Tomahawk Chopped – What Happened to Florida State?

The Atlantic Coast Conference Champion 13-0 Florida State Seminoles were just left out of the four-team College Football Playoffs in favor of Big 12 Champion Texas (12-1) and SEC champion Alabama (also 12-1).

Let that sink in for just a moment.

All three teams are conference champions.  Alabama lost 34-24 to Texas early in the season.  Texas’ lone loss came at the hands of 10-2 Oklahoma.

So, which team did 13-0 Florida State lose to? (Answer:  None)

The College Football Playoff Committee selected 13-0 Michigan (Big Ten Champions) as the #1 seed.   Pac-12 Champion and unbeaten Washington (13-0) was tabbed as the #2 seed.  Those two choices were not surprising (even though Michigan’s schedule was softer than a Stay-Puft Marshmallow).

That left two playoff slots available.  Two remaining 13-0 teams (also conference champions) were available.  Florida State (the ACC champs) and Liberty University (winner of Conference USA) were waving their hands to the committee.

Sorry, Liberty.  Despite winning every game on your schedule, your conference opponents were deemed too inferior when compared to those of Big Ten champion, Michigan (sarcasm intended).

Speaking of schedules, let’s review this trio of 13-0 teams.

The CFP’s top-ranked Michigan Wolverines beat cream puffs like East Carolina (2-10), Nebraska (5-7), Minnesota (5-7), Indiana (3-9), Michigan State (4-8), and Purdue (4-8).  That’s half of Michigan’s schedule.

The Wolverines played only three ranked opponents.  They beat then #10 Penn State 24-15 and later beat #2-ranked Ohio State 30-24.  On Saturday, Michigan beat the worst 10-win team in modern history, the #16-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, by a 26-0 score.

The #2 ranked Washington Huskies posted wins over Tulsa (4-8), Michigan State (4-8), Arizona State (3-9), and Stanford (3-9).  The other eight teams on the Huskies’ schedule had winning records.

Washington handed Oregon its only two losses!  In my book, that should have elevated Washington into the top spot in the college playoffs – not Michigan.

Now, let’s examine 13-0 Florida State as compared to Michigan and Washington.

The Seminoles started off the season quickly by downing then-#5 LSU 45-24.  After that, FSU beat sub-500 teams such as Southern Miss (3-9), Wake Forest (4-8), Pittsburgh (3-9), FCS opponent Northern Alabama (3-8) and the Florida Gators (5-7).   In addition to 9-3 LSU, Florida State defeated two other ranked teams.  The Noles beat #16 Duke (38-20) and then #10 Louisville in the ACC Championship game.

Of those three unbeaten teams, my eyeball test gives the nod to Washington for playing the toughest hombres.  Florida State and Michigan should be toss-ups for the second and third spots.

Florida State wasn’t awarded the third spot, either.  That went to Big 12 champion and 12-1 Texas.

The Longhorns played a dandy schedule this season.  They beat big, bad Alabama early in the year and just won the Big 12 title in a cakewalk over Oklahoma State.  Bravo, Bevo!

Certainly Florida State captured the #4 spot, right?

Nope, that went to SEC champion Alabama (12-1).  Bama took down the longtime unbeaten (29 straight games) Godzilla-named-Georgia 27-24 on Saturday to demand a spot in the field.

Since Bama had already lost to Texas, the CFP committee handed the Crimson Tide the fourth and final spot.

The undefeated 13-0 Florida State Seminoles were left out in favor of a couple of one-loss teams.  How is that even possible?  Time to check the rule book.

What were the College Football Playoff rules for selecting the top four teams?

This comes straight from the CFP website:


  • Rank the top 25 teams and assign the top four to semifinal sites.
  • Assign teams to New Year’s Six bowls.
  • Create competitive matchups.
  • Attempt to avoid rematches of regular-season games and repeat appearances in specific bowls.
  • Consider geography.

That’s it?  There were no guidelines about whether unbeaten teams should be ranked ahead of once-beaten teams.  The CFP Committee had free reign to make it up as they went along.

And they certainly did!

