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Perception and Personnel Matters: Lessons from Florida State's Exclusion from the College Football Playoff

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The exclusion of the undefeated ACC Champion Florida State University Seminoles from the college football playoff has sparked a significant debate. This decision marks the first time an unbeaten Power 5 conference champion has been denied an opportunity to compete for the national championship in the college football playoff era. While the ramifications of this decision are evident within the world of sports, there are valuable lessons that higher education institutions and other organizations can learn from this situation. This article explores two primary lessons: the importance of perception and the significance of personnel.Dr. Marcus BrightDr. Marcus Bright

Perception Matters

One striking observation from Florida State's exclusion is the heavier weight given to style points and subjective judgments over the substance of their on-field performance. The selection committee's emphasis on passing "the eye test" suggests that subjective perceptions and narratives played a significant role in the decision-making process. This underscores the importance of managing public perception and marketing efforts, as they can influence how an organization is perceived and evaluated. Doing a good job alone may not be enough; showcasing positive accomplishments and promoting narratives that market an institution or organization can help foster favorable perceptions. In the case of Florida State, influential analysts and prognosticators touted the narrative that the team did not deserve a spot in the playoffs due to the loss of their star quarterback, Jordan Travis. The argument that the team was not the same without their injured leader gained traction, overshadowing their undefeated record. This highlights how external opinions and narratives can carry more weight than actual game results. It serves as a reminder that organizations must be aware of the narratives being shaped around them and take proactive steps to promote their strengths and achievements.

Personnel Matters

Florida State's exclusion also sheds light on the importance of personnel, recruitment, and depth within an organization. Florida State’s last two games against Florida and Louisville showed a dramatic fall in the level of quarterback play from where Jordan Travis was to performance that was put forth by second string quarterback Tate Rodemaker and third string quarterback Brock Glenn.

The mediocre to poor level of Florida State backup quarterback is inexcusable in the era of the transfer portal where a program can acquire high level personnel from other schools without them having to sit out a year. This situation serves as a reminder that personnel and depth matter significantly, not just in sports but in various organizational contexts. Whether it's in a college or university, corporation, or agency, having succession plans in place and cultivating capable individuals who can step up and perform in critical positions is essential. Recruitment efforts should prioritize quality personnel, and ongoing development programs must ensure their readiness to fill crucial roles when necessary. The exclusion of the Florida State football team, despite meeting all the required criteria, emphasizes the importance of perception and personnel within organizations. The heavy reliance on subjective judgments and narratives over on-field performance brings attention to the need for organizations to actively manage their public image and market their achievements. Furthermore, the reliance on star players without adequate backup options highlights the significance of personnel planning and development. Higher education institutions and other organizations can learn valuable lessons from this situation and apply them to foster positive perceptions and build robust personnel frameworks, ultimately enhancing their overall success.

Dr. Marcus Bright is an author and social impact professional.

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