Florida AG issues subpoena for records of College Football Playoff Committee

College Football Playoff trophy
Posted at 4:12 PM, Dec 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-12 18:41:35-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Just weeks after the Florida State Seminoles were denied a spot in the College Football Playoff, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody's office is ratcheting up the fight with the CFP selection committee.

Moody's office is sending a 10-page subpoena to the 13-member CFP selection Committee. The move comes after weeks of complaints from Florida State fans and media across the country over the Seminoles being left out of the playoff despite finishing as the champion of a Power 5 Conference and with an undefeated record.

“My Office is launching an investigation to examine if the Committee was involved in any anticompetitive conduct," Moody said in a statement. "As it stands, the Committee’s decision reeks of partiality, so we are demanding answers—not only for FSU but for all schools, teams, and fans of college football. In Florida, merit matters. If it’s attention they were looking for, the Committee certainly has our attention now.”

The move to leave out the Seminoles sparked outrage from fans and many media pundits. It also grabbed the attention of politicians, including Governor Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senator Rick Scott.

This civil demand for information is wide-ranging and includes communications, documents, and votes related to the final decision of the selection committee.

Florida Subpoena of College Football Playoff
Opening page of a subpoena sent to the College Football Playoff committee by the state of Florida.

AG Moody's office is seeking multiple communications including, but not limited to:

  • All communications relating to deliberations to or from the SEC, ACC, NCAA, ESPN, Group of Five Conferences, Power Five Conferences, or any other person related to the deliberations
  • All documents relating to public statements relation to the deliberations, including media talking points and interview notes
  • Documents relating to restrictions of the Conferences against having alternate playoff schedules
  • Documents showing compensation of members in 2023
  • Documents sufficient to show all recusals of Committee members from deliberations
  • The Committee's standards relating to ethics and conflicts of interest

The committee, according to the College Football Playoff website, chooses four teams based on strength of schedule, head-to-head results against common opponents, championships won, and "other factors."
In the case of Florida State, the committee decided to put a one-loss champion from the Big 12 (Texas) and a one-loss champion from the SEC (Alabama) in over the Noles.

The 2023 College Football Playoff Committee is made up of former athletic directors, coaches, players, and a sportswriter (now a professor). Specifically, the committee members this season are:

  • Chris Ault, former head coach and athletic director at Nevada
  • Mitch Barnhart, athletic director at the University of Kentucky
  • Boo Corrigan, athletic director at NC State (Committee Chair)
  • Chet Gladchuk, athletic director at Navy
  • Jim Grobe, former head coach at multiple schools
  • Mark Harlan, athletic director at Utah
  • Warde Manuel, athletic director at Michigan
  • David Sayler, athletic director at Miami (Ohio)
  • Will Shields - former NFL player, Outland Trophy winner, College Football Hall of Famer
  • Gene Taylor, athletic director at Kansas State
  • Joe Taylor, vice president of intercollegiate athletics, Virginia Union University
  • Rod West, former Notre Dame player, member of the board of directors for the National Football Foundation
  • Kelly Whiteside, professor at Montclair State University, 14 years as a college football writer at USA Today

Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, gave a comment on the subpoena on behalf of the committee.
“We will carefully review this demand for information, but it sure seems to be an overly aggressive reaction to a college football ranking in which some fans somewhere were bound to be disappointed,” said Hancock.

For his part, Governor DeSantis made a request for up to $1 million for Florida State and the state university system to wage a legal fight for the omission of the Seminoles.

No lawsuit has been filed by any state entity over the exclusion of FSU.

The College Football Playoff with Washington, Texas, Alabama, and Michigan kicks off on January 1, with a championship game on January 8.