Kirk Herbstreit Kirk Herbstreit

On Sunday afternoon, the College Football Playoff selection committee made a shocking decision to choose the one-loss Alabama Crimson Tide for the playoff field over the undefeated Florida State Seminoles. That marked the first time an unbeaten Power Five team has ever been passed over by the College Football Playoff.

The committee’s rationale for its controversial decision was that Florida State was not the same team without star quarterback Jordan Travis, who suffered a season-ending leg injury in the team’s second-to-last regular season game.  That reasoning was echoed by ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit shortly after the announcement,

“The loss of Jordan Travis – albeit impressive that the Noles won at The Swamp and the won in Charlotte to win a championship – this is not the same team without Jordan Travis,” Herbstreit said.

“I think it’s very, very sad to see the injury, and then of course, the Noles to be left out. So please don’t take this personally. It’s more a reflection of evaluating Alabama over Florida State, and who is the better team right now. And that is why Bama should have and did get the edge over Florida State.”

“You don’t have to agree with it, but there’s no agenda,” Herbstreit said. “This is just picking the four best teams, and that’s where we are.”

Herbstreit has been consistent in using Travis’ injury to justify the decision to put Alabama in over Florida State. But the truth is, he had been lobbying for a one-loss Alabama team to get into the College Football Playoff over an unbeaten Florida State team even before Travis’ injury.

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.

“That’s debatable,” Herbstreit said, pointing at the Florida State logo on the screen. “They’re debatable. That’s the controversy.”

“I think the debate would be between Alabama and undefeated Florida State,” Herbstreit said.

The rest of the crew went on to make their hypothetical predictions to the hypothetical scenario, which was of course how things actually played out the rest of the year with Washington, Florida State, and Texas all winning out and Alabama beating Georgia in the SEC Championship game.

As part of the debate, Rece Davis suggested that he believes both Texas and Florida State would make it over Alabama in this scenario. Herbstreit looked incredulous at Davis’ suggestion, shaking his head.

“No way the SEC champ’s left out,” Herbstreit said. “No way. No way.”

Ultimately, Herbstreit was right. But thanks to Travis’ injury, both he and the selection committee were given a convenient way to justify the unprecedented decision that he seemed to think was coming all along.

[Kirk Herbstreit]