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Sunday, February 25, 2024
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After Unbeaten FSU’s Snub, Financial and Legal Fallout

  • FSU, ACC to take sizable revenue hit despite Seminoles' undefeated season.
  • Florida politicians look to make more formal response to committee selections.
Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK

The four-team version of the College Football Playoff debuted in 2014, in part as a response to perennial chaos within the sport and widespread division over how to determine a national champion. 

Nearly a decade later, that chaos has not only remained but reached a new and unprecedented level this weekend.

On Sunday, the CFP’s selection committee chose a quartet of Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Alabama, leaving out a 13-0 Florida State team that won the ACC title and now becomes the first undefeated Power 5 conference champion to be excluded.

“I am disgusted and infuriated with the committee’s decision to have what was earned on the field taken away because a small group of people decided they knew better than the results of the games,” said FSU head coach Mike Norvell. “What is the point of playing games? … What is the motivation to schedule challenging non-conference games? 

“What happened goes against everything that is true and right in college football.”

Beyond the chorus of recriminations coming from Norvell and other FSU administrators, sources suggested to Front Office Sports that new Florida State legislation may emerge from the situation, and state Sen. Corey Simon called for a lawsuit.

Financial Implications

Next season the CFP will begin a 12-team format that if used this year would have avoided the Florida State situation. But that is little solace to the Seminoles and the ACC given the revenue already lost due to the CFP decision.

A potential $6 million ACC payout, had the Seminoles reached the CFP, now becomes $4 million as FSU instead plays No. 6 Georgia in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30. Norvell, meanwhile, will see a minimum $500,000 bonus (which could have risen to $950,000 with a CFP title) reduced to $200,000. Not making the CFP could also have long-term impacts on recruiting and business operations surrounding the Seminoles’ football program. That on top of losing any chance at the recruiting and business-operation impact of a national championship. 

Florida State already has been frustrated with the current state of revenue sharing within the ACC, and in college sports as a whole, and the school has looked to private equity as a potential aid.

Meanwhile, the SEC retained its run of having at least one team in each of the 10 iterations of the CFP.

“That’s not the real world of college football,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said on ESPN’s College GameDay on the prospect of leaving out a team from his conference. “Let’s go back to ‘Sesame Street’ to make it real basic, but because one of these things is not like the other, and that is the Southeastern Conference.”

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