The Big Ten championship game was a disappointing night for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Despite a sterling defensive performance that held the Wolverines to a season-low 213 yards, the offense couldn’t find success and the result was a predictably comfortable Michigan win. Iowa finishes the year 10-3 and will face Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl on New Years Day, and they’ll do so with a little number next to their name.
The final CFP Top 25 of the season is officially in— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 3, 2023
Did your team make the list? pic.twitter.com/56LsvRGpTD
The Hawks drop one spot to #17 thanks to that strong defensive performance. Championship week isn’t one in which there is a lot of shuffling due to the limited number of teams playing, unless you’re at the top of the rankings and believe me we’ll get to that in a moment. This is Iowa’s fifth straight appearance in the CFP rankings and given that they’ll be going up against the #21 Tennessee Volunteers there is a good chance they’ll end the season in the rankings should they win or put up a good fight in Orlando.
But Iowa is a mere blip on the radar compared to what went down in the top five earlier today.
The playoff bracket is set, and sure enough there is controversies galore.
Thoughts on how it all played out? pic.twitter.com/RGTBxRmAYp— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) December 3, 2023
Michigan’s victory and Georgia’s upset in the SEC championship game launched the Wolverines to the #1 spot while Washington’s Pac-12 title puts them at #2. That’s not the surprising part, that starts with the Texas Longhorns grabbing #3 after their demolishing of Oklahoma State. The Longhorns are absolutely deserving of a playoff spot after the year they’ve had. Their win over Alabama remains perhaps the most consequential victory in all of college football this season. But their placement at third in the rankings raised some eyebrows given that they had one loss on the year and they jumped an undefeated Florida State to that #3 spot.
Something smelled fishy about all this and we soon found out why.
The Alabama Crimson Tide also jumped the Seminoles to grab the final spot in the college football playoff, despite having one loss compared with Florida State’s none. Now, there is no doubt about it that Alabama is one of the best teams playing right now and they proved it with their victory over Georgia (who dropped to #6, by the way). Nobody can argue that the Tide is rolling. But I have big problems with the reasons why the committee chose them for the final spot over the Seminoles.
Florida State finished the year a perfect 13-0. To simply say that is hard to do is to criminally understate the facts. It is insanely hard to win every single game you play and there is a reason only the best of the best can do so at the Power Five level. Hell, the Seminoles continued to win even after losing their first and second string quarterbacks. But apparently injuries now play a part in the committee’s decisions as well. When did that happen and why should it matter?
Corrigan said "in the eyes of the committee, Florida State is a different team without Jordan Travis."— Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) December 3, 2023
With all due respect, Mr. Corrigan, but that’s a load of bull. A team earns a spot in the playoff, not a single player, and a team shouldn’t be punished because of an injury when they’ve done everything else right. It sure feels like an excuse as to why Bama was chosen and not FSU, and it’s not a good one.
Florida State coach Mike Norvell certainly wasn’t having any of it.
Mike Norvell's statement on FSU not making the College Football Playoff:— ACC Network (@accnetwork) December 3, 2023
Mike Norvell's statement: (2/2) pic.twitter.com/8tZ6x766EK— ACC Network (@accnetwork) December 3, 2023
All this week the committee proclaimed that their goal was not to find the four “most deserving” teams for the playoff, but rather the four “best” teams in the country. That sounds great and all, but if that has always been true why did TCU get in last year only to get annihilated when they played one of the truly “best” teams? And TCU lost their conference championship game last year. Last year, the committee looked at the entire regular season and went with the feel-good story of the Horned Frogs. This year they moved the goal posts and said it wasn’t good enough anymore. If an undefeated Power Five champion isn’t good enough than what is?
There was no easy answer to the question presented to the committee. Someone was going to be left out in the end, but it sure looks like they took the easy way out in going with another SEC team over an undefeated Florida State. It sends the signal that the committee perceives the ACC as a lesser conference. Wins against those teams aren’t as good as those against other teams. Your conference championship isn’t as good as this other one. Florida State already had major gripes with their conference and have spent considerable time probing for a possible exit. The decision by the committee will only supercharge those efforts.
Next year most of these problems will be moot and more will be decided on the field. But this last year of the four team model leaves a sour taste that an injustice was done. Alabama is one of the best teams in college football. But they shouldn’t be in the playoff.