NGSC Sports

Condolezza Rice’s Appointment to CFB Playoff Committee

In case you missed the big news out of college football this week was the announcement that former Secretary of State Condolezza “Condi” Rice has been named to the College Football Playoff Committee. The full names for the committee have yet to be announced, but she will join USC Athletic Director Pat Haden, Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alverez, and West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck on the committee which is expected to be compromised of 13 members including sitting athletic directors, former coaches, former players, former administrators and at least one journalist.

The committee will decide the four teams that will compete in the newly minted playoff system. ESPN and The Associated Press last week identified the 13 members as Barry Alvarez, Mike Gould, Pat Haden, Tom Jernstedt, Jeff Long, Oliver Luck, Archie Manning, Tom Osborne, Dan Radakovich, Condoleezza Rice, Mike Tranghese, Steve Wieberg and Tyrone Willingham. The announcement should come next week.

Rice is well known to be a football fan and her name was mentioned as a possible Commissioner for the NFL before Roger Goodell was appointed to the spot. Rice of course didn’t have any former experience in sports as she has spent her professional life mostly in government. You can find a good biography of her here. Full disclosure here: I like Condi Rice although I don’t always agree with her politics. She is a savvy smart female who from all appearances does her homework and is always well-prepared. Bill Hancock could certainly do a lot worse and let’s face it probably will as the selection process is ongoing.

The problem of course is that there really is no known criteria for these appointments. Pat Dye has weighed in and like many small minded people expressed his view that those who don’t play the game cannot understand it. Perhaps we should just go back to the kitchen and make him a sandwich? It is a laughable fallacy that a former player is automatically qualified for all things football just because they played the game.

I don’t know whether Rice is qualified because the criteria for selection hasn’t been disclosed and we don’t know what vetting process Hancock and company will use. Rice knows the game and she is certainly bright and articulate and will be well prepared in the selection process. It is doubtful her political connections would help here like it was suggested when her name was mentioned as a possible NFL Commissioner. She brings an outside voice and a presence that is unparalleled. Call me a skeptic but I think you could find disagreement with just about anyone appointed to the Committee.

According to my informal poll of the average college football fan this move isn’t as controversial as you might think. From speaking with fans, the big issue with the playoff system remains the four team system. It isn’t enough and most agree it should be an eight team playoff system. Also, most fans I talked polled didn’t really know who Rice was and didn’t know anything about the Committee or it’s current members. That is certain to change but right now fans seem to be focused on the season and the playoff issue seems remote.

The real issue here appears to be the fact that Rice is a female. Females aren’t supposed to understand the game and aren’t qualified to discuss the issues or have a vote on anything football related. Or so the story goes. It’s a age old concept that is as outdated and tripe as it sounds. Perhaps it’s time for some people to get a clue and recognize that women can be as knowledgeable, and in some cases more so, than men. Your qualifications should’t depend on what is or is not between your legs but what is between your ears.

One female fan I spoke to initially expressed doubt about whether Rice was qualified but went on to state she was glad to see a female voice on the Committee and that Rice would probably be the smartest person appointed. The latter may well be debatable but there won’t be too many appointed who are smarter than Rice or more dedicated to the task.

If the criteria is to appoint bright, committed professionals with understanding of the game who will come to the table well informed then Rice certainly fits the profile. As a woman who identifies with Rice in that aspect, I fully support her addition. It is certainly better than women getting positions in sports based on their looks which is a concept I also fully support.



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