Condoleezza Rice still controversial, but for different reason now
October 20, 2013 5:16 PM   Subscribe

The new College Football Playoff's selection committee has been officially unveiled, and it includes revered coaches, revered players (and fathers of revered players), a three-star general and even a college professor you may have heard of.

The mythical college football national championship is unsanctioned by the NCAA, which holds championships for virtually everything besides big-money football. The title of "national champion" used to be awarded by a variety of polls or mathematical formulae that basically boiled down to which team people thought was better (including, on at least one occasion, which team was just the least mediocre). For the past 15 years, the title was (mostly) awarded based on a two-team National Championship Game, determined by an arcane mix of human and computerized polls, including the USA Today Coaches Poll, where people who have a direct personal financial stake in who goes to the championship get to vote.

But two teams leaves out the possibility that more than two teams deserve a shot at the championship (particularly in 2004, when three of the major-conference champions were undefeated, so 12-0 SEC champion Auburn was left out. Starting with the 2014 season, the championship field will expand to four teams and the polls and formulae will be thrown out in favor of a 13-person selection committee, which will likely use the polls as starting points but will not be beholden to them. The decision to put the playoff in the hands of a committee has its good and bad points, but perhaps the most controversial part will naturally be the selection of the human beings who make it up. The second most controversial part was how neutral the group can actually be, and the rules for recusal are featured very highly in any discussion.

The committee will be chaired by Jeff Long, athletic director at the University of Arkansas. Long and most of the committee members were relatively uncontroversial -- at least one coach seems to think that it should only be coaches -- but a couple of people take issue with the inclusion of former Secretary of State and former Provost of Stanford University Condoleezza Rice in particular, and while some were savvy enough to couch it in terms of Rice never having played football, they don't seem to take issue with the two male committee members whose expertise was not won on the field either.

Rice is a well-known football fan -- currently appearing in an NFL ad talking about how she would make sure to watch even while doing Secretary of State things around the world -- but was not one of the few women who have played at any level, nor did she have any official association with the game aside from working at colleges before and after her tenure at Foggy Bottom.
posted by Etrigan (16 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think putting her on the committee is a bad idea for the same reasons that putting Dick Cheney on would be a bad idea. For one, she has no more expertise than any other big-time fan, and for another, she's a war criminal. I guess one mark in her favor is that nobody will hack her pacemaker in the middle of selection meetings.
posted by aaronetc at 7:33 PM on October 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

She was allowed to be Secretary of State without any combat experience (not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily); this seems like extremely small potatoes by comparison.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:47 PM on October 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

She does have experience sending off young men to suffer traumatic brain injury, though.
posted by empath at 8:00 PM on October 20, 2013 [10 favorites]

The NCAA has a nice working model for football playoffs in the FCS. Why they cannot apply this to the next level is ridiculous. I suppose that all the corporations sponsoring bowl games would balk but wouldn't more people watch a playoff in the run towards a national championship than a handful of games most of the nation is too hungover to watch? The chance for a Cinderella to make a run would be enough for me to stay tuned. Say, four Saturdays in row from Thanksgiving weekend towards Christmas, with the championship happening on New Years day. That game would turn into something the size of the Superbowl. Ditch the bowls and get a real playoff system, we're overdue.
posted by Ber at 8:38 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Finding a rooting interest in a story involving the NCAA, sexist assholes, and Condaleeza Rice is like [insert hated college football teams here].
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:50 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, on any given Saturday right? There will be controversy regarding the teams selected and I wonder what is a former Secretary of State doing here. Kissinger must have his phone off the hook.

Adressing one aspect; I've no problem with Condoleeza Rice as a football fan or her opinion as to who should be in the playoffs.

If the metric is that you must have participated is used to exclude valid opinions then we can exclude most sports writers, most theater critics, most music critics, most journalists...

And especially you.
posted by vapidave at 8:57 PM on October 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Interesting fact: she served on the committee to find football coaches from Stanford in 1988 and 1991.

Other interesting fact: her CV is publicly available.
posted by curuinor at 9:09 PM on October 20, 2013

Condoleezza Rice Is Ridiculously Overqualified to Serve on the College Football Playoff Committee

I mean, seriously. How is this anything other than sexism?

/Still a Democrat, but come on.
posted by callmejay at 9:41 AM on October 21, 2013

"Ummm...I believe the title was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'"
posted by kirkaracha at 10:47 AM on October 21, 2013

The biggest problem with the BCS is the over-reliance on polls. Which are based on people's opinions. Which are inherently flawed.

So the solution is a playoff system1... based on people's opinions2. Which are inherently flawed.

These fuckin' idiots.

1. Hooray!
2. Boo!

posted by grubi at 12:15 PM on October 21, 2013

The NCAA has a nice working model for football playoffs in the FCS. Why they cannot apply this to the next level is ridiculous.

This. A million times.
posted by grubi at 12:16 PM on October 21, 2013

The NCAA has a nice working model for football playoffs in the FCS. Why they cannot apply this to the next level is ridiculous.

Mostly, it's the money. Not just the money that the NCAA makes, but the money that floods into the communities around the 35 (and growing) annual bowl games. Fans of power schools plan their winter vacations around the bowls (which is the real reason for the multiple-week pause between the regular season and the bowl season), and the number of them means that virtually every team with six wins goes to a bowl game.

Cutting those 35 postseason games and changing it to a playoff has two major effects. First and foremost is slashing the number of schools whose fans get to go to a bowl game. You're not going to have a 64-team playoff, because that would take seven weeks, and you can't have a playoff season that lasts more than half the length of the regular season. That means you have at most 32 teams participating (FCS has 20), which chops the bowl games in half at best. That's a lot of alumni who don't get to go to games in December anymore.

And then you have the opposite problem: now you have to get the fans of one school to come to multiple games, most of which will be scheduled on one week's notice. There's a reason that FBS schools lock their regular season schedules down years in advance and minimize their away games to within one (mostly) geography-based conference -- so Joe Alabama can drive from Tuscaloosa to Gainesville on Friday night and be ready for the Tide to play the Gators on Saturday, then drive back on Sunday and go back to work.

But let's take the multiple pots of money out of the equation (as if). You still have to winnow the 120 FBS schools down to a reasonable number. There are 11 FBS conferences (for purposes of this discussion and all other purposes, fuck Notre Dame). Say we only take those 11 conference champions. Does anyone care to argue that the second-place teams in the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 aren't generally going to be better than the champions of the Sun Belt, C-USA and Mountain West? So you need some sort of at-large entrant scheme (which FCS does as well), which will necessarily be either human-driven or so easily gamed (by schools that stand to make millions of dollars by getting into the playoffs) as to be useless.

So let's take it all a step further and say that we're going to burn the whole thing down and reorganize top-level college football from the ground up so it's easier to make a playoff system. That entails telling a lot of schools that they just don't get to play in the big leagues anymore, and that is not what the NCAA or most of the schools themselves want to do.

There is never going to be an uncontroversial NCAA Division I-A/FBS/AQ/whatever they call it championship system. There's just too much money and too many impassioned fanbases involved.
posted by Etrigan at 1:12 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's why I'm kind of a fan of this proposed regionally-based promotion/relegation AND playoff system.

(Also discussed here and here.)
posted by grubi at 3:20 PM on October 21, 2013

I would love that, too, but it is never going to happen. There is entirely too much money to be made at the highest levels for anyone to agree on a system that may relegate them.
posted by Etrigan at 4:14 PM on October 21, 2013

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