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Sports & Fitness // Hot Air
Steve Murray

Rice Qualified, Others Not So Much

One has to be seriously accomplished and well thought of to not only survive one of the most polarizing administrations in history, but to prosper despite it.

Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser for President George W. Bush, left her White House job and immediately joined the CEO short list among organizations seeking politically connected leaders as intelligent as they are experienced. Rice is just such a person.

One doesn’t have to be a fan of her political alliances to recognize the value she brings to an executive board, which is what the College Football Playoff Selection Committee is. Its job is to select the four best FBS teams to play in a national title tournament, and to manage the inevitable disappointment of the schools not included.

That’s hardly an imposing challenge for someone who helped shape issues regarding national defense, terrorism and international trade. Rice also has been on the board for a number of large corporations, including Charles Schwab, Carnegie Corporation, Chevron, Hewlett Packard, the Rand Corporation and Transamerica.

After a long career in academia, business and politics, any suggestion that she isn’t qualified because she has never worn a protective cup is just stupid sexist nonsense.

Rice’s selection wasn’t based on experience alone. With her selection comes a lot of publicity and a good measure of credibility, which College Football Playoff (CFP), which replaced the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), surely needs. The same can’t be said for all the committee members.

Ty Willingham has a lot of experience at the top level of college football, he just wasn’t a very good coach. Willingham managed to win just 76 of 165 games, including a dismal 11-37 finish at University of Washington.

Perhaps the CFP, like its BCS predecessor, needed to appease Notre Dame, and Lou Holtz was unavailable because of his full-time commitment promoting the overrated Catholic university on national airwaves and pissing off broadcast partner Mark May.

The other two former coaches on the committee have unquestioned qualifications. Barry Alvarez won three Rose Bowls at Wisconsin and is the current Badger athletic director. Tom Osbourne won three national titles and 13 conference championships at Nebraska. Later he served in the U.S. Congress, and as the school’s athletic director. His handling of talented dirtbag Lawrence Phillips means he might not qualify to serve on an ethics panel looking into collegiate athletics, but that’s not what this job requires.

Archie Manning is nothing but a celebrity pick.

Manning is in the College Football Hall of Fame and was a good quarterback on some awful Saints teams. He also played a few unre-markable years in Houston and Minnesota, racking up a career record (35-101-3) that makes Willingham look like Bear Bryant.

The CFP wanted a broad representation on the committee, and Manning qualifies as a player representative. But hundreds of others could have filled that role. None, however, matches his success as a sperm donor.

Manning’s post-playing career got a boost when his son Peyton became Peyton Manning – one of the best and most-gifted players in NFL history.

The elder Manning achieved celebrity status when son Eli followed his older brother into NFL and topped his Super Bowl success. Suddenly, Archie was the architect of modern football. His words became sage, and networks clamored to hear what he had to say.

It’s what we do in the media – identify someone with intelligence and the gift for gab, create for them narrowly defined roles until they become caricatures of themselves, and jam them down everyone’s throat.

Tony Dungy is a professorial leader of men, Herman Edwards is Patton in spikes, John Madden the over-exuberant league mascot and Archie Manning the modern-day Prometheus creating quarterbacks from clay.

Overall, the CFP did a good job mixing experience and regional alliances. Where it failed, and where Manning’s role could have been better utilized, is including a former small- or mid-major collegiate athlete such as Jerry Rice, Doug Williams or Kurt Warner. The committee has ties to the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC and Big East. Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, the former superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, represents the military more than the Mountain West, leaving half the conferences without a voice.

That’s the real problem. Having a woman on the committee is not.

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