I Stand With FSU in Demanding Transparency from the CFP Committee

December 6, 2023

Tallahassee Democrat
Sen. Rick Scott
December 5, 2023

On Sunday, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee made the unprecedented decision to drop the 13-0 Florida State University Seminoles from its previous 4th-place ranking, and thereby exclude the team from the upcoming playoffs altogether.

This decision, which occurred mere hours after FSU won the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game, has rightly raised questions among millions of Americans about the integrity of the process employed by this 13-member body. It has also resulted in new and justified scrutiny of this committee, which consists of just five individuals with relevant experience in coaching or playing football at the collegiate level or higher.

Earlier this week, I wrote to the CFP Selection Committee Chairman, Boo Corrigan, demanding answers on how this decision was made, and what factors may have influenced the outcome of excluding FSU.

As I wrote in my letter, there are hopes, dreams and billions of dollars in economic activity that hinge on the decisions made by the 13-member group Mr. Corrigan leads. Given the unprecedented nature of their recent decision, an unprecedented commitment to transparency is required.

Until we have answers, the CFP will continue to suffer from a crisis of confidence. That’s bad for college football, bad for our universities and bad for the millions of fans that love this sport.

Some people have asked why a U.S. Senator is getting involved in this issue and this is what it boils down to: I won’t stand around and say nothing while people in my state get screwed.

I’m not suggesting some Watergate-style congressional investigation, but I do believe that when you see a wrong, you should call it out – especially when that wrong is denying at least $2 million that should be going to a Florida university. And it’s important to remember that the action taken by the CFP Selection Committee to snub the Seminoles is not just a FSU issue.

The perception created by the committee in excluding FSU is that now any Power Five team can go undefeated and win its conference, only to be shut out of playoff contention in favor of two one-loss teams.  In other words, the committee can arbitrarily determine that winning is less important than losing to the “right” teams. That should infuriate every fan, coach and player in the country. It’s not right.

Unfortunately, we know the committee will not reverse its decision and rightly reward FSU for its hard-fought, undefeated season, so maximum transparency is needed to explain why this happened.

Until we have transparency, the justified perception of an unfair system will prevail: that the committee has wrongly disregarded the known strengths of an undefeated team over the speculated impact of losing a single player. That’s another diversion from the precedent set by the committee in previous years.

Remember, in 2014, the committee did not punish Ohio State University’s team for the loss of quarterback J.T. Barrett to a season-ending injury suffered during its regular season finale against the University of Michigan. Like FSU, Ohio State was forced to rely on its third string quarterback, Cardale Jones, to win its conference championship.

Unlike FSU, which remains undefeated, the one-loss 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes were selected as the 4th ranked team. Ultimately, Ohio State won the CFP Final, earning them a National Championship. The Seminoles may have repeated this incredible feat with their second string quarterback, Tate Rodemaker, but the committee’s decision has now made that impossible.

In my letter to Chairman Corrigan, I requested that the committee immediately respond to a number of questions to ensure that there was full transparency behind its decision to remove FSU from playoff contention.

If the committee believes it made the right choice, then responding to my letter and being very transparent about why this happened should be the easiest thing in the world for them to do. We need to know how each member of the committee voted; what private communications, if any, they had with each other, or any individuals affiliated with ESPN or the Southeastern Conference (SEC); and whether any members recused themselves from this process. It would also be informative to understand the committee’s ethical and conflict of interest standards.

The CFP system was created to produce a more fair and just method for selecting the best teams in college football. Unfortunately, the decision it made this week to axe FSU from the playoffs has called into question the integrity of its process. There is a lot of speculation that this decision was made based on some financial calculation. It’s hard to know if that’s true until we see the documents I’ve requested from the CFP. I truly hope that is not the case.

Next year we will have a 12-team playoff but that alone won’t solve this problem. We need answers and college football fans, especially the FSU faithful, should not stand down until this committee gives an appropriate response to this wildly concerning decision.

Republican Rick Scott is a former governor of Florida and now represents the state in the U.S. Senate.