A social media post is one thing. The launching of an investigation is another. Florida A&M University received the former from Florida politicians after winning a college football national championship. Florida State University got the latter.
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Lost in the midst — to some — of the outcry around the College Football Playoff Committee’s decision to leave an undefeated conference champion out of the “Final 4” for the first time in history, is that the state of Florida captured a different college football national championship over the weekend. FAMU, a Historically Black College and University, out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) defeated Howard University, the HBCU alma mater of Vice President Kamala Harris (who was at the game), out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), 30-26, at the 2023 Cricket Celebration Bowl to be named HBCU College Football National Champions.
But, this column isn’t about how FAMU’s win came exactly 45 years to the day after they made history as the first and only HBCU to win an NCAA Division I-AA national championship on Dec. 16, 1978. This column is about how the powers that be in the state aren’t celebrating a historic win with the same energy that they complained about a historic snub.
“What we learned today is that you can go undefeated and win your conference championship game, but the College Football Playoff committee will ignore these results. Congratulations to @FSUFootball on an outstanding season and winning the ACC championship!,” wrote Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in a 38-word post to social media.
“Congratulations, @FAMU_FB on making your first Celebration Bowl appearance a memorable one and coming home as the 2023 HBCU National Champions! You’ve had an outstanding season and made the state of Florida proud,” he wrote to the Rattlers.
The post dedicated to FAMU had six fewer words. It may be petty, but semantics and details matter. Besides, the governor’s praise on social media was par for the course. However, the actions of other Florida lawmakers are where the attention should be.
“I know injustice when I see it,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody in a video she posted to social media.
Think about that for a second. One of the most powerful people in the state who allowed George Zimmerman to be a free man considers what happened to FSU an “injustice.”
Moody has launched an investigation into the CFP’s decision, as Florida’s antitrust division is demanding “more information about the nature of possible contracts, conspiracies in restraint of trade or monopolization of trade and commerce relating to anticompetitive effects of the College Football Playoff.”
Florida Senator Rick Scott got in on the action, too. Leading the CFP to make a statement, explaining why FSU wasn’t good enough.
“Everyone on the Committee understands the disappointment felt by Florida State fans,” wrote CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock. “We recognize that no matter what decision was made, fans somewhere would be disappointed. The Committee members are confident they made the right decisions in ranking the best four teams in the country based on the protocol and we all look forward to great playoff games.”
Despite what it feels like this is probably about, the one thing that Florida lawmakers aren’t discussing is the economic ramifications of the CFP’s decision, which is more than just something politicians can use to curry favor with voters.
According to the CFP’s website:
“A conference will receive $6 million for each team that is selected for a Playoff Semifinal. There will be no additional distribution to conferences whose teams qualify for the national championship game. A conference will receive $4 million for each team that plays in a non-playoff bowl under the arrangement.
Each conference whose team participates in a Playoff Semifinal, Cotton, Fiesta, or Peach bowls, or in the national championship game, will receive $2.85 million to cover expenses for each game.”
FSU and the ACC lost out on millions, their anger is beyond valid and always has been. The problem is that something good happened for the state of Florida when the Black school that’s down the street from Florida State won a national title, bringing joy and excitement to a football state and the city of Tallahassee. Florida lawmakers need to stop being obsessed with what FSU won’t be playing for and pay more attention to what FAMU has already accomplished.