Big Ten Championship)? JJ McCarthy has 1 touchdown pass in the past 5 games, and yet, there hasn’t been any discussion about that when dissecting the Wolverines’ résumé because McCarthy is still out there and they continue to win.

Here’s the truth: Corrigan said this week that the selection committee’s job is to “get the best 4 teams in the field.” The previous 9 years — wherein it’s been nothing but Power 5 teams with 0 or 1 loss, except for Cincinnati — suggests that it’s always been about the most deserving teams. This year was unprecedented in every way, which we knew could be a possibility with 8 Power 5 teams with 0 or 1 loss entering conference championship weekend.

It’s just brutal that FSU was the casualty of that.

We don’t know what Tate Rodemaker would’ve looked like with more reps with the first-teamers. Shoot, what did Jalen Milroe look like in his first few starts? Milroe had the benefit of time to turn it around and put himself in the conversation to get to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Rodemaker had 1 game. Mind you, he likely would’ve returned for a Playoff game, so judging the FSU offense for how it looked with a third-string quarterback in the rain against a top-25 defense didn’t make sense, either.

Alabama is living proof of why a team shouldn’t be judged entirely for those early hiccups with an inexperienced quarterback. Why? Because 18-22 year-old kids can get better. The selection committee didn’t give Rodemaker that opportunity. It didn’t matter that he would’ve been surrounded by that top-10 defense, along with explosive playmakers like Keon Coleman, Johnny Wilson and Jaheim Bell.

Nope. Ya failed the “eye test,” according to the selection committee.

Mind you, the same “eye test” told the selection committee that Oregon deserved to be the top-ranked 1-loss team throughout this entire process even though its best wins were against 4-loss teams. The eye test isn’t the catch-all that many make it out to be.

(Also, what did the eye test tell you about FSU’s defense? Were any eyes open during that or nah?)

I say this all not to slight Alabama or even to say that I would’ve preferred that FSU made the field instead of Nick Saban’s squad. Again, I would’ve been fine if the selection committee deemed that the head-to-head wasn’t the only metric for the Alabama-Texas debate, and it favored the Tide for having a better overall résumé.

But instead, not putting FSU in that field will add fuel to the narrative that this is all about TV ratings. I’ve always pushed back on that because usually, that’s just what fans of programs like UCF or Baylor argued when the ball didn’t bounce their way. FSU has a better gripe than any Playoff team before it.

When that FSU watch party was shown on ESPN, you saw a totally dejected group. Travis was shown putting a towel over his mouth just a few seats away from Norvell. He took to social media to share those thoughts after the final ranking was revealed.

Is he wrong? That is heartbreaking. This wasn’t the BCS. We’re 2 decades removed from split national champs. We’re in an era in which there’s never been more data to decide like, you know, settling on a 4-team Playoff.

Call it a byproduct of the conference, if you will. That probably shouldn’t have been weighed heavily for an FSU squad that faced 2 SEC teams in nonconference play and beat them both by multiple scores away from home, the second of which wasn’t with Travis.

FSU will now have every right to watch the Playoff with jaded eyes. Any fan base in that spot would. If the response is “well, should put up 50 points,” that’s pretty weak. Alabama, Texas, Michigan and Washington have all had bad offensive days without their starters. Washington had 15 points at home against Arizona State. Alabama needed a 4th-and-31 prayer to win the Iron Bowl. Michigan completed 16 passes or less in 6 of its 13 games. Texas had 10 points in the first 3 quarters against Wyoming.

The selection committee assumed a 13-0 FSU squad would be its worst version of itself. Confirmation bias worked against Travis-less FSU, and it worked for Alabama. It’s as simple as that.

Well, I suppose it’s not so simple for a Power 5 team to go 13-0 and expect to play for a national title. Alabama, even at 12-1, earned that right.

But so did FSU.