College Football Playoff: Sports lawyer says FSU has ‘fighting chance’ of potential lawsuit

Shortly after Florida State won the Atlantic Coast Conference title, there were cheers. That joy was short-lived, as less than 24 hours later, the Seminoles learned that despite going undefeated and winning the conference title with their third quarterback, they would not be able to play for the College Football National Championship.

The backlash against the College Football Playoff selection committee’s decision has been swift and so far unrelenting, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis among the latest to float the idea of ​​a lawsuit. The governor is proposing a budget of $114 billion for the next fiscal year. Of that, he wants to set aside $1 million to build FSU’s case.

“We’re setting aside one million dollars for any legal costs that may arise as a result of this really, really, bad decision in the College Football Playoff,” DeSantis said Tuesday while discussing next year’s state budget.

But is talk of a lawsuit just hot air?
It’s a given that people lose every day and that nothing is truly guaranteed, no matter how hard someone works for it. So why are so many people so angry about the CFP movement to the point where they are considering suing it?

College Football Playoff

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College Football Playoff

No. 5 Florida State will play No. 6 Georgia later this month in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

The University of Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama will begin playing in major televised College Football Playoff National Title games later this month. As for Florida State, it will face a one-loss Georgia team in a lower-caliber bowl game later. WFSU spoke with Florida-based sports attorney Jason Setchen about his input. He says Florida State’s game against Georgia could be a key part of building a solid case.

“Do they have a case? The answer to that would be potentially because most lawsuits have to deal with money and monetary loss.”

Setchen is a practicing sports attorney in Miami with over 25 years of litigation experience. It represents athletes of almost every level, including high school and college students. He says FSU may have a fighting chance at a potential lawsuit against the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.

“I don’t know exactly what the numbers are going to look like when it all shakes out, but if Florida State played in the Orange Bowl and made a certain amount of money for being in it, they would have gotten more money if they had played in the College Football Playoff and they are were wronged by not being able to participate in the football playoffs, then they would have a monetary loss for which they could potentially seek legal redress.

Florida is behind Knowles
In the last week, Florida State has received legal support from other government officials such as Republican state Sen. Cory Simon, who played football at Florida State and retired from the pros. He’s partnered with U.S. Senator and former governor Rick Scott in the fight. Scott sent playoff committee chairman Boo Corrigan a three-page letter Monday expressing his disappointment with the group and its decision to keep FSU out of the playoffs.

In the letter, Scott wrote that he is demanding “full transparency” from the commission and wants each member to turn over any texts, emails or memos used as deciding factors against Florida State.

The outrage stems from comments Corrigan made on ESPN a day after the team won its 16th ACC title without starting quarterback Jordan Travis, who suffered a season-ending leg injury during the final home game.

“Looking at who they are as a team right now, without Jordan Travis, without the offensive dynamic that he brings; they’re a different team,” Corrigan said. “The panel voted Alabama four and Florida State five.”

Despite Travis’ injury
Head football coach Mike Norvell and Knowles still managed to pick up wins even without their star player. FSU won two more road games against the University of Florida (5-7) and its final win against No. 16 Louisville (10-3) to secure the ACC Championship.

While the fans believed that their team’s performance would surely take them to the playoffs, the selection committee did not. FSU dropped to No. 5 in the four-team playoff bracket.

Jordan Travis, FSU's star QB, suffered a serious leg injury during the final home game of the season.  Travis' injury required reconstructive surgery as he was forced out for the rest of the season.  But head football coach Mike Norvell and Knowles still managed to pick up wins with their ACC title game victory against Louisville., Dec. 2, 2023. (WFSU/David Mullins)

David Mullins

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WFSU Public Media

Jordan Travis, FSU’s star QB, suffered a serious leg injury during the final home game of the season. But head football coach Mike Norvell and Knowles still managed to pick up wins with their ACC title game victory against Louisville., Dec. 2, 2023. (WFSU/David Mullins)

A lawsuit of this magnitude can be a bit of a stretch
Although FSU has not publicly stated whether it will seek legal action, it voluntarily agreed to participate in the current playoff scheme when it agreed to join the NCAA and ACC.

According to Setchen, the state of Florida will more than likely spend more than a million dollars to hire enough lawyers to compile the vast amount of evidence needed to prove that the selection committee members did in fact violate CFP rules and guidelines when question of who might be in the playoffs. The current 4-team system has been in place since 2014, the year the College Football Playoff was first introduced.

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