Since 2013, Florida State fans have never ridden so high as they did this season. Now, after a historic decision by the CFP committee, the Noles have never felt so low.
It was a tremendous season for the Seminoles. Quarterback Jordan Travis was playing at a Heisman level and it felt like they had a spot in the playoffs locked down. Then disaster struck.
In a fairly meaningless game against North Alabama, Travis sustained a season- ending leg injury. Backup QB Tate Rodemaker and the Noles defense, which some have called the best in the country, stepped up and beat rival Florida in the swamp and took down number 14 Louisville to win the ACC Championship.
However, this was not enough for the CFP committee as they moved undefeated ACC champion Florida State out of the playoffs in favor of one loss Alabama and Texas. This marked a historic decision by the committee as it was the first time in a decade that the CFP committee has left out an undefeated conference champion.
The Noles still have something to play for, however, as they’ve been matched up with Georgia in Orange Bowl on December 30. But, the devastation continues as a bevy of top players for the Noles are opting out of the bowl game. This includes three of the Noles top offensive threats in Jaheim Bell, Johnny Wilson and Trey Benson, who are all declaring for the NFL draft. Florida State sack leader Jared Verse is also opting out and declaring for the NFL draft. Keon Coleman is the most recent Seminole to add himself to the list of opt outs declaring for the draft. This means that the Noles will compete against Georgia in the Orange Bowl without their star QB, their number one and number two receivers, their top tight end, their top rusher and their best defensive player.
Also opting out is DJ Lundy, Malcolm Ray, Markeston Douglas, AJ Duffy, Bless Harris and Rodney Hill. All of those players are entering the transfer portal and some have already found other homes, meaning they have played their last game as Seminoles.
Now, there is much debate in the college football world about bowl opt outs. Some believe that they players should see it as an honor and play for their teams and fans. Others understand the risk of injury in playing an extra game and respect the players caution when it comes to their future. For many players, especially ones who declare for the NFL draft, it’s all about their future and it’s nothing new. Players moving to the NFL have always feared injury in bowl games and so, decide not to play. This, however, leads to what should be the biggest games of the year for bowl bound programs being played by third and fourth stringers.
What this likely means for Florida State fans is an ugly loss. At full strength, this game has the potential to be an instant classic. A game you look back on and tell your kids about. But, FSU is not at full strength while Georgia has zero reported opt outs. Unfortunately, without Travis, Coleman, Wilson, Benson or Verse Florida State doesn’t have much of a shot to beat the mighty Georgia Bulldogs.
So, what does this mean for Florida State? It means that the window for winning a title has likely closed for a while. Six of their best players have declared for the draft and Florida State is currently evaluating its athletics future. It is thought that the Noles will soon leave the ACC for a better conference, likely the SEC. This means that instead of playing conference games against Syracuse, Boston College and Duke, Florida State will face the likes of Florida, Ole Miss and Tennessee and those aren’t even the best teams in the conference. It’s unknown when this will happen, but FSU and the ACC haven’t been on good terms for a while.
With your best players gone and the schedule only getting tougher, it is likely that Florida State will enter a rebuilding period as they seek to replace the production of six NFL caliber players and look to recover after a devastating blow to the program.