The College Football Playoff Selection Committee released its most recent rankings on Tuesday. Early each week, the twelve members* fly to Dallas to review, debate and rank the teams based on the previous weekend’s NCAA contests. For years, critics of the computerized BCS system complained about the lack of an eye test to distinguish one big win from another – is it possible for a computer to really tell how tight that Alabama – LSU game was or how TCU continues to amaze us with their inspired play? All of that should be covered now with the committee checking out the full games from kickoff to final whistle.
There were other complaints, though, mainly about Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s spot on the committee. Opponents voiced concerns about Rice’s lack of on-the-field experience, although she’s not the only member of the group who hasn’t played the game competitively. She was intelligent enough to handle the role of Secretary of State of the United States but she’s not smart enough to understand college football? That makes no sense. The argument rang hollow.
In last year’s interview with Stewart Mandel of SI.com, Professor Rice addressed the issue head on:
“ At Stanford, athletics actually reports for its operations to the provost — so athletic facilities, athletic budgets, issues of compliance. I actually hired Ty Willingham to be Stanford’s football coach after Bill Walsh stepped down [in 1994]. 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,” said Rice.
“So I’ve been at this for a long time from the inside administration of the game, but I’m also someone who is a student of the game and loves the game, and I’m so excited to be a part of college football … I’ll do everything I can to put in the work to be as fair as humanly possible.”
The drama over Rice’s selection has settled down. She fits right in with the group and the focus is now on the teams, where it should be. The criticism of her role does lead to the next natural question: where do women belong in the game? Is there a comfortable spot for ladies who love sports in leadership roles instead of only cheering or showing up for pink games? Certainly, there is. Besides, their money is already in the bag.
“There are over 49 million female NFL fans in the US.”
According to a 2013 Nielsen Scarborough Sports Marketing report, 39 percent of college football fans are female. Another report found that there are “49 million female NFL fans in the US, which is roughly 50% of the adult female population in this country.” With women tuning in and buying their own tickets in greater numbers than ever before, the inclusion of women in powerful sports positions makes good business sense.
Additionally, many of the young players come from single parent households. It stands to reason that the game will only benefit from having more mothers become as educated about the game as possible. Rice’s role on the committee encourages women to assert themselves and trust that they, too, can understand the whole game. If you think for one second that a Y-chromosome enables men to know that game better, don’t be fooled.
That said, it’s a perfect time to get deeper into football. There’s less than a month to go before the top four teams are named by December 7th. There are exciting match ups on the schedule like #1 Mississippi State v. #5 Alabama this weekend which could be a big game changer. #2 Oregon and #3 Florida State look to be locks, but #4 TCU will push to play lights out football in order to keep their frog legs wrapped around that last playoff position. No doubt, Dr. Rice and her colleagues will evaluate each game objectively and do right by all of the teams.