Playoff Committee: a political football?

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 9.44.52 PMAs word leaked about the selection of the NCAA Football Playoff Selection Committee, there was the predictable debate over who should or should not have been included.

The main controversy centered on former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice being among the 13 appointees who will determine the four teams to meet in the 2014 semi-finals.

The national championship game will be played Jan. 12, 2015, with Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the likely site.

Pat Dye, former Auburn coach, said of Rice:  “All she knows about football is what somebody told her.”

Gene Stallings, who was head coach at Alabama and Texas A&M, said on Tim Brando’s show on CBS Sports Network:  “I’m getting a little concerned about getting some people on this committee who are not as qualified as I would like to see to make the decisions.  . . .  Unless you’ve coached a little, it’s sort of hard to analyze a team.”

This might be a shock to all the media reporters who vote in the Associated Press poll.   It echoes the putdowns sports writers forever have heard from athletes:  If you haven’t played the game you can’t know about it.

But the selection process, primarily the work of BCS Director Bill Hancock, was not just about football.  It may have been a lot about politics.  And political correctness.

Most football fans will recognize committee members Archie Manning, Tom Osborne, Barry Alvarez and Pat Haden.  Stallings has no problem with Manning, though he never coached.

But Tom Jernstedt?  Not much football.  He’s known for running the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Of course, it’s good for somebody here to know about playoffs.  But Mike Gould?  Retired general.  Gotta make sure the troops are represented.

As for Rice, she’s now a professor at Stanford University and is frequently seen at football games there and elsewhere.  And a good diplomat could be useful when the men start arguing about football.  And perhaps it’s good to have a woman’s input into this sport.

Houston Nutt, football coach-turned TV analyst, said of Rice:  “Here’s a lady who’s very intelligent and has been in a lot of meetings.”

Said Manning:  “Condoleeza Rice does know her football.”

Brando called the Rice appointment “the hot button topic.  When someone questions the level of qualification I understand that’s the elephant in the room.”

But Brando also cites negatives in football coaches:  “There’s a belief among some administrators that old coaches might carry a bias deep in their core that they’ll never get over.”

And Nutt agreed:  “I’m sure that deep down inside they can’t help it.”

Brando sees Rice as a key contributor:  “I think she represents the outside-the-box nominee to play the role of arbitrator.  If there’s an argument over who is number four and who is number five, who would be better at arbitrating that?”

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