Any Given Saturday, Week 8: Condoleezza Rice Is Overqualified


Condoleezza Rice, the most recognizable black Republican in the nation joined another fraternity she wasn’t welcomed into with open arms. By all accounts, there don’t appear to be any term limits attached to inclusion.

When word leaked that Rice would be a part of this group, the reaction of critics was the equivalent of Clarence Thomas’ polarizing confirmation hearing or Susan Rice’s radioactive Secretary of State nomination.

The prominent (southern) voices that inveighed against Rice’s membership were incensed not because of her race, but because of her gender and their archaic worldviews. If a male-dominated Congress can determine women’s reproductive rights, and Oregon can wear pink then Rice’s intrusion into a man’s world can be excused. I was just discussing her historic Augusta National membership. If you’re starting to get the impression that Rice is displaying signs of oppositional defiance or just a habitual line stepper you might be onto something.

Actually, Rice was officially named to the second-most important cabinet post of her life alongside a dozen other members of college football’s playoff selection committee. Welcome to college football’s Supreme Court.

However, her addition to the playoff selection committee as well as the inflammatory reactions of Pat Dye, Gene Stallings and David Pollack says more about us and them than it does about her penchant for wielding a sledgehammer around with her to smash any glass ceilings she confronts on a daily basis.

The major concern with Rice on the playoff committee should revolve around her potentially digging up the old Bush “WMD” scare tactics by misrepresenting Jameis Winston’ “gold chain guy” as an improper booster while urging the NCAA to inspect Florida State’s institutional control to nudge them out of the top four. OK, maybe history won’t repeat itself that dramatically, but people are still askin’ questions they didn’t grill football novice Demaurice Smith about when he replaced Gene Upshaw as the NFLPA’s Executive Director before contentious negotiations over their next collective bargaining agreement.

That’s an easy one. It has as much to do with her experience as a Stanford provost who hired fellow committee member Tyrone Willingham to be the Cardinal head coach as it does with the BCS’ 2009 hiring of former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to head up its public relations before a potential antitrust law challenge from the Obama Justice Department.

Rice’s ambitions don’t stop at being part of a college football cabinet. In fact, she’s overqualified for her position. In 2010, she was offered Larry Scott’s current position as head of the Pac-10. The former Secretary State probably declined because she has her sights set on a higher office. Like Jadaveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater, Rice may be using college football as her audition for Roger Goodell’s warm seat.

In case you just spit up scorching hot coffee all over yourself, consider that Rice’s resume as a Stanford provost and sports aficionado with little playing experience mirrors the backgrounds of Georgetown hoops star Paul Tagliabue and Yale president turned MLB Commish, Bartlett Giamatti.

Rice put this one to bed on Wednesday’s Olbermann during a chat with guest host Colin Cowherd.

"I am a student of Russian, but I've never been Russian either." she retorted with a proud smirk on her face.

Augusta National Golf Club accepting her was long overdue, but let’s welcome Rice to college athletics – the real old boys club. Yo mad, bro?

Condoleezza Rice wearing the famed green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club


HEISMAN JURY – These candidates are making their case for why they should be awarded the sport’s most prestigious trophy. Each week, TSL will deliberate over each player’s weekly exploits.

Trinidad Jameis Winston – Winston will have the chance to kick his Heisman campaign into fifth gear when the Seminoles descend into the Death Valley. While he wasn’t throwing any touchdown passes over the weekend, he was tossing alley-oops at FSU’s Midnight Madness. If he doesn't get rattled by the atmosphere, then he'll be calls to hang out with Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke– as soon as he gets back from a certain ceremony in New York.

Marcus Mariota You won’t see Mariota much. Not only does he play on the West Coast where his games usually kickoff around midnight, but the Ducks offense scores at such a quick pace that they’re usually back on the bench celebrating a touchdown nanoseconds after taking the field. While his 366 yards passing against Washington (in addition to 88 rushing) may not seem like much, take note that the Huskies were fourth in defensive passing efficiency coming into the week.

Mariota is great, but it's difficult to gauge how he stacks up against the competition because of how superior Oregon is as a team. Part of the reason, Oregon hasn't stayed within the touchdowns of an opponent yet has been Mariota’s immaculate performances. He’s now passed for 17 touchdowns, rushed for eight and hasn't thrown an interception.

Johnny Manziel – Johnny Football was a Man(ziel) on fire in the second half against Ole Miss. In the final four minutes Manziel used each of his limbs to rally the Aggies back from a 7-point deficit. His Heisman moment of the 2013 season may have been his Oops! Wrong way touchdown run on a wounded knee.

