Former Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne Defends Condoleezza Rice's Addition to College Football Playoff Selection Committee
Members of the College Football Playoff Selection committee - the organization responsible for choosing the participants that will determine college football's national championship - defended the hiring of former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has had her credentials questioned by former head coaches and media analysts.
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"She is the daughter of a coach," said former University of Nebraska football head coach Tom Osborne, who is a member of the College Football Playoff Selection committee, in a panel discussion at the 2013 IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. "She has been a provost in charge of athletics at Stanford. Obviously, she's a big football fan, and she certainly has been in heated battle. We certainly respect her intelligence."
Former Auburn University head coach, Pat Dye, was very vocal about Rice's placement within the College Football Playoff Selection committee, which will replace the current the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system, saying she is not qualified to help determine which schools should play in college football's new postseason, questioning Rice's knowledge of the game of football.
"All she knows about football is what somebody told her, 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." said Dye during a radio interview. "I love Condoleezza Rice and she's probably a good statesman and all of that 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?"
ESPN analyst David Pollack's criticism went a step further saying, during an October ESPN College Gameday telecast, that no woman belongs on a football selection committee.
Rice, no stranger to controversy after serving a stint as Secretary of State under Pres. George W. Bush, is very self-aware of the criticism against her but says that she is not phased by the backlash against her lack of football acumen.
"Of course, I knew there would be people that said, 'Well, you didn't play football,'" said Rice to SI.com. "That would be true, but not everybody that's been associated with this game played football. With all due respect to my good friend Roger Goodell, and Paul Tagliabue, I think the most influential commissioner in the history of the NFL was Pete Rozelle. He never played football. And so you can be a student of the game, you can love the game and never have experienced playing the game."
Rice, who has said on numerous occasions that her dream job has been to become commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), also points out that while she may have never worn shoulder pads or blitzed a quarterback from his blindside, she does have experience with college football and collegiate athletics during her tenure as Stanford University provost, when the athletic department was under her purview - including handling athletic facility management, the athletic department budget, and NCAA compliance issues.
"I actually hired Ty Willingham to be Stanford's football coach after Bill Walsh stepped down," said Rice to SI.com. "It was actually not the first time I'd been involved in the hiring of a football coach. Back in 1988, I sat on a committee with a very small number of people that hired Denny Green, including doing interviews with all the major finalists, among whom was Pete Carroll, for instance. He was one of the people we had serious interviews with in 1988."
With two other members of the College Football Playoff Selection committee also lacking gridiron experience besides Rice, Osborne noted, during the 2013 IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, that concepts such as differentiating the nuances between a Cover-2 and man-to-man defense can be easily explained to their talented committee members if needed. Committee member Tom Jernstedt, a Collegiate Basketball Hall of Famer who serves as Big East Conference senior adviser (as well as a member of the College Football Playoff Selection committee that also lacks football experience) told the audience that such in-depth knowledge of the game may not be necessary for the playoff selection process.
"Having a balance of individuals involved in a variety of areas makes the group stronger," said Jernstedt.