Sen. Rick Scott demands answers over FSU snubbing as anger builds over college football pick

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The Florida senator demanded emails, text messages and other communication involving the decision.

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — A raging controversy over the snubbing of a football team is becoming — you guessed it — a political football.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is demanding answers from the head of the College Football Playoff selection committee as to why Florida State University became the first undefeated team from a “Power 5” conference to be denied a chance to play in the annual event.

FSU had been in the running for the four-team playoff, but the committee on Sunday announced that it had chosen two one-loss teams — Texas and Alabama — ahead of the FSU team, the Seminoles. The decision ignited a firestorm in part because it appeared to be based on the injury of FSU’s star quarterback.

Even former President Donald Trump weighed in, posting on Truth Social that FSU was “treated very badly by the committee” and then added “really bad lobbying effort. … Let’s blame DeSanctimonious.” DeSantis and Trump are currently engaged in a fight to win the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

Scott on Monday sent a three-page letter to Boo Corrigan, the chair of the selection committee asking for detailed information about the process used to deny FSU a spot in the playoffs.

Scott called the decision to slide FSU out of the playoffs “shocking” and he demanded “total transparency” for how the selection committee reached its conclusion. The team had been ranked fourth just a week before.

“There are countless other concerns and arguments that could be voiced here, but the main issue is the justified perception of an unfair system that has wrongly disregarded the known strengths of an undefeated team over the speculated impact of losing a single player,” Scott wrote. “While I doubt the committee’s decision will be reversed to rightly reward FSU for its hard-fought, undefeated season as the committee has done for other undefeated Power Five conference champions in recent years, I do believe that total transparency regarding how this decision was reached would do tremendous good for the committee, the CFP as a whole, and the college football community.”

Scott’s missive may be the first in a series of actions suggested or proposed by Florida politicians. Some state legislators have called for lawsuits, while Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) in a social media post called the bypassing of FSU a “corrupt decision” driven by television money.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), an FSU alumnus, labeled the selection committee “trash” in a social media post. Gov. Ron DeSantis said in his own post on X, formally known as Twitter, that “what we learned today is that you can go undefeated and win your conference championship, but the College Football Playoff committee will ignore these results.” DeSantis said on Fox News on Monday evening that he was proposing to set aside $1 million in his upcoming budget recommendations “in case there ever is any litigation.”

“I’m not saying that there’s going to be. They are looking at it. I don’t think that this has spoken well for college football,” he said. If legislators agreed to set aside the money, it would not be available until later in 2024.

In his letter, Scott pointed out that the decision to keep FSU out of the playoffs, while guaranteeing a spot to a team from the Southeastern Conference, would cost FSU and the Atlantic Coast Conference $2 million.

“While this is a significant amount of money, it is just a fraction of the total economic impact that playoff contention would have created for FSU,” Scott wrote. “Beyond the benefit to the university and its athletic program, the committee’s decision will also likely have profound impacts on the future earnings and opportunities for the players.”

FSU’s season included wins over two SEC teams — Louisiana State and the University of Florida — as well as wins over ACC rivals Clemson and a win in the ACC title game on Saturday. The team’s quarterback, Jordan Travis, suffered a season-ending leg injury in mid-November.

FSU still defeated the University of Florida Gators a week later with a backup quarterback and earned the number four spot in the penultimate playoff rankings. The team, however, was forced to turn to its third-string quarterback in the championship game against Louisville.

The committee, however, dropped FSU after Alabama defeated reigning national champion Georgia in the SEC championship. Alabama had lost earlier in the season to Texas, which the committee put in at the third spot.

In his request to Corrigan, Scott demanded emails, text messages and other communication between selection committee members, as well as any communication the members had with representatives of the SEC, the sports media outlet ESPN, and any else outside of the committee.

ESPN, which is owned by media conglomerate Disney and has exclusive rights to release the playoff rankings, has come under fire because many of its announcers and pundits publicly suggested FSU should be left out of the playoffs in favor of Alabama.

Scott also asked for vote sheets and notes or recordings from selection committee meetings.

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