Missed Opportunity: Tate Rodemaker’s Robbery of a Historic Moment

Florida State lost that $2 million difference in potentially earned revenue between a $6 million ACC payout in the event of reaching the College Football Playoff versus the $4 million they will be awarded for playing UGA in the Orange Bowl.

A whole era of Super Bowls and national champions has been written by backup quarterbacks. The committee tasked with choosing the National College Football Playoff finalists should have been more mindful of the human element when they eliminated the possibility of Florida State advancing after Jordan Travis got injured. Moreover, they should have assessed Tate Rodemaker’s future differently. By making a critical decision for him, they deprived Rodemaker of an opportunity to join the ranks of backup quarterbacks who have dismantled expectations. Imagine a scenario similar to Rodemaker’s in the past. If, three weeks before the end of the season, Miami had been declared the indisputable national champions after an injury sidelined Washington’s Mark Brunell, it would have been unjust.

One of Rodemaker’s issues is his lack of pedigree. If he were a former five-star recruit, Florida State might have cut him more slack. But, in the limited playing time he had, Rodemaker performed well. For instance, a year ago, soon after Travis was incapacitated, Rodemaker guided Florida State to three touchdowns in a remarkable second-half comeback against Louisville.

There are various ways to win a national championship. Florida State did not need 2014 Cardale Jones throwing for an entire season’s worth of yardage in one half, like he did against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. All they needed was a performance similar to First Team ACADEMIC All-American Craig Krenzel in 2002. Florida State is too talented to require an All-Universe starter to defeat two competitors at the upper echelon.

In the NFL, where it is even harder to conceal subpar quarterbacks than in college, Nick Foles, Jeff Hostetler, and Trent Dilfer have all won Super Bowls after being understudies for the majority of the season.

Dilfer took over an Ravens offense that suffered a drought of five matches without a touchdown, completed fewer than half of his passes in the postseason, and admitted he resembled a high school quarterback at practices. When Carson Wentz tore his ACL in Week 17 of the 2017 season, Nick Foles took the reins and etched his name in Philadelphia sports history. He led the Eagles’ offense to a 41-33 victory over New England in the Super Bowl. Jeff Hostetler, who replaced Phil Simms halfway through the Giants’ 1990 season, then defeated the Buffalo Bills in the Wide Right Super Bowl.

Warner went from being a career backup to developing a Hall of Fame career in his late 20s. According to the college football playoff committee, these achievements should not have been determined on the field; they should have been discreetly washed off in a smoke-filled room. Tom Brady, who replaced Drew Bledsoe in 2001, became a solid game manager, but nowhere close to the GOAT he would become over the next 20 years.

Generations from now, people would look back at the four-team playoff era and be reminded of early 20th-century elections without primaries. During Florida State’s 19-game winning run, they have outscored their opponents 734-316. Their defense stifled Louisville, who averaged 33 points a game. Broqk Joe Hobert’s contribution to Washington’s NCAA was remarkable.

Brock Purdy started slow as a third-string quarterback but has since thrived with the San Francisco 49ers. In light of these achievements, the playoff committee’s attempt to predict the performance of a 21-year-old after a month of preparation seems flawed.