Photo courtesy of Garnet and Great/FSU football archivist
Nebraska certainly made a case, but most consider Florida State the team of the 1990s.
The Seminoles had one of the best runs in college football history. From 1987 to 2000, FSU finished in the AP top 5 every year. The only thing that can compare in modern college football is what Nick Saban is currently doing at Alabama.
While Bobby Bowden’s FSU teams won national championships in 1993 and 1999, one cannot help but wonder what his resume would have looked like with a College Football Playoff. Would he have ended up more national championships or would it have been less?
Not only did Bowden’s team finish in the top 5 in 14 straight seasons, but it finished in the top four in at least one of the two polls every year. As most are aware, four teams make the College Football Playoff under the current format.
Criteria and Hypothetical Playoff Opportunities
It’s important to note that we will not be including seasons where the Seminoles were outside of the top four before bowl season. As most are aware, the College Football Playoff selection committee takes the top four after the regular season, heading into bowl games.
While Florida State had that top-4 streak, years where the Seminoles were not in the top four heading into bowl season will not be included below. Here is a look the years and the amount of opportunities the Noles would have been in the playoff under Bowden:
^2000: No. 2
*1999: No. 1
^1998: No. 2
1997: No. 4
^1996: No. 1
*1993: No. 1
1992: No. 3
1988: No. 4
1987: No. 3
1980: No. 2
1979: No. 4
*Won the national championship that season
^Would have been national champions with bowl win
On the list, there are 11 FSU teams that would have made the playoff under Bowden. Two of them were actual national champions, and three lost in national championship games. That leaves six other Bowden-coached Florida State teams that would have been given an opportunity.
As little is mentioned about the scrappy 1979 and 1980 teams, those teams would have stood a puncher’s chance as long as they didn’t run into Oklahoma. The Sooners ended up beating FSU in the Orange Bowl in both of those seasons.
Oklahoma would cost Florida State three opportunities to claim a national championship. In addition to the aforementioned contests, the Sooners also topped FSU in the Orange Bowl for the 2000 BCS national title. The 1987, 1992 and 1997 teams all would have had realistic chances in a playoff.
We will leave the question to the readers, and please leave your answers in the comments below:
Would Bobby Bowden end up with more or less national championships if there was a four-team playoff during his era?