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Why Sen. Rick Scott wants answers on Florida State football playoff snub

“It just seems like there’s something that we don’t know that’s going on here,” the U.S. Senator said.
 
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott continues to look for answers on Florida State's exclusion from the College Football Playoff.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott continues to look for answers on Florida State's exclusion from the College Football Playoff. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Dec. 13, 2023

Florida State’s exclusion from the College Football Playoff entered another phase Tuesday when the Attorney General’s Office began an antitrust investigation into the decision.

It was a move welcomed by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who continues to push for transparency from the 13-member playoff selection committee that picked 12-1 Alabama over undefeated FSU.

“I think this goes to the core point of what people think about our country right now: They think that the institutions are playing games,” Scott told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday morning. “People are losing trust of institutions in this country, whether it’s the FBI, what they’ve done, whether it’s the Department of Justice, whether it’s people attacking the Supreme Court. That’s what’s going on right now. It’s not good for this country when people can’t trust their institutions.”

Scott, a Florida Republican, said the playoff loses trust if it isn’t forthcoming and transparent about why the Seminoles fell below Alabama for the fourth and final playoff spot. He has publicly asked the selection committee’s chairman, North Carolina State athletic director Boo Corrigan, for information and documents about the decision. Those documents include written communication from ESPN or the SEC and the committee. He has not yet received a response.

“What’s the secret of all this?” Scott asked. “… Does ESPN decide, ‘Oh, gosh, we’ll get better ratings with different teams? Is there somebody on there that was trying to help a friend, that they get more money or something? I don’t know, but be transparent.

“Here’s what happens: When they’re not, you think the worst.”

FSU became the first undefeated champion from a major conference to be passed over by a one-loss team in the history of the playoff and its predecessor, the Bowl Championship Series. But other undefeated teams have been excluded, including UCF in 2017 and ‘18.

Florida State is 13-0 and beat Louisville to win the ACC title.
Florida State is 13-0 and beat Louisville to win the ACC title. [ ISAIAH VAZQUEZ | Orlando Sentinel ]

Scott said FSU’s snub was egregious because the Seminoles were ranked fourth before the ACC championship game but dropped a spot after a 10-point win over No. 14 Louisville. FSU was passed by a pair of one-loss conference champions, Texas and Alabama; they were seventh and eighth before beating Oklahoma State and Georgia to win the Big 12 and SEC.

He also referenced one of the committee’s stated reasons — the injury to FSU star quarterback Jordan Travis. Ohio State also had quarterback injuries in 2014 but leapfrogged No. 3 TCU to make the field. The Buckeyes took the final spot after a 59-0 win over Wisconsin for the Big Ten title, while the Horned Frogs fell three spots after a 55-3 win over Iowa State.

“So it just seems like there’s something that we don’t know that’s going on here,” Scott said of FSU’s omission.

Attorney General Ashley Moody and her office are investigating that claim. On Tuesday, they sent an antitrust civil investigative demand — essentially a civil subpoena — to the playoff for information and documents related to the decision. Scott said if an investigation is necessary to get those answers, then so be it.

“They’ve got to be transparent,” Scott said. “They can’t ruin this institution, which is what they’re doing.”

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