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4 teams will vie for the college football championship — FSU isn't one of them

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Unfathomable, disgusted, infuriated, a travesty. Those were some of the safe-for-work reactions after the Florida State University's football team's undefeated season was deemed insufficient to get them a bid to compete in the College Football Playoffs next month. Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama will be vying for a national championship. That despite one loss each for Texas and Alabama. The chair of the College Football Playoff Committee, Boo Corrigan, told ESPN it all came down to FSU's missing their star quarterback because of an injury.

(SOUNDBITE OF ESPN BROADCAST)

BOO CORRIGAN: Right now, without Jordan Travis, without the offensive dynamic that he brings to it, they are a different team. And the committee voted Alabama 4 and Florida State 5.

MARTIN: But - and don't @ me here - could it have been the right call? We're going to ask Kevin Blackistone, Washington Post sports columnist and a frequent contributor to ESPN. Good morning.

KEVIN BLACKISTONE: Good morning. How are you doing?

MARTIN: So how - so what about it? Did the committee make the right decision?

BLACKISTONE: The committee made the absolute right decision. And I'm sorry everybody's so upset. And the reason everybody is so upset is because ever since we've been doing these arranged marriages to figure out who's the best football team in the college landscape, no undefeated team from one of the most powerful conferences in the country has ever been left out of the party. But this time, it happened.

And Boo Corrigan, who you referenced there, made the right decision. The bottom line is that Jordan Travis, Florida State's fabulous quarterback, got hurt a couple of games ago. And it's just not as formidable a team as it was for all the season. I'll just give you one example. When Jordan Travis was playing, they were averaging about 450 yards per game, easily averaging 30-some points per game. Since then, with his backup and then a freshman third-string quarterback, they've been averaging just over 320 yards a game. So it's just a different team.

MARTIN: So say more about why people are so mad. I mean, I've read some people seem to think that this is - this says something about college football writ large. I mean, your colleague at The Washington Post, Jerry Brewer, wrote that - he wrote this the other day. He says, the whole sport is a travesty of access and competition. Is there a problem there? Is there a bigger problem there that this somehow is a metaphor for?

BLACKISTONE: Well, sure. I mean, a lot of people are upset because it seems like the Southeastern Conference, which is the most powerful football conference in the country, got special treatment here because Alabama, which had once lost, moved back up into the top four and leapfrogged Florida State. And you know what? That's absolutely correct. The committee got that right, too, because the Southeastern Conference is the best football conference in college football. They have the best strength of schedule, which means the opponents that they played were the toughest in the country.

MARTIN: Yeah, so...

BLACKISTONE: And they have Nick Saban, the best coach. And they have the best players.

MARTIN: So...

BLACKISTONE: Absolutely, they got that right, too.

MARTIN: OK, very briefly - this - so whether people are mad or not mad, however they feel about it, this system ends. The playoffs expand to 12 teams next year. Is that going to make people any less mad?

BLACKISTONE: No. Then we'll be arguing over whether the 13th or the 14th-ranked team should have gotten into the top 12. That'll be the argument then. What people should be mad about is the fact that the players are still not going to share in all the revenues that have generated through this tournament. That's what - that's the real problem.

MARTIN: OK. That is Washington Post sports columnist Kevin Blackistone. Kevin, thank you.

BLACKISTONE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLACK MILK SONG, "PLAY THE KEYS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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