Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell takes a second to soak in the moment. The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Louisville Cardinals 16-6 to claim the ACC Championship title in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. Credit: Tallahassee Democrat

When the College Football Playoff hosts its two semifinals games on New Year’s Day, it will do so without Florida State.

Despite the Seminoles finishing the 2023 season as an undefeated ACC champion, they ranked fifth in the final playoff poll, trailing No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Washington, No. 3 Texas and No. 4 Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s selection over Florida State was particularly controversial, as Alabama finished the season with one loss, which came against Texas.

So why were the Seminoles left out?

According to CFP chairman Boo Corrigan, the biggest reason was the absence star quarterback Jordan Travis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during a win over North Alabama on Nov. 18. While the Seminoles went on to beat rival Florida and No. 14 Louisville in the ACC Championship Game without Travis in the lineup, Florida State appeared less dynamic offensively, which the committee ultimately punished the program for.

“Florida State is a different team than they were through the first 11 weeks,” Corrigan said during the ESPN broadcast of the announcement. “An incredible season, but as you look at who they are as a team right now, without Jordan Travis, without the offensive dynamic that he brings to it, they are a different team.”

Suffice to say, Florida State being excluded from the playoff didn’t sit well with many, including ACC commissioner Jim Phillips.

“It’s unfathomable that Florida State, an undefeated Power Five conference champion, was left out of the College Football Playoff,” Phillips said in a statement posted to the ACC’s official X (formerly Twitter) account. “Their exclusion calls into question the selection process and whether the Committee’s own guidelines were followed, including the significant importance of being an undefeated Power Five conference champion. My heart breaks for the talented FSU student-athletes and coaches and their passionate and loyal fans. Florida State deserved better. College football deserved better.”

No. 1 Michigan will face No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl, while No. 2 Washington will face No. 3 Texas in the Sugar Bowl, with the winner’s meeting in College Football Playoff championship in Houston on Jan. 8.

[ACC on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.