The controversy over playoff rankings now feels as much a part of college football as school fight songs.
A lot of fans found themselves second-guessing the playoff committee this week as Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama made the field, with undefeated Florida State and two-time defending champ Georgia missing the cut. Those decisions were just as contested in the Ravens’ locker room, with Seminoles and Bulldogs alums speaking out.
Cornerback and FSU alum Ronald Darby echoed the outrage of Seminoles coach Mike Norvell and other Florida State backers, calling the decision to exclude the Atlantic Coast Conference champions “disrespectful.” The CFP committee cited injuries, including to quarterback Jordan Travis, as a key factor in leaving FSU on the outside, but Darby pushed back.
“I feel like it was a smack in the face to other guys who work hard and bust their tails,” he said. “I hope they get better soon, the quarterbacks who went down. But they ain’t the full team. You need a whole team. I just felt like it was wrong to all the other players who bust they ass to get in that position.”
The other most aggrieved team is Georgia, whose only loss came to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game. The Bulldogs won back-to-back titles in 2021 and 2022 and were hoping for another shot.
Smith, a former SEC defensive player of the year at Georgia, said he learned of the snub by text message.
“Somebody texted me, I think, and said, ‘Dang, it’s crazy how they did the Dawgs,’” he said. “But, at the end of the day, it’s what [Georgia coach] Kirby [Smart] said, if you think Georgia’s not one of the best four teams, then you’re lying to yourself. I don’t know what you’re on — blue dust, or whatever the case may be — but that is what it is.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, of course, coaches Michigan. The Ravens also have a few players from the schools who will be playing for the championship, including kicker Justin Tucker (Texas) and linebacker Josh Ross (Michigan). Cornerback and Alabama alum Marlon Humphrey, who was wearing Crimson Tide sweatpants during his Wednesday media session, didn’t mind rubbing it in a bit.
“I hate it for FSU. It’s tough. It’s tough,” he said. “But it’s not the most deserving [team]; it’s the teams that are the best four teams. It’s that simple. I think the committee got it perfect. ... So, sorry to FSU. Sorry to Georgia, Ohio State. But the Tide is going to roll. It’s kind of what we do. So really excited for the College Football Playoff, and roll Tide.”
As Humphrey wrapped up his point, Ross leaned over to shout over the scrum: “Go Blue!” In some ways, the competition has already begun.
‘Starstruck’ by Snoop Dogg
There’s pretty much two ways to handle meeting a celebrity you’ve admired for most of your life. One is to play it cool, be confident and try to see them eye to eye.
Lamar Jackson went the other way.
While Snoop Dogg posted an Instagram photo with the Ravens quarterback looking calm, Jackson admitted he was “kinda starstruck” by meeting the 52-year-old rapper in person during the bye week. Jackson’s status as a top-tier NFL quarterback affords him access to high-level circles, but he acknowledged he doesn’t always hold back his enthusiasm when he meets celebs like Snoop Dogg.
“I pretty much do it right in front of people — just be hype, like a little kid,” Jackson said. “Sometimes I think about [how it’s cool to meet celebrities], but it’s like right in front of ’em. I don’t think about it when I walk away from ’em. I’m like, ‘I met Snoop Dogg!’”
The Ravens’ resident celebrity is Odell Beckham Jr., who had a star-studded summer of parties and travel. Now he’s more immune to the starstruck feeling but, early in his career, he had a gushing moment when he met basketball star LeBron James.
“I remember a little bit when I was younger after The Catch, and LeBron was in New York, and I end up going to [famed New York Italian restaurant] Carbone with him.” Beckham said. “This is like my idol — my idol idol. I think I’m a little slue-footed because of him. So I definitely know what it’s like, but I feel like now I’ve just been around it so much, I’ve just had to be accustomed to it or used to it.”
For Jackson, maybe he’ll get used to it one day.
Jonas Shaffer contributed reporting to this story.