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Commentary: Condoleezza Rice qualified for role on football selection committee

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks to the delegation at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, Aug. 29, 2012.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks to the delegation at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 29, 2012. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Beginning in 2014, College Football will fall into a new playoff system, where the top four ranked teams will compete in two semifinal games with the winners playing for the National Championship.

The semifinal matchups will be decided by a selection committee, and it will seed the top four teams, as well as some of the lower ranked teams. This will allow the two best teams to play in the championship game, rather than the top two ranked teams. The new selection committee will involve 13 people, some household names and some not — a few selections were unexpected.

The biggest surprise, and somewhat controversial pick, is the addition of former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice is the only female committee member, and a partial reaction to her selection has been negative — but it’s not like we’re living in the progressive age of 2013 or anything.

Women don’t hold high power in the world of men’s sports. Women are still pushing their way into the world of athleticism in general, let alone making their way onto a selection committee with a lot at stake for a lot of people.

ESPN college football analyst David Pollack isn’t keen on the idea of including Rice on the committee, as football is a man’s sport and women don’t know what they’re talking about, or something like that. Pollack created a few seconds of awkward television all but saying he did not think women should be on the committee during College Gameday Oct. 5. He later attempted to amend his comments, via Twitter.

“I want people on the committee that eat, sleep & breathe college football during the season. It has nothing to do with male or female,” Pollack’s tweet read, a few hours after the broadcast was over.

However, the least intelligent criticism is from former Auburn head coach Pat Dye.

“All she knows about football is what somebody told her,” Dye said. “Or what she read in a book, or what she saw on the television. To understand football, you’ve got to play with your hand in the dirt.”

His justification is completely invalid, though, as she’s not the only committee member who hasn’t played the game. Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese and a former football beat writer Steve Wieberg have also not played football at a collegiate level.

The funny thing though, is that Rice knows plenty more about football than most critics would like to admit, which is not new information. In a 2007 interview, Rice told ESPN that she had never missed a Super Bowl, including a time when she was in Israel meeting with officials in Jerusalem.

“I had to wake up at 2 a.m. to see the kickoff,” she said.

It’s obvious she loves and follows the game.

As much as I don’t want to make this into a “We are women, hear us roar” type of thing, it is. I for one, probably know more about football, and most other sports, than many men. Like Rice, I’m proud of what I know — you don’t want to get into an argument with me about whether or not Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Peyton Manning — I’ll win.

She’s equally as qualified as the 12 men she’ll be joining on the committee. She might not have played the game at a high level, and she might not have been a top-notch coach or athletic director, but she certainly knows what she’s talking about. She’s likely to be the voice of reason balancing a room full of testosterone. She’s unquestioningly intelligent. When the top four teams are selected next season, those four teams, and their affiliates, won’t have a bad word to say. It’s all fun and games until your team doesn’t end up where you think it should. I’m talking to you, Pat Dye.

Condi is a smart lady though; she knows what she’s getting herself into. But this is a good thing for women, for sports and for women in sports. The sports world is changing for the better, like it or not.

Rice was the first ever female African-American Secretary of State and the first female National Security Adviser.

Now she’ll add another first.

4 comments

  1. so the woman who LIED about WMDs in iraq and is responsible in part for over 100,000 deaths is not suited to lick my boots when i come in from the barn let alone anything with responsibilities.

  2. Quit being a loon and Kool Aid drinker, we are talking about football which she definitly has shown a real knowledge for that she has been considered for NFL commisioner.

  3. He’s right, she did lie to get us into war and many are now dead because of it. Don’t be so quick to call someone a loon for stating the truth. It makes you look like the kool-aid drinker.

  4. Much like Mike “Cautionary Tale” Tranghese, collegiate athletics is simply not her field of expertise. Her inclusion (along with a few others) undermines the credibility of the committee.

    That’s really all there is to it. Her gender or political career have nothing to do with it.

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