Sam Session:

College football is a beautiful mess. That’s why FSU missed out on playoff

The foundation of college football has been and will always be subjectivity. That’s what makes it great and messy, but also why FSU missed out on the playoff.

Tallahassee, FL / USA - November 20, 2020: Doak Campbell Stadium, home of Florida State University Football
Tallahassee, FL / USA - November 20, 2020: Doak Campbell Stadium, home of Florida State University Football
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My wife is 38 weeks pregnant with our first child, and one of the things I’ve learned about having kids over this incredible journey is that everyone has an opinion on how to do the whole parenting thing. 

Even people who swear they don’t have a horse in the race or don’t know anything about parenting still have a tip or trick to share with you. 

This early parenthood experience reminds me a lot of college football. 

Everyone has an opinion about how to fix it or why it doesn’t work or knows something that can be done to improve it. 

But unlike the joys of having children, the best part of college football isn’t the actual football. It’s that never-ending conversation among its fans. (I’d imagine those conversations about parenting would be more fun if it were socially acceptable to tell people their opinions are dumb. But until I can tell Aunt Kathy she has no idea what she’s talking about after she suggests we go with reusable diapers, then we’ll never truly know.)

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Debating which conference is superior, which team has the better résumé or, as of the 2014 season, who deserves to be one of the four schools to make the college football playoff is what makes college football one of the biggest sports in the country. 

So when the CFP committee chose — for the first time in its existence — to leave an undefeated Power 5 conference champion in the Florida State team out of the playoff, you just knew everyone would have something to say. Everyone would have their opinion. 

Their subjective opinions. 

Although I could spew off my own opinion on the matter — which is that the Seminoles should have been included — the point that needs to be made here is different. 

College football is not — and has never been — an objective sport. 

It’s never been a math equation for which you can solve for X. It’s never been something definitive; it’s never been fact. 

Why? Because the sport of football is so violent and complex that it’s impossible to play the number of games required to determine in a sea of 128 FBS teams who is the rightful champion.

Even if we boil that number down to just the 65 Power 5 teams, there still needs to be a layer of subjectivity to determine which teams are the best. Take a look at every major professional sports league in the world. None of them has more than 30 or 32 teams. Heck, in soccer, most leagues only have 20 teams. 

The foundation of college football as a sport makes it so that it cannot — and will not — ever be objective. And although FSU fans will shake their collective fists at the committee for leaving their beloved Seminoles out of the playoff, this is a sport where what happens on the field of play can be superseded by the opinion of a 13-person committee. 

This is a sport where a manmade formula based on subjective criteria was used to pick two out of the 128 possible teams to determine who played for a championship. In case you forgot, I’m talking about the BCS system. 

This is a sport where a collection of journalists or coaches just chose the best team — in their opinions — and named it champion. 

This is a sport where schools just claimed championships because they felt like it — and yes, UCF is the rightful 2017 national champion. Go Knights, charge on (Class of 2016).

What I’m trying to say here is this: College football isn’t perfect, and it never will be. This isn’t a fair sport; this isn’t a sport that thrives for competitive balance. 

Because college football is a subjective sport, where the opinions of humans are the determining factor in selecting who gets the chance to play for a championship, then Murphy’s law applies — if something is possible, then it’ll happen. 

Like an undefeated Power 5 conference champion being left out of the playoff.

Sam Albuquerque is the Sports Editor for the Orange Observer. Please contact him with story ideas, results and statistics.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @SamBAlbuquerque
Instagram: @OrangeObserverSam



Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

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