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Bill Hancock cites injury to Jordan Travis, strength of schedule as reason for FSU's playoff snub

College Football Playoff executive director says selection committee members 'confident they made the right decisions'
Florida State Seminoles QB Jordan Travis just before being injured vs. North Alabama Lions, Nov. 18, 2023
Posted at 11:36 AM, Dec 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-16 11:41:53-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock responded Friday to Florida lawmakers seeking "full transparency" as to why Florida State was left out of the playoff.

In a letter sent Friday to U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Hancock told Scott that the decision to drop the Seminoles from fourth to fifth in the final rankings — behind undefeated Michigan and Washington and two one-loss teams, Texas and Alabama — was based on "two principal reasons" — the season-ending injury to Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis and the team's strength of schedule.

Travis, a former Benjamin School standout, suffered a serious leg injury during Florida State's 58-13 victory against North Alabama in the final home game of the regular season.

"That caused the committee to believe that there were indeed four teams that should rank higher than FSU," Hancock said.

Florida State Seminoles QB holds fist to crowd as he's carted off field after injury, Nov. 18, 2023
Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis gestures to the crowd as he's taken off the field after being injured during the first quarter against North Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Hancock also cited the Seminoles' strength of schedule, saying it "was not as strong as the four teams that were ranked ahead of them." He cited seven other undefeated teams that did not make the playoff in its 10-year history.

"While this is the first year such a team was from a so-called P5 conference, strength of schedule remains a crucial factor," he said.

Florida State beat a pair of Southeastern Conference teams — a season-opening rout of LSU in Orlando and a road win at Florida with backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker — and had wins against Atlantic Coast Conference foes Clemson, Duke and Miami.

"Everyone on the Committee understands the disappointment felt by Florida State fans," Hancock wrote. "We recognize that no matter what decision was made, fans somewhere would be disappointed. This year, there were more than four highly impressive teams competing for four Playoff spots — yet only four could qualify. The Committee members are confident they made the right decisions in ranking the best four teams in the country based on the protocol and we all look forward to great playoff games."

Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell reacts after timeout during first half against LSU Tigers, Sept. 3, 2023
Florida State head coach Mike Norvell reacts to players on the field after a timeout during the first half against LSU, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023, in Orlando, Fla.

Earlier this week, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said she planned to launch an investigation into the committee and its actions.

Her statement came more than a week after Florida State was left out of the playoff despite finishing the regular season 13-0 and followed Scott's letter to selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan that demanded the votes of each member on the committee as well as notes, recordings, emails, texts and written communication between the committee and a host of others, including the Southeastern Conference and TV partner ESPN.

Hancock did not include that information in his response.