SBD/October 17, 2013/Colleges

Condoleezza Rice Confident Her Experience Will Aid Her On CFP Selection Committee

Stanford's athletic department reported to Rice when she was provost at the school
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last night defended her spot on the 13-person College Football Playoff selection committee, saying her experience in politics lets her bring to the table "decision-making under pressure, decision-making when you have to evaluate information, look at a variety of ways of looking at something, working in a team to try to come up with good decisions." Appearing on ESPN2's "Olbermann," Rice said, "This is a really amazing group of people and they're coming from a diversity of backgrounds, and I think that's really important. ... What's really going to be important is when we get into the room, we are perfectly comfortable questioning each other, looking at the issues from all angles and then coming to decisions. I think I bring a lot of experience in having done that." She noted she was first approached about being on the committee by Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. Rice: "I said, 'Why on Earth would you want me to serve?' He talked about the importance of having people with diverse perspectives. He talked about the importance of being able to make decisions under pressure, and then he talked about the fact that I've actually been a part of the college football system when I was provost at Stanford -- Stanford athletics reported to me." ESPN's Colin Cowherd noted Rice "didn’t lobby for the job" and CFP execs "approached you aggressively." Rice talked to several people in the sport before committing, saying, "I just wanted to have a sense that this was something that the commissioners would really be happy to see take place. So I did my homework a little bit before I said yes" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 10/16).

THE HUMAN LEAGUE: USA TODAY's Scott Gleeson noted Rice is one of three members of the committee "who did not play college football, setting off a debate over whether members must be former players to have credibility." Rice said, "I've been in enough positions to respect people who have different views. Not everyone on the committee has played football. I'm a student of the game, and I believe that I will work very, very hard." Rice, who is the only woman on the committee, "thinks diversity will be beneficial and add a 'human element' that was missing with the BCS" (USA TODAY, 10/17). Rice said, "I'm no stranger to controversy (laughs). Of course, I knew there would be people that said, 'Well, you didn't play football.' That would be true, but not everybody that's been associated with this game played football. With all due respect to my good friend Roger Goodell, and Paul Tagliabue, I think the most influential commissioner in the history of the NFL was Pete Rozelle. He never played football." She added, "You also want people with a diversity of experiences, people that have had to make decisions and assess information from a wide variety of perspectives. That's why the different experiences and backgrounds people will bring on this committee are also important" (SI.com, 10/16). She noted that she was "told 'diversity of experience' and the ability to make 'critical judgments' were a key part of her being selected" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/17). Rice when asked whether she was leading the way for other women in football said, "I don’t feel that I’m carrying a banner for anyone, except those of us who love college football. And by the way, that includes a lot of women too" (STANFORD DAILY, 10/17).

GOOD CALL: In New Orleans, Trey Iles reports former Univ. of Georgia AD and football coach Vince Dooley was "somewhat critical of the committee, saying that it could have used more former football coaches." However, he "thought Rice was an outstanding choice." Dooley said that Rice has "spoken before many college athletic groups and always impresses them." Dooley: "There is nobody I respect more both as a educator and person. She has a keen interest in college football. Wonderful addition to the committee" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 10/17). In San Jose, Mark Purdy asks of Rice, "What's a more critical task? Analyzing global security data as a presidential cabinet member? Or analyzing statistical records on whether LSU or Clemson might be the fourth-best team in the country?" The committee's other members also "dripped of intelligence and integrity, so no one should complain about their appointments except cheating programs" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/17).

FRESH PERSPECTIVE: ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson asked, "Is football ready for a woman? It has to be." The CFP committee had "every opportunity to nominate an acting female athletic director" like NC State AD Debbie Yow or Cal AD Sandy Barbour ahead of Rice. That might have "muted or eliminated the initial outcry altogether." Choosing Rice "over a more established woman in the NCAA is a concern to some." The committee "might have been looking for outside voices to bring another viewpoint into the room" (ESPN.com, 10/16). Rice said as Secretary of State she "learned to ask difficult questions.” Rice: “You learn to work with other people to try to come to good decisions (and) you learn to weigh evidence." Rice added, "I recognize the importance of teamwork in something like this." Rice said before being contacted by Scott, "it was not on my radar." Rice said the committee members "take this responsibility of trying to represent college football as a whole, not individual institutions, but obviously the committee will have to consider how we want to treat people who have obviously very close relationships with a specific team that might be under consideration. I'll leave that to our deliberations." Rice said she "would not have taken this on if I didn't believe I could commit the time that is needed and I will commit as much time as needed because it's important we get this right" (CAMPUSINSIDERS.com, 10/16).

RICE NOT THE ONLY CRITICIZED PICK: In Colorado Springs, Brent Briggeman notes the inclusion of former Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould on the committee, "given his limited experience in a hands-on role in college football, has been scrutinized nationally along with that of Rice." Gould was nominated by Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson. Committee Chair and Arkansas AD Jeff Long said of Gould and Rice, "They're both obviously people who have made decisions under scrutiny. They'll both be great committee members" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 10/17).
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