Friedlander: Orange Bowl relegation has a sour taste for Florida State after Playoff snub
The bad news has been delivered, the disappointment is real and the anger continues to boil.
Now comes the hard part for Mike Norvell and his staff: Regrouping and getting their Florida State football team focused enough to play another game. Even though that game is little more than an afterthought to the one in which they wanted and deserved to be playing 2 days later.
The Orange Bowl typically is one of the premier events on college football’s postseason calendar. This year it’s an unwanted consolation prize. For the Seminoles and Georgia, their opponent on Dec. 30.
If not for the warm weather location, the history and the glitzy halftime show, they might as well be at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl or the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl. It’s the football equivalent of basketball’s NIT.
At least the Bulldogs have a couple of national championship trophies to help ease their pain over being left out of the College Football Playoff.
Not so much for FSU.
It’s been said that the journey is much more important than the destination. And there’s a certain truth to that. But in the Seminoles’ case, the journey was halted before they had a chance to get to the finish line.
Through no fault of their own. Other than an untimely injury that still didn’t prevent them from winning their final 2 games and shouldn’t have factored into the equation.
Much of the joy derived from their 13-0 season and that championship celebration on the field at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium was doused Sunday when they were denied the championship opportunity they earned on the field of play.
The emotion was graphically etched on the faces of Norvell and his players as they watched Texas and Alabama – both with a loss – leapfrog them into Playoff positions while they became a footnote in college football history.
The first undefeated Power 5 conference champion in the 10 years of the current Playoff format to be left out of the 4-team bracket.
“I just hurt for the players,” Norvell said a few hours later on an Orange Bowl conference call with the media. “It was one of the tougher moments I’ve had to experience, just for all that they’ve done.”
You can tell just how upset Mike Norvell is for his players in this video.
All they did was win every game on their schedule.
An unforgivable and incompetent decision by the CFP that clearly just absolutely devastates this team: pic.twitter.com/bOabfKhRHJ
— Zach Blostein (@ZBlostein247) December 3, 2023
The immediate response that comes to mind once the initial shock of the snub wears off is for the Seminoles to channel all their disappointment and anger into preparing to make a statement to the Playoff committee and anyone else who might be watching.
Go to South Florida. Dominate on defense like they did to Louisville in Saturday’s ACC Championship Game. Deliver a loud, emphatic “I told you so” by scoring enough points to prove they can win without injured quarterback Jordan Travis.
As if they haven’t already done that.
Show the world how badly they were wronged by beating the 2-time defending national champions who represent the conference considered to be the gold standard of their sport, claiming an uncrowned national title, holding a parade and hanging a banner.
The only problem with that strategy is that neither FSU nor Georgia is likely to field teams that look anything close to resembling the units that would have taken the field for them in a Playoff scenario.
At this point, what do the likes of Jared Verse, Braden Fiske, Keon Coleman, Johnny Wilson, Trey Benson and others have to gain by playing in what amounts to a meaningless exhibition game? The same goes for several Bulldogs.
At least some, if not all, are likely to opt-out rather than risk injury and their upcoming NFL Draft prospects for the benefit of game sponsors and a certain television network that likely had at least some influence in keeping their team out of the Playoff.
Besides, the committee made it abundantly clear Sunday afternoon that their games really aren’t that important.
“What is the point of playing games? Do you tell players it is OK to quit if someone goes down? Do you not play a senior on Senior Day for fear of injury?” Norvell said in a scathing statement issued immediately following Sunday’s snub.
He continued by praising the resilience his players have shown in the face of adversity and declared that he believes in how the Seminoles will respond.
They’ve done it all season.
But getting them to buy in one more time, even with the obvious us against the world motivation, won’t be easy. But if Norvell can pull it off, it will be his most impressive accomplishment this season.
And that’s saying a lot for a guy who has already been selected as his conference’s Coach of the Year.