On November 28, 2023, the CFP Committee established the following rankings:

  1. Georgia
  2. Michigan
  3. Washington
  4. Florida State
  5. Oregon
  6. Ohio State
  7. Texas
  8. Alabama

On Sunday, December 3, 2023, the CFP Committee scrambled the rankings as follows:

Georgia went down five spots from #1 to #6 (after losing by just 3-points to Alabama)

Michigan advanced to #1 (by beating the worst 10-win team in modern history)

Washington moved up a spot to #2 (after beating a legit Oregon team)

Florida State was demoted to #5 (despite winning its game and going 13-0)

Oregon dropped to #8 (losing to Washington for the second time)

Ohio State dropped one spot to #7 (didn’t play last weekend)

Texas jumped four spots to #3 (after beating an overrated Oklahoma State)

Alabama zoomed four spots to #4 (after beating the 2-time defending champs from Georgia)

Dawg gone!  The CFP left out 12-1 Georgia, too! 

When you look at what just happened, Georgia is aligned with Florida State on the “Now, wait just a minute” claims.

Did Georgia really look that bad against Alabama?  No, they didn’t.

Texas looked impressive but not worthy of a four spot jump in one week.  The real reason for Texas being pushed up four spots was to allow TV ratings giant Alabama to barge its way into the playoff Final Four.

That’s the truth, Florida State fans.

You were dumped by the Playoff Committee in order to get higher national television ratings for media partner ESPN.   Alabama is college football’s equivalent of the Dallas Cowboys.  Some people love them, and many others hate them.  Seminole fans know that Alabama will draw millions more viewers to a semifinal game than Florida State would.

Review the term, “Create competitive match-ups” once more.  The College Football Playoff committee had no specific guidelines such as taking teams “based on the fewest losses” in order to fulfill their vague mandate.

There were five major conference champions for four slots.  The bottom line is that Florida State and the ACC just got slapped by the College Football Playoff Committee.

With friends like CFP Committee chairman Boo Corrigan, who needs enemies? 

There are 14 people assigned to the group making this decision.

According to the College Football Playoff website, they are “A dedicated group of high-integrity football experts, with experience as coaches, student-athletes, college administrators and journalists, along with sitting athletics directors, comprise the selection committee.

Of special note to Florida State fans, the chairman of this year’s selection committee is a man named Boo Corrigan.  He is the current Director of Athletics for another ACC member, North Carolina State.  (Note – NC State and Florida State were not scheduled to play a football game against each other in 2023).

Let that sink in.  Florida State’s own conference buddy from NC State, Boo Corrigan, delivered the bad news and then twisted the knife further by making these comments during Sunday’s selection show on ESPN:

“Florida State is a different team than it was the first 11 weeks.  As you look at who they are as a team right now without (quarterback) Jordan Travis, without the offensive dynamic he brings, they are a different team and the committee voted Alabama four and Florida State five.”

Hey, Boo!  I’m pretty sure that you know that there are well over 100 football players on every FBS team.  Your committee just killed the dream for EVERY player of that unbeaten ACC Champion 13-0 Florida State squad.  How can you tell them they’re not worthy just because the team’s starting quarterback (one player) is unable to participate in a national semifinal game?

That’s really cold – especially coming from a fellow ACC member.  What are friends for?  Apparently, not very much! 

Congratulations, Florida State!  You’re going to a consolation bowl game to play against…Georgia?

If it wasn’t bad enough to be ranked #5 and left out of the championship semifinals, the benevolent CFP Committee sent FSU to the Orange Bowl in Miami to play another ticked-off team, the 12-1 Georgia Bulldogs.

After a three point loss to Alabama, the CFP Committee dropped Georgia from #1 all the way to #6.  Georgia fans are also saying, “If you wanted the best four teams in the country, how can you leave us out?”   That’s because the committee can make it up as they go!

This year’s Orange Bowl should be renamed the “Anger Management” Bowl.  These two teams have a right to be unhappy about being scheduled into this match-up.

What should fans of ACC Champion and unbeaten 13-0 Florida State do?

The true villain here (like in so many aspects of sports) is money and greed.  The CFP Committee has chosen the four winners of this beauty contest.  They have left town and face no recourse for their decisions.

At least for the month of December, that is!

On January 1, 2024, unhappy FSU and like-minded college football fans can directly punish ESPN where it counts the most – in the ratings!   If you haven’t already cut the cable cord, you might consider doing so prior to January 1st.   Regardless…

DON’T WATCH either of the two national semifinals games on January 1 or the national championship on January 8!   

Here’s a happier thought, Seminole Nation.

Picture millions and millions of like-minded fans staying away from ESPN during the network’s three most lucrative college football telecasts of the season.  The smile on our collective faces will become even broader knowing that the network might be forced to make significant financial refunds (or provide bonus ads) to advertisers for failing to deliver its projected television audience.

I’m right with you, Seminoles!  Let’s give ESPN our own version of the “Tomahawk Chop” on January 1 and 8, 2024!