@MrSEC She routinely visits NFL teams and major CFB games, speaking to players, coaches & management. She isn't in sports for fandom.
The addition of Condoleezza Rice to the new college football playoff selection committee is being widely hailed as a genius move. At this point — as Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com points out — no one can dare question the intelligence of any of those selected to be on the most-powerful panel in the history of college football:
“After reviewing the names of the 12 named to date, one word comes to mind: unassailable. This isn’t a sports committee, it’s a presidential cabinet. Rice is part of it. So is (ex-Stanford coach Tyrone) Willingham. Even in football coaching absentia, he projects an air of authority, knowledge and trust. So do Archie Manning, USC’s Pat Haden, Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez and Tom Osborne.
There’s a retired lieutenant general who was superintendent of the Air Force Academy. How do you ask Michael Gould, a man who has spent a life training men to go to war, why Boise State didn’t get in?
As national security adviser, Rice spent part of her life outscheming terrorists. It seems almost inappropriate chatting her up on how Alabama outschemed Georgia.
You see what the BCS commissioners — oops, now called the Management Committee — have done here, right? They’ve made what projects to be the most powerful body in amateur athletics Teflon. I’m sure there will be tough questions to ask these people in the future I’m just not sure how to ask them. After reading the roster, football just doesn’t seem important.”
That, of course, is the problem with putting non-football people — like Rice — on the panel. “Football doesn’t seem important.”
But point out that fact as former Auburn coach Pat Dye did yesterday and you’ll be labeled a chauvinist. That’s where CBSSports.com’s Tom Fornelli went when he heard these comments from Dye:
“All she knows about football is what somebody told here. Or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television. To understand football, you’ve got to play with your hand in the dirt.
I love Condoleezze Rice and she’s probably a good statesman and all of that, but how in the hell does she know what it’s like out there when you can’t get your breath and it’s 110 degrees and the coach asks you to go some more?”
Yeah. Maybe that’s what he meant. Or maybe he meant Rice has never had a thing to do with football and is just a fan. Which is the case. Aside from the fact she served in the George W. Bush administration — and half the country would view that as a negative rather than a positive — what football clout can she boast other than being a mega-fan?
Any of you fans out there want to be on the new playoff selection committee? Put your hands down. You’re not getting an invite because you’re not “Condi.”
Before someone hurls the chauvinist tag at me, let me give you the name of a women whose infinitely more qualified than Rice to be on the panel. Try ESPN play-by-play announcer Beth Mowins. She’s been calling college football games for the four-letter network since 2005. She’s met with coaches and talked pigskin with them during pre-game production meetings. That’s more of a qualification than fandom.
Don’t want a media member — especially an ESPN’er — on the committee? Then how ’bout Debbie Yow? Since 1994 she’s been an athletic director at Maryland and now NC State. If you hire and fire football coaches for a living — even if you do it poorly — you’re more qualified than Joe Sixpack to be on the panel.
The issue with Rice isn’t that she’s a woman. It’s that no other fan has been asked to take part.
Gould, the former superintendent at the Air Force Academy? He’s at least overseen a school, which in part means overseeing a football program. Former NCAA executive Tom Jerenstedt? He served on college basketball’s tournament selection committee so he can provide some inside-the-room tips to the new panel on how best to do their jobs.
Everyone, it seems, has some reason for being on the panel (even if Gould’s is a stretch). Everyone except for Rice who appears to be a PR-driven choice. No one’s saying she’s not brilliant, but I wouldn’t look at her resume and hire her to work on my car. She served her country and deserves credit for doing so, but that’s no more a qualification for serving on a football selection panel than being a world champion arm wrestler would be.
She’s a fan. There are more qualified women who could have been tabbed to take part in this one.
Laughably, Fornelli writes: “… I’m of the opinion that if Rice could be trusted to make decisions that not only affected the United States, but the world in general, as Secretary of State, she can probably handle picking four college football teams to compete in a playoff.”
If that’s the criteria for joining the committee then dial up Nancy Pelosi, Dick Chaney, the nation’s best heart surgeon and some NASA scientists. Pelosi and Chaney have made decisions that have impacted the nation and the world. Surgeons and rocket scientists clearly have the brains to “handle picking four college football teams to compete in a playoff” too.
Now, Dye’s suggestion that the committee only be made up of people who played with their “hand in the dirt?” Well, that’s a silly one. Having worked in the media for 20 years I can tell you that playing the game doesn’t guarantee wise thinking. If it did, every ex-football player should have the same opinion on every football-related subject. Their insider knowledge should lead them all to draw the same conclusions. It doesn’t.
But Dye’s right — even if he sounds like a curmudgeon — about Rice not having any connection whatsoever to the game. Not as an AD, a coach, a university president (or academy superintendent), or a media member who’s covered the game for years. She’s a fan. And though she might be the smartest darned fan in the country, there’s no reason that her fandom should qualify her for the selection committee over some of the intelligent fans reading this site right now.
I, personally, am a fan of Rice. She’s intelligent and witty. She even spoofed herself on an episode of “30 Rock” and anyone who pokes fun at her own image gets a thumbs-up from me. But former president Bill Clinton is also witty, intelligent and a huge sports fan. Seventy percent of Americans still have a favorable view of the man. I like him, too.
But I wouldn’t put him on the selection committee any more than I would Rice.
It’s not about sex, color, national origin or creed. It’s about having some tie, some inside knowledge of college football or how a football program is run. Rice doesn’t have that. There are more qualified people out there.
SIDENOTE — Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde suggests that Rice is just as qualified as ex-players, ex-coaches, ex-ADs and ex-conference commissioners. Forde is wrong on this one. And again, it has bupkes to do with Rice’s gender.