College football’s Bowl Championship Series is finally going away, much to the chagrin of absolutely no one.
Instead, starting next season, the college football national champion will be determined by a playoff, and we’ll have a selection committee of 12-18 humans to trash when we don’t like the outcome, instead of a computer algorithm no one understands. One of said humans is former secretary of state, and avowed Cleveland Browns fan Condoleezza Rice.
So far, the former national security advisor is the only woman on the College Football Playoff committee, and former Auburn coach Pat Dye thinks her presence there is a terrible idea.
“All she knows about football is what somebody told her,” Dye said this week on Birmingham radio station WJOX . “Or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television. To understand football, you’ve got to play with your hand in the dirt.
“I love Condoleezza Rice and she’s probably a good statesman and all of that but how in the hell does she know what it’s like out there when you can’t get your breath and it’s 110 degrees and the coach asks you to go some more?”
What he really means is that Rice, with her delicate little lady brain and her little lady hands (classically trained piano-playing hands, I might add) couldn’t possibly be qualified to look at college football teams and decipher that one is better than the other based on records, statistics and strength of schedule.
You know. Because she’s a lady.
Football has historically been a giant boys’ club, and grumpy old sexists like Dye are desperately – and thankfully, unsuccessfully – clinging to this last bit of NO GIRLS ALLOWED exclusivity.
This is hooey. I know it, just like every woman who’s ever covered sports knows it. Natalie Randolph, head football coach at Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C., knows it, too. Rice is obviously an intelligent woman and she’s interested in football. As much as some like to think it’s rocket science, it’s not. It’s chess, but faster, with 250-lb men crashing into each other and getting concussions (sorry, NFL).
Randolph erupted when she heard Dye’s comments and quickly walked through the Refrigerator Perry-size holes in his argument.
“You got these fat, short dudes that obviously haven’t played anything, and they get up there on TV and talk about anything,” Randolph said in a telephone interview. “They comment and they get it wrong, and no one ever says anything about them.”
She continued: “What does that have to do with the playoffs? That has nothing to do with playoffs. It’s not 110 degrees in playoffs! That’s preseason … It’s obvious he’s objecting because she’s a woman. He’ll never admit it. It’s everywhere you go. What are you going to do?”
At the very least, Dye could have come up with something more creative than, “She’s never played football,” which is the same tired line men used to trot out for years when arguing against female play-by-play or color commentators.
Ok, so they’ve tweaked it slightly. ESPN’s David Pollack is leaning on “she’s never watched game tape.”
“I want people on this committee that can watch tape,” Pollack said. “That have played football, that are around football, that can tell you different teams on tape, not on paper.”
Let’s let Coach Randolph handle this one, too:
“It’s the same thing as serving as a guest judge on ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ Those people don’t know how to dance! But they can tell if you’re good or not!
“The bigger point is that you’re only questioning her,” Randolph said. “You’re not questioning the commentators or the media who have never played sports. You know how many high school coaches there are that have never played a down of football? Come on now. Be honest with yourself.”
I wonder if intellectual laziness is enough to get you banned from serving on the selection panel. One can only hope. Perhaps Dye and Pollack should go through a full practice, in pads, with Coach Randolph. It can’t be that difficult. After all, she’s just a lady, right?
According to ESPN, the full committee will consist of former athletic directors, conference commissioners, coaches, and media members. Archie Manning’s been tapped, and so has Tyrone Willingham, who coached football at Stanford, Notre Dame, and the University of Washington. He left college football with a losing record (76-88-1). I don’t hear anyone saying he’s not qualified because he never won a BCS title, and do you know why? Because that would be ridiculous.
Former Air Force Academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Michael Gould is also on the committee. Rice, in addition to being a consummate football fan, was also provost of Stanford University. That’s got to be high enough up the food chain of university muckity-mucks, right?
None of it matters now. She’s on the committee, and I’m sure she’ll do a bang-up job.
And if she doesn’t?
Well. There’s always “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Soraya Nadia McDonald is a Washington Post staff writer.