The College Football Playoff folks could probably drive Condoleezza Rice over to where Texas Stadium stood and have her pose in a three-point stance Wednesday and not silence every critic.
The world officially learns the identity of the selection committee for the first major-college playoff in 2014, although the names became common knowledge last week through media reports.
Rice, the former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, immediately became the focal point for people with concerns with the committee.
“All she knows about football is what somebody told her, or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television,” former Auburn coach Pat Dye told Birmingham, Ala., radio station WJOX last week. “To understand football, you’ve got to play with your hand in the dirt.”
ESPN’s David Pollack questioned Rice’s qualifications as well and was called out by Fox’s Erin Andrews.
Bottom line: Rice, with a Ph. D in political science, decades of experience in world diplomacy and a lifelong love of football, is perfectly qualified. The committee duties don’t include formulating a Saban-esque game plan for the title game.
It’s about picking the top four teams in the country and utilizing the criteria, not whether an O-lineman is vulnerable to a bull rush.
The playoff has already spelled out what the committee will look at in broad terms: conference championships, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and results against common opponents (without incentivizing margin of victory). Injuries will be considered, too.
First-hand playing and coaching experience is important but not the only factor.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive got high marks as chairman of the NCAA Division I basketball committee, and the former Dartmouth lacrosse player hasn’t posted up anyone in a long time.
Current Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby also was praised for overseeing the selection of teams for March Madness, and he spent Midwest winters engaged in another sport.
Good people ask smart questions and get solutions.
Barring any surprises today, the committee composition looks solid. Maybe another former coach wouldn’t be bad. R.C. Slocum would have been a good choice, and he would have provided a Texan on the committee, which is a bit of an omission.
THE POSSIBLE BAKER’S DOZEN
c Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin AD: As a coach, he built Wisconsin football, taking the Badgers to three Rose Bowls and winning all of them. Known for speaking his mind, which could be a mixed blessing.
c Pat Haden, Southern Cal AD: No complaints here — national championship winning quarterback at Southern Cal, Rhodes Scholar, attorney, college football broadcaster. Oh, and he fired Lane Kiffin, too.
c Tom Jernstedt, one-time NCAA executive: Played a significant role in the growth of March Madness in terms of teams, popularity and cash. He understands how a committee should work.
c Jeff Long, Arkansas AD: The first committee chairman has held administrator posts at schools in the Big 12 (Oklahoma), Big Ten, Big East, Atlantic Coast and now SEC. Handled the Bobby Petrino mess about as well as possible.
c Oliver Luck, West Virginia AD: Let’s see — star college quarterback, lawyer, athletic director. Yeah, there’s a little bit of a pattern. Bigger question: Will he still be at West Virginia when the playoff starts? The early front-runner to replace DeLoss Dodds at Texas.
c Archie Manning, former Ole Miss and NFL QB: Maybe the most iconic football figure on the committee, an SEC legend and the patriarch of the Manning quarterback dynasty.
c Tom Osborne, former Nebraska coach: Not the Big 12’s biggest fan but a Hall of Fame football coach and former U.S. representative who brings a traditional perspective.
c Dan Radakovich, Clemson AD: Aggressive reputation at Georgia Tech — although he didn’t handle an NCAA investigation well. Hired at Clemson in 2012.
c Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State: Hey, if she could hold her own in meetings with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, she should be fine on the committee.
c Mike Tranghese, former Big East commissioner: Interesting choice. Highly respected but also a long-time playoff opponent who must make now making sure the system works.
c Steve Wieberg, former USA Today sports writer: Playoff executive director Bill Hancock suggested a retired media member would be in the mix. It They got a good one.
c Tyrone Willingham, one-time Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington coach: While Willingham didn’t have a great record as a head coach (76-88-1), he carved out a reputation for intelligence and integrity.