Condoleezza Rice has handled world-class cavemen like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Muammar Gaddafi with aplomb. You think she'd worry about David Pollack hurting her feelings?
In not so many words but clearly implied, Pollack commented on ESPN's College GameDay that Rice in particular, and women in general, do not belong on the College Football Playoff committee. Via Zac Ellis of Sports Illustrated:
“Now I’m going to stick my foot in my mouth, probably,” Pollack said. “I want people on this committee, guys, that can watch tape, yes, that have played football, that are around football, that can tell you different teams, on tape, not on paper–”
“So no woman belongs on the committee, then?” said [Chris] Fowler.
“You said that … I’ll say it, yeah. Yeah,” said Pollack.
The 12- to 18-person panel is expected to be formed by the end of this season and will be tasked in determining the participants of the four-team playoff starting in the 2014 season.
Rice, the former secretary of state under President George W. Bush, is reported to be on the committee, among a dozen names leaked this week that also included USC athletic director Pat Haden and the patriarch of the Manning family, Archie. It's an eclectic collection of people, and it reflects not just diversity in the conventional sense, but also diversity in thought.
For that, Rice's selection—very much like her inclusion as one of the first two women members of Augusta National—should be lauded, not derided.
Never mind that Rice never played football: This would be the stupidest but the most favorite dismissal used by the cognoscenti of jockocracy. If this line of thinking had any validity, then Matt Millen would've made for a brilliant football executive, and Mike Leach, Charlie Weis and George O'Leary should never be allowed to coach football since they never played the sport past high school—if at all.
If anything, the BCS era has proved that entrusting the selection of the top two teams to only football "experts" is fraught with peril and error. Beginning in 2004, the selection became heavily influenced by the human element as the polls accounted for two-thirds of the standings. By the end of the BCS era, it's apparent that this methodology is deeply flawed.
The focal point of the BCS standings, after '05, became the 170-odd members of the Coaches and Harris poll voters, and they were subject to considerable lobbying influences at the end of the season. In 2006, they snubbed Michigan in favor of Florida for the No. 2 spot after an SEC championship game on CBS that practically served as a three-hour infomercial for the Gators.
The logic in '06 was that there should not have been a rematch between teams from the same conference since No. 1 Ohio State has already beaten Michigan. Yet, in 2011, the voters opted to keep Alabama No. 2 even though the Tide had already lost to No. 1 LSU in the regular season and failed to win their division, let alone the conference championship.
A regular scanning of Coaches and Harris polls reveals just how little the voters pay attention. The coaches obviously can't be bothered to follow even some of the games with great interest since they have a job to do themselves. As for the haphazard nature of the Harris voters, with its high number of football "retirees"...who knows how many of them are hunting and fishing on Saturdays instead of watching games on TV?
The best thing about the end of the BCS era is that we'll be doing away with these polls. But if the polls are simply replaced by like-minded individuals but in much smaller numbers, then College Football Playoff would not be much of an improvement over its predecessor. Based on the initial leak of the list, however, there's at least reason to be optimistic.
Besides Rice, Manning and Haden—a former NFL quarterback and a Rhodes scholar—these are the other reported names on the committee:
- Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin athletic director
- Jeff Long, Arkansas athletics director
- Oliver Luck, West Virginia athletics director
- Dan Radakovich, Clemson athletics director
- Lt. Gen. Michael Gould (Ret.), former Air Force Academy superintendent
- Tom Osborne, former Nebraska athletic director
- Tyrone Willingham, former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington coach
- Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive vice president
- Mike Tranghese, former Big East commissioner
- Steve Wieberg, former sportswriter at USA Today
All five major conferences are now represented, and BCS and CFP executive director Bill Hancock says the list will be finalized shortly. The names on the reported list obviously have a wealth of football knowledge, but many of them also have experiences outside of football—as in law, business, broadcasting and, of course, government.
Rice, who once mentioned that her dream job is to be NFL commissioner, is a noted football aficionado who has connections to both Notre Dame (where she earned her masters degree) and Stanford (where she was provost). Now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor in the Graduate School of Business, Rice is frequently enlisted by coach David Shaw in helping to recruit the best and brightest to play football for Stanford.
Does Rice know enough about football to make an educated choice—or argument—for college football's Final Four? Whose intellect do you have more confidence in, Rice's or David Pollack's?
Or maybe Pollack simply as a crush on Rice. Like Gaddafi.