Even with an Alabama loss, the CFP committee was vindicated by legendary Rose Bowl

FSU's loss in the Orange Bowl didn't prove that the Seminoles didn't belong in the CFP, but Alabama's loss to Michigan didn't prove that the Noles were snubbed either.
Michigan Wolverines defensive back Quinten Johnson (28) forces a fumble by Jalen Milroe (4)
Michigan Wolverines defensive back Quinten Johnson (28) forces a fumble by Jalen Milroe (4) / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday night when Georgia sprinted out to a 42-3 first-half lead and closed out a 63-3 win over Florida State, you didn’t have to look long to find college football fans eager to use the loss as justification for FSU getting left out of the College Football Playoff. 

The Alabama Crimson Tide got the final spot after beating Georgia in the SEC championship, so No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 5 FSU in the Orange Bowl was billed as a chance for the Noles to prove their worth. 

In reality, FSU suffered from 23 opt-outs and was a shell of the team that went 12-0 in the regular season and beat Louisville in the ACC Championship game. No result in the Orange Bowl would have made any meaningful statement about the 2023 Seminoles, least of all a blowout loss. 

So, FSU fans, ACC supporters, and those who were overly offended by the notion that an undefeated team could be left out of the playoff turned to Michigan as their only hope of proving they belonged.

Then, on Monday, J.J. McCarthy led No. 1 Michigan on a late touchdown drive in the Rose Bowl and Blake Corum closed out No. 4 Alabama in overtime. Again, FSU fans and SEC haters joined arms, this time to collectively dismiss Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide as a worthy participant in the playoff. 

In reality, neither result proves anything. FSU’s loss meant nothing, but Alabama’s overtime loss to the No. 1 team in the country is far from damning evidence of an SEC conspiracy. In fact, that game, one of the best we’ve seen in the College Football Playoff, served as vindication for Boo Corrigan and the committee. 

There really isn't any way to prove, after the fact, with any certainty whether the committee got it right or wrong, but the decision did leave us with a fantastically competitive football game on college football’s biggest stage, and that’s good enough for me. 

If we’d like to continue to evaluate the decision to leave FSU out of the playoff using meaningless bowl game results and hindsight, we can interrogate the Noles’ best wins. 

Louisville lost to USC with Miller Moss, not Caleb Williams at quarterback, and LSU needed last-minute heroics to beat 7-5 Wisconsin, though with Garrett Nussmeier, not Jayden Daniels leading the team. 

Again, none of that matters. We can get into the weeds with bowl game results all we want, but we'll never know what would have happened if FSU had a shot. I just can't imagine it would have been a better game than what we witnessed on New Year's day in Pasadena.

The decision was made using the information the committee had at the time including Tate Rodemaker’s 12/25 134-yard performance against Florida and Brock Glenn’s 8/21 55-yard performance. 

At that same time, Alabama and Jalen Milroe were coming off a win over the committee’s No. 1 team in the country. The argument made by the people who supported the committee’s decision was largely that Bama was clearly one of the best four teams in the country. 

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit was one of the loudest voices in favor of leaving FSU out. Before the regular season was over, Herbstreit went on Barstool Sport’s Pardon My Take and referenced past lopsided results in playoff games as reason enough to ignore who is “deserving” of a spot in favor of who is “best.” 

You can feel bad for the players on the FSU roster and for Mike Norvell, and I do too, but you can’t deny that the Rose Bowl delivered. It was just the third overtime game in CFP history and gave us an indelible moment forever stitched into the fabric of Rose Bowl history from a player who, when many others dart for the NFL or transfer portal, decided to stay. 

As a fan of watching entertaining football games, that’s what is most important to me. Sure, it cost us an entertaining Orange Bowl, suffering through weeks of unceasing complaints from FSU fans, and an absurd lawsuit, but that was a price worth paying for a legendary game between two of the most historic programs in college football. So, I’ll be the first to say it, thank you College Football Playoff Committee, thank you Alabama, thank you Michigan, thank you college football.

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