Advertisement

DeSantis pledges $1 million for any FSU football lawsuit after snub

Florida will “put aside $1 million and let the chips fall where they may on that” after the Seminoles aren’t one of the four College Football Playoff teams.
 
Gov. Ron DeSantis, seen here with the late FSU football legend Bobby Bowden, wants to set aside $1 million for potential Florida State litigation after the Seminoles' College Football Playoff exclusion.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, seen here with the late FSU football legend Bobby Bowden, wants to set aside $1 million for potential Florida State litigation after the Seminoles' College Football Playoff exclusion. [ TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT | AP ]
Published Dec. 5, 2023|Updated Dec. 8, 2023

Gov. Ron DeSantis is adding financial backing to the backlash from undefeated Florida State’s playoff exclusion.

DeSantis announced Tuesday that he wants to set aside $1 million for “any litigation expenses that may come as a result of this really, really poor decision by the College Football Playoff” to snub the 13-0 ACC champion Seminoles. The Republican made his remark during a news conference to present his 2024-25 budget recommendations.

DeSantis said the Seminoles “earned a spot” in the playoff but were excluded in a “very, very controversial ruling.” FSU is the first undefeated Power Five conference champ to be leapfrogged by a one-loss team in the history of the playoff and its predecessor, the Bowl Championship Series. Alabama, the 12-1 SEC champion, took the fourth and final spot, joining 13-0 Michigan, 13-0 Washington and 12-1 Texas.

Florida State won the ACC championship Saturday with a 16-6 triumph over Louisville in Charlotte, N.C.
Florida State won the ACC championship Saturday with a 16-6 triumph over Louisville in Charlotte, N.C. [ ERIK VERDUZCO | AP ]

DeSantis said an undefeated season should “really be significant, and they’re telling us that it doesn’t — that other factors matter more.” He said he wants to see the state’s traditional powers — FSU, Miami and Florida — get back to all competing for national titles again. He also wants more blue-chip recruits to stay in the state; he made that point previously while signing Florida’s landmark name, image and likeness into law in 2020.

FSU and the State University System Board of Governors are exploring their options, DeSantis said, but it’s highly unlikely anything could happen before the Jan. 1 semifinals (the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl). He doesn’t know what, if anything, would come from potential litigation.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to even do that, but we are going to put aside $1 million and let the chips fall where they may on that,” DeSantis said.

The governor has the backing of at least one other state politician. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said in a letter to selection committee chairperson Boo Corrigan that he would “have no problem cutting those checks.” Patronis asked for more transparency from the committee and said the choice affected FSU’s ability to recruit players and “compromised millions of dollars in economic output” to FSU, the community and players through name, image and likeness deals.

“If your organization and its participants truly believe they made the right decision, then you can still appreciate that people are hurt and outraged over this decision...” Patronis wrote. “The future of college football is at stake, and the eyes of the sports world and the college football community are watching.”

DeSantis also spent time talking about the state’s overall university system, which is regarded as one of the best in the nation.

“All I would say is, I like those academic rankings,” DeSantis said. “I just want the football rankings to match that.”

Times staff writer Romy Ellenbogen contributed to this report.

• • •

Sign up for the Sports Today newsletter to get daily updates on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning and college football across Florida.

Never miss out on the latest with your favorite Tampa Bay sports teams. Follow our coverage on Instagram, X and Facebook.