Condoleezza Rice on the selection committee isn't a terrible idea, as some suggest. Photo: Stanford Daily
The college football playoff selection committee appears to be coming together with some real heavy hitters in the line-up. Reports have linked Barry Alvarez, Pat Haden, Oliver Luck, Archie Manning among those who will be added to the committee charged with the task of selecting the top four teams in the country that will compete in a four-team playoff model to determine college football's national champion starting next season. The reception for just about every name reported so far has largely been supportive, except for one of the more outside-the-box names mentioned, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
During Saturday's broadcast of College GameDay on ESPN, college football analyst David Pollack caught plenty of criticism for alluding to the idea that a woman should not be included on the selection committee. In fact, Pollack's stance was more along the lines of wanting people who eat, breathe and perhaps played football instead of coming out and suggesting he did not think a woman was capable of determining the four best teams in the country. It was Chris Fowler who opened the door for the comment on not having women on the committee, but it was Pollack who did not object to the idea.
Pollack is certainly not alone in questioning Rice's place on any potential committee, whether it is because she is a woman or not, and he clearly will not be the last. Former Auburn head coach Pat Dye was a little more blunt about the news than Pollack, but his voice could have been echoed by any number of college football fans over the past few days.
"All she knows about football is what somebody told her," Dye said on WJOX Monday morning. "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."
In Dye's mind, because Rice never played a down of football, she should automatically be excluded from the selection committee. So Rice is apparently good enough to be able to handle international relations on behalf of the country and advise the president on national security issues, but my goodness don't let her have any say on which four football teams deserve a chance to play for the championship! And besides, it's not as though Rice is the only reported member of the committee not to have played football...
Pat Dye laments Condi Rice not being qualified for Playoff Committee. But he's OK w Mike Tranghese who only played golf at St Michael's?— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) October 7, 2013
My point here is no one is looking at these other non-former football player names & going apeshit. Only her name.— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) October 7, 2013
"I love Condoleezza Rice and she's probably a good statesman and all of that," Dye went on to say. "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?"
The comments got worse. Again, Dye is not alone in his skepticism of including Rice on the committee. Nor is he alone in being short-sighted and a bit sexist in the approach to the reaction.
"Which one she likes the best. Which one's the smoothest talker," Dye said. "The game is played on the field."
We live in a world based on instant sports takes, and is always easy to take the shallow-minded take on any issue. Having a woman so entrenched in politics serve on a college football committee comes off as a huge shock and raises plenty of eye brows. This leads to many suggesting the move is a silly move and an embarrassment. But if you slow down and think about it, and give it a chance to develop, why can't this be considered a wise choice?
I don't know how much football Rice knows or doesn't know. Maybe she is clueless about the sport for all I know. But do I have faith she will take the responsibility with great care and pride? Do I believe Rice will put in whatever time is needed to evaluate the options? Absolutely. I expect that of any member of the selection committee, male or female, football player or cheerleader or band member, from the south or the north or the east or the west. Give me a selection committee that can get in the same room, put as much bias aside as possible and pick the four best teams the way the model demands.
If Rice has been able to have discussions and negotiations with foreign nations, I have faith she will have the integrity needed to figure out who the best four teams in college football are.