Nov 25, 2017; Auburn, AL, USA; Lee Corso wears the Alabama Crimson Tide mascot head as Charles Barkley and Kirk Herbstreit look on before the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s coverage of Florida State’s playoff exclusion has highlighted a well-known fact: the ACC will always play second fiddle to the SEC for the network. Many thought his point was emphasized by Kirk Herbstreit, who praised the College Football Playoff committee for selecting the SEC Champion over the unbeaten ACC Champion.

“I think if [FSU backup quarterback] Tate [Rodemaker] went out there and lit it up, it would be a lot like what Cardale Jones did for Ohio State,” he said. “I think the committee evaluated it based on what they saw. And by the way, what Florida State did at The Swamp was impressive. I called that game. It was a tough environment. I don’t care what Florida’s record was; that game was impressive for them to be able to get out of that game with a backup quarterback. But when you’re looking at what they did the last two games and evaluating them, they want all the way down to the third guy, a freshman [Brock Glenn].

“It’s just the reality,” Herbstreit added. “You’re comparing an Alabama to Florida State; you have to give Alabama the nod. Even though they had a close game against Auburn in a rivalry, they beat Georgia on a neutral site. And Georgia was the team, and Alabama beat them. You cannot take Alabama out of this; they have to be in. And I think the committee did a great job.

This isn’t Herbstreit’s new point of view, though. During ESPN’s College GameDay on Nov. 18 – just hours before Travis suffered his season-ending leg injury – Herbstreit made the case that Alabama should be in the playoff field over undefeated Florida State even with no injuries.

So, Herbstreit has been pretty consistent on this opinion, even if it points to something larger at play here.

With that, Herbstreit was featured on Monday’s episode of The Pat McAfee Show episode. McAfee jokingly introduced his GameDay counterpart as the person who decides the College Football Playoff, the Heisman, and other significant college football milestones.

Herbstreit — knowing that McAfee was only kidding — refuted the idea that he has a personal agenda related to college football.

“I know you’re kidding, but there are some people that think you’re serious when it comes to ESPN or me, or anybody has any agenda or have anything to do with these teams,” Herbstreit said. “It’s the committee that ultimately decides what’s gonna happen. We all have opinions about what we think. I don’t have an agenda on anything other than I just want to see the subjective analysis of who the best four teams are.

“I think the first thing is that people that are voicing an opinion, who don’t really understand what this is. I’ve been in the front row asking questions since 2014, when this thing started. I think the big thing is you have to clarify everything.”

Herbstreit added some clarity on what the committee would be looking at to pick from a cluster of teams that included Texas, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia. This was operating under the correct assumption that Michigan and Washington had already locked in playoff spots.

“So what you look at is conference championship, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition is another thing,” he said. “Comparative outcomes with a common opponent. None of these are weighted more than the other. And the last thing is other relevant factors, such as the unavailability of key players or coaches, that may have affected a team’s performance, or likely will affect its postseason performance.

To Herbstreit, that last part is what separates these teams. He argues that the head-to-head win over Alabama was the deciding factor in placing Texas ahead of Alabama. He also suggested that Texas was likely ranked third based on this win, while Alabama, Florida State, and Georgia were left to be compared based on the other criteria.

Although it doesn’t prove that ESPN doesn’t have a bias, Herbstreit attempted to clear himself of having any perceived agenda, as he has seen himself recently receive backlash from Florida State supporters. While he did an admirable job of clarifying the standards and distancing himself from the issue in general, we doubt this will alleviate the frustration or disappointment felt by Florida State fans over their exclusion from the playoff.

[The Pat McAfee Show via Barrett Sports Media]

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.