Condoleezza Rice’s Role on CFP Committee Encourages Women Football Fans

Fan Info, Football — By on November 12, 2014 at 10:17 AM

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, 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.”

Dr. Condoleezza Rice has always loved football.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s passion for football is well-documented. Navy v. Notre Dame in 2008.

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.




  1. I think it’s also good to have a woman in a leadership role, given the struggle that Pro football is having with how players treat women. I’d like to see one of those guys try to look Dr. Rice in the eye!

  2. Mia Jackson says:

    That would certainly be an interesting discussion. As Dr. Rice said once in a hearing,
    “I will welcome your opinions, but not your uninformed ones.”

  3. Genita says:

    I think Dr. Rice was the Smart choice for the committee as she has passion and love for the game of football.

  4. SidelinePass1 says:

    Yes! Her passion for the game and her knowledge make her a great choice.

  5. NOLA_Darling says:

    Rice has played the same role in NCAA football, that Dan Snyder and Tom Benson play in the NFL—hiring and firing (although the latter has been rare at Stanford because they’ve consistently been pretty good at the former), approving budgets, etc. Moreover, she plays this role for over a dozen college sports teams at a school that has won 105 NCAA Division I team championships (only UCLA has a better record with 111), and tops the list with 560 combined team and individual championships.

    Since I doubt few people would question allowing Snyder, Benson or any other NFL team owner—with the exception of maybe Mark Davis or Jimmy Haslam—to be involved in evaluating games to rank teams for playoff spots, why is Rice’s involvement on the CFP committee even being questioned?

    As for her never playing the game, how many of the men judging gymnastics and figuring skating events have actually competed in those sports?

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