CHARLOTTE, NC – You play the game to win.

At least that’s what Herm Edwards has been telling us for the past 2 decades in one of the most frequently replayed video clips on social media.

It sounds good in theory. But in practice, at least as it pertains to the College Football Playoff committee, it’s little more than a catchy slogan.

Boo Corrigan and his fellow selectors made that abundantly clear Sunday when they left Florida State out of their 4-team College Football Playoff bracket. The Seminoles become the first undefeated Power 5 conference champion in the 10-year history of the Playoff to be denied a shot at the national championship.

The fact that they were bumped out of their top-4 ranking by a team with 1 loss makes their omission all the more egregious.

Spare me the narratives about quarterback injuries, “good” losses and the possibility that a Playoff without an SEC team would be the end of the world as we know it.

No matter how you spin it, FSU got hosed.

You play the game to win?

The Seminoles did that every time they played this season. And what did it get them? Passed over for an Alabama team that didn’t.

You can’t say we didn’t see it coming.

The committee, egged on by the talking heads at the SEC’s publicity arm ESPN, has been looking for an excuse to knock FSU out of the top 4 for weeks now. If the season-ending injury to star quarterback Jordan Travis 2 weeks ago didn’t provide it, Alabama’s takedown of 2-time defending national champion Georgia for its conference title on Saturday finally did.

It became painfully obvious from the moment the Crimson Tide finished off the Bulldogs that the wheels had been set in motion to drop the Seminoles no matter what they did later that night in its ACC Championship Game against Louisville.

Corrigan, the NC State athletic director who served as the chairman of this year’s Playoff selection committee justified the snub by saying that “Florida State is a different team than they were through the 1st 11 weeks.”

While that is factually true, since its offensive production has dropped off considerably without Travis, it’s little more than an excuse.

Leaning heavily on an elite defense that dominated Louisville’s top-20 national attack on Saturday, the Seminoles still managed to win their 2 games without Travis. By wider margins than Alabama won either of its final 2 games, by the way.

Is FSU 1 of the best 4 teams in college football? Are the Seminoles 1 of the 4 teams most deserving of a shot at the national championship?

They’re both subjective questions that have no quantitative answer. And they’ll both be rendered moot next year when the Playoff expands to 12 teams.

But none of that really matters today. What should matter is that regardless of the extenuating circumstances and other outside noise, Mike Norvell and his team did everything they were asked to do.
Beat LSU, a top-tier SEC opponent with a soon-to-be Heisman Trophy quarterback?


Win at Death Valley, something only 1 other visiting team has done in the past 7 years?


Overcome the adversity of losing a quarterback and continue winning, not once but twice?


Go 13-0 and win their conference title?

Check and checkmate.

“The consequences of giving in to a narrative of the moment are destructive, far-reaching and permanent. Not just for Florida State, but college football as a whole,” FSU athletic director Michael Alford said in a seething statement Sunday. “The argument of whether a team is the ‘most deserving OR best’ is a false equivalence.

“It renders the season up to yesterday irrelevant and significantly damages the legitimacy of the College Football Playoff. The 2023 Florida State Seminoles are the epitome of a total team. To eliminate them from a chance to compete for a national championship is an unwarranted injustice that shows complete disregard and disrespect for their performance and accomplishments. It is unforgivable.”

Alford went on to say that the committee failed college football Sunday.

It did.

And the list of victims goes beyond Norvell, his players and Seminoles fans.

It should not come as a coincidence that all 4 of this year’s Playoff participants will be members of either the SEC or Big Ten next year. The power and influence those 2 leagues yield, aided and abetted by their primary media partner, is undeniable.

There’s absolutely no chance an undefeated SEC or Big Ten team would have been left out of the Playoff field, even if their school’s drum major was playing quarterback.

The ACC, by contrast, continues to become more and more of an afterthought. Sunday’s snub will only add to FSU’s frustration with the league and will give its administrators and followers even more fuel in their effort to find a way out.

Sooner than later.

Because if playing to win the game isn’t enough, what’s the point in playing?