Nov 4, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Florida State Seminoles Athletic Director Michael Alford in attendance as the Florida State Seminoles play the Pittsburgh Panthers at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t take an investigation or a lawsuit to figure out how Florida State feels about ESPN.

Still seething over last year’s College Football Playoff snub, which saw two one-loss conference winners — Alabama and Texas — get in over them, the Seminoles and their fans largely pointed the finger at the Worldwide Leader. This has seemingly fueled their pursuit of an exit from the Grant Rights Deal with the ACC and ESPN.

Florida State has taken its accusations against ESPN a step further. It now alleges that ESPN, which holds broadcast rights for both the College Football Playoff and the ACC, may have known the Seminoles would be excluded before the official announcement.

FSU Athletic Director Michael Alford claimed as much during Tuesday’s conversation with Danny Kanell and Dusty Dvoracek on SiriusXM.

“When I kind of knew — when it hit me — walking to the bus out of the locker room with some players, the conversation between the two of them was one of them saying, ‘We’re not going,’ and the other one saying, ‘What are you talking about?'” Alford said, via the New York Post.

“And this player, who is no longer with us, is going, ‘Follow the money. We’re not gonna be in. Alabama won [the SEC championship game versus Georgia]. We’re not going.'”

And for a player to say that, Alford just blew it off. He flatly rejected the idea that FSU would be snubbed. Alford insisted the undefeated and ACC champions Seminoles had clearly earned a spot in the CFP. He emphasized the unprecedented nature of excluding a 13-0 Power Five champion, declaring their confidence that they belonged in the playoffs.

“But really the next day when we went to the selection show, and when I get there and look up and see who’s covering us and see that Marty Smith is in Tuscaloosa, that hit me that we’re not getting in,” Alford explained.

Harry Lyles Jr. was covering the Seminoles.

Spotting the clip on Tuesday, Lyles took it to X (formerly Twitter) with a meme that perfectly captured the ricochet shot. It featured Tim Robinson’s character from Netflix’s I Think You Should Leave, who believes his hat is stylish, only to discover everyone else finds it ridiculous.

At that moment, Lyles knew that Alford was talking about him.

“I did not get really worried until I saw that,” Alford said of Lyles covering Florida State. “And, then I kind of knew, ‘OK, we may not be in here.’ And then, when Texas popped up, I knew for sure that it was not going to be us… I went back, and I heard that. I went back to watch that show and listened to the narrative of the broadcast booth. And that alarmed me. I didn’t watch that until afterward, and I was like, ‘Wow, that was alarming conversations that was going on during the game.'”

Understandably, Florida State’s disappointment with ESPN lingers.

Alford and Florida State’s frustration has even led to an unintended shot—a playful jab at a rising ESPN reporter whose career trajectory is a lot more positive than the Seminoles’ future in the ACC. To his credit, Lyles handled the situation with humor rather than taking offense. Sure, Alford’s comments suggest concerns with the Worldwide Leader, but that shouldn’t take anything away from Lyles’ light-hearted reaction.

[NYP, Sirius XM/Harry Lyles Jr. on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.