When college football goes to a much-needed playoff system next year, we are told that a select committee of 12 to 18 experts will choose the four teams that will be invited to the college version of the Super Bowl. But who on earth is choosing the experts? This weekend it was leaked that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be asked to serve on the august group and ESPN sports commentator David Pollack immediately found himself in hot water after questioning her selection on the air.
“Now I’m going to stick my foot in my mouth, probably,” Pollack said on Saturday’s College GameDay program. “(but) 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...”
Pollack, who starred at Georgia as a player, immediately had some on the show, and who were watching, call him out. “So no woman belongs on the committee, then?” interjected host Chris Fowler and Pollack didn’t back down. “You said that … I’ll say it, yeah. Yeah.”
Miss Rice, undeniably a great American icon and a wonderful statesman, is just perfect in her present role as a political science professor at Stanford but Pollack, who is equally adept on ESPN, obviously prefers the truth over political correctness. Later in the day he tweeted, “I want people on the committee that eat, sleep & breathe college football during the season. It has nothing to do with male or female.”
ESPN reported yesterday that Ms. Rice is indeed one of those who have been selected. The others include former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning, former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Gould (the former Air Force Academy superintendent), and former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, who worked with the basketball tournament selection committee.
Also chosen, according to ESPN sources, are former Nebraska athletic director and coach Tom Osborne, Tyrone Willingham, the former football coach at Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington, former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, athletic directors Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin, Jeff Long of Arkansas, Oliver Luck of West Virginia, and Dan Radakovich of Clemson. Steve Wieberg, a longtime former sportswriter at USA Today, will be a media representative.
Go back and study those names. There is an old saying that if you can’t spot the sucker at a poker table, then it is probably you. So while it has nothing to do with sex or race, any of us can identify the one person who has no business being included on such a committee. That isn’t mean-spirited or biased; it is the simple truth.
Last year Ms. Rice and businesswoman Darla Moore became the first two female members of Augusta National Golf Club. They both wore their green jackets, are active golfers, and greatly enjoy being included. But let’s recognize the Masters deal for what it is – big cats who like flaunting themselves in public and doing little else than rubbing elbows one weekend a year.
In my way of thinking, there is nothing wrong with having a female or even more women on the committee if they are qualified. Perhaps the most respected is Sally Jenkins, the longtime sports columnist for the Washington Post who just helped Pat Summitt write her best-seller, “Sum It Up.” Christine Brennan is an award-winning USA Today sports columnist and Bonnie Bernstein of “Campus Insiders” is good. So is Jackie MacMullan when she appears on “Around the Horn.” There are some other women who could add to the committee, too, but spare us the sideline cupcakes. Mercy.
The truth is that Condi Rice – no matter how much we admire her – has little to warrant being on a college football committee, other than she was born in Birmingham where the game is popular and defied great odds, as many of today’s college players have done, to get where she is today.
Selecting four teams for the 2014 playoffs is going to be a lot harder than we may imagine. Look at the Top 10 teams in America and seven are unbeaten. The other three – Georgia, Texas A&M and LSU – each have one loss because another Top 10 SEC team flexed its muscle. Could Georgia beat Florida State or can Alabama stop Oregon? Those questions have tough answers and college football deserves the best experts to decide.
In my way of thinking, all political correctness does is muddle the situation, just like it does in everything else that is true and good and pure.