Nick Saban and Alabama are back in the College Football Playoff, securing their spot after an SEC Championship Game win over previous No. 1 Georgia.

Even with a win in Atlanta, nothing was ever guaranteed for the Crimson Tide. Alabama entered Championship Weekend at No. 8 in the rankings and needed a significant boost to make the field.

While Saban’s program did eventually land at No. 4 overall, that spot came at the expense of Florida State. The Seminoles entered the weekend at No. 3 and won the ACC Championship Game but somehow dropped 2 spots to No. 5 and outside of the CFP.

Asked about the early-season loss to Texas during a Sunday teleconference, Saban admitted Alabama is “not the same team” that suffered a double-digit loss at home to the Longhorns.

“Yeah, well, we won 10 of 11 games in a row and beat the No. 1 team in the country. We’re not the same team that we were when we played Texas earlier in the season. We were kind of in transition at the quarterback position,” said Saban. “It was unsettling. I think it affected our team. Although Texas has a great team, and I think they deserve every opportunity in terms of their résumé and getting in the game.”

Saban went on to admit this was a unique year with a number of quality teams, including Florida State. He also understands the Seminoles were in a position where they could not do anything else to prove they were deserving of a Playoff spot.

“This is just one of those years where – there’s been other years like this, where somebody that may have been deserving got left out,” Saban said, “and Florida State certainly going undefeated was – did everything they could to get in the playoffs, and unfortunately, probably because of the injury to the quarterback, they’re not going to have that opportunity.”

At the end of the day, Saban’s admission likely does anything to ease the feelings of anguish in Tallahassee. The 4-team model has always had a few inherent flaws, but FSU will now hold the distinction of the lone undefeated Power 5 champion to be left out of the final field.