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Florida Attorney General investigating FSU football playoff snub

The Attorney General has started an antitrust investigation into the College Football Playoff.
 
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has launched an investigation into Florida State's exclusion from the College Football Playoff.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has launched an investigation into Florida State's exclusion from the College Football Playoff. [ MATIAS J. OCNER | Miami Herald ]
Published Dec. 12, 2023|Updated Dec. 12, 2023

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has launched an antitrust investigation into the College Football Playoff’s exclusion of undefeated Florida State in favor of 12-1 Alabama.

Moody formally began the investigation Tuesday, looking into “possible contracts, combinations, or conspiracies ... relating to anticompetitive effects.”

“I’m a lifelong Gator, but I’m also the Florida Attorney General, and I know injustice when I see it,” Moody said in a statement. “No rational person or college football fan can look at this situation and not question the result ...

“As it stands, the Committee’s decision reeks of partiality, so we are demanding answers — not only for FSU, but for all schools, teams and fans of college football.”

Florida State is 13-0 but missed the field, with the injury to star quarterback Jordan Travis cited as one reason why.
Florida State is 13-0 but missed the field, with the injury to star quarterback Jordan Travis cited as one reason why. [ COLIN HACKLEY | AP ]

Moody and her office are demanding those answers through a civil investigative demand — essentially a subpoena for civil cases, not criminal ones. The office’s requests include:

• Information about communications related to “the availability of ‘key players and coaches’” during the committee’s deliberations. This is significant because committee chairperson Boo Corrigan cited the injury to FSU star Jordan Travis as a major reason why Alabama leapfrogged the Seminoles.

• The individual and collective votes by the committee, plus notes and other related documents.

• Communications to/from the ACC, SEC, ESPN or NCAA about deliberations.

• Media talking points or interview notes.

• Documents or communication about “restrictions” on conferences “against having alternate playoff schedules.”

• Information about any protests or boycotts involving major bowl games or the playoff.

• Any internal communications about “the Power Five Conferences and the composition” of major bowl games and the playoff.

Moody gave the College Football Playoff until Dec. 26 to begin answering with a final deadline of Jan. 11.

The playoff is managed by the CFP Administration, LLC and based in Irving, Texas, just outside Dallas.

“We will carefully review this demand for information, but it sure seems to be an overly aggressive reaction to a college football ranking in which some fans somewhere were bound to be disappointed,” playoff executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement.

The College Football Playoff is under investigation by the Florida Attorney General's Office.
The College Football Playoff is under investigation by the Florida Attorney General's Office. [ Times (2017) ]

FSU entered conference championship weekend ranked fourth by the playoff selection committee. The Seminoles beat No. 14 Louisville to win the ACC title and improve to 13-0 but were passed in the final rankings by one-loss Alabama, which upset No. 1 Georgia in the SEC championship game.

The Crimson Tide earned the fourth and final spot, joining undefeated Big Ten champion Michigan, undefeated Pac-12 champion Washington and 12-1 Big 12 champion Texas. It was the first time an undefeated champion from a major conference has been excluded from the playoff or its predecessor, the Bowl Championship Series, in favor of a one-loss team.

The decision has drawn the scrutiny of some of the state’s biggest politicians.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott has called for more transparency from the CFP and its committee while requesting similar documents to the ones Moody seeks. Gov. Ron DeSantis set aside $1 million in his proposed budget for possible litigation. U.S. Rep Gus Bilirakis — whose disctrict includes Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties — has requested a briefing from the NCAA and selection committee in his role as the chairman of the House’s innovation, data and commerce subcommittee.

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