Vic Beasley – Beasley is the devil’s advocate on the Heisman jury. Instead of gaining acclaim for advancing the ball, he goes unnoticed as the commander of the Tigers mauling defense. Negative plays are his incentive. Just think for a moment. Jadaveon Clowney, Beasley and Robert Nkemdiche nearly ended up at Clemson together. Beasley outplayed them all this season. He’s the nation’s leading sack artist, tied for first with 12 unassisted TFLs and as a whole the Clemson defense is 10th in scoring defense – 36 spots up from last season. Last weekend, Beasley chipped in seven points for the offense. Clowney who?

NO ALIBIS:  Whereabouts unaccounted for at the time of kickoff.

Blake Bell & Aaron Murray – Both had abysmal showings in and saw their respective national title pipe dreams get nuked. In the aftermath of the ashen sky and scorched turfs, the Heisman race has been whittled down considerably.

Murray threw two interceptions including the game-ending turnover and for the second-straight game Bell went into Witness Protection while the Sooners were on offense. They’ve been dismissed from this jury.

THE ALTERNATES: Ready to step in at a moment’s notice

Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State), Sean Mannion (QB, Oregon State), Lache Seastrunk (RB, Baylor), Bryce Petty (QB, Baylor), Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA), Tajh Boyd (QB, Clemson)



No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson

All the talk is about Winston's first major college test, but this could be Tajh Boyd's last chance to get Clemson that advanced degree in BCS national championship studies. The home team has won 10 of the last 11 games in this rivalry and Florida State has not won at Death Valley since 2001. All the odds are in Clemson's favor. Clemsoning doesn't usually apply to top-five matchups but this is a game the Tigers should win. The crowd in attendance will attempt to break the crowd noise record, but that will be nothing compared to the groaning noises they'll if they don't whoop up on Florida State at home. Clemson, this is your waterloo. If Winston imposes his will on Clemson, the rest of the ACC might as well bow down for the next few seasons.

No. 22 Florida at No. 22 Mizzou

Maty Mauk couldn’t have dreamed up a more nightmarish scenario if he’d watched the SAW series before bed every night. Torture may be what awaits him after 60 minutes of getting knocked around by the Gators fifth-ranked defense. If you like Missouri to win this one then you probably also  enjoy walks at night through dark parks and hitchhiking through Columbia.

No. 24 Auburn at No. 7 Texas A&M

Malzahn meets Manziel. You can bet that both offenses will be waging world war z on the scoreboard. Auburn is the offensive yin to A&M’s yang. For all the praised bestowed upon Manziel’s rushing prowess, he’s currently the SEC’s pole-setting passer while Auburn is seventh nationally in rushing.

Gus Malzahn has done impressive work with Auburn’s roster. Back when Gene Chizik was head coach, Malzahn was the coach most observers realized was the brains behind the operation. Nick Marshall is dangerous with his legs, but after Malzahn burned true freshman Jeremy Johnson’s redshirt last week against FCS Western Carolina, he discovered the better pure passer of the bunch. It’ll be interesting to see how Malzahn utilizes Johnson moving forward. Otherwise, his decision to play Johnson last weekend was a potential waste.

No. 9 UCLA at No. 13 Stanford

Stanford no longer controls their own destiny. The Cardinals will be wide awake for this one after watching their national championship aspirations slip into a coma. UCLA is sandwiched between Oregon and Stanford in the Pac-12’s power struggle. The culture of excellence won’t allow Stanford to stay down for long though. Former Stanford receiver Cory Booker was elected to the Senate, while Ty Willingham and Condoleezza Rice were officially announced as members of the 13-member playoff selection committee. UCLA is the best mistake-prone team in the country If they can stay away from getting flagged like the U.N. then they can definitely pull this one out.


On Wednesday, the numerous cable news government shutdown clocks came to a grinding halt when the Senate and House passed a short-term solution in the form of a bill which raised the debt ceiling, kicked the bucket down the road and kept the nation’s economy from plunging into despair.

This weekend, the BCS will begin its final rein as lord over college football’s national championship when the first BCS rankings of 2013 are released.

The beginning of the end is near. Unfortunately, it may be too late for teams like Kellen Moore’s Boise State of yesteryear and the current Bridgewater-led Louisville Cardinals.

The first BCS computer rankings of 2013 will be unveiled on Sunday night and every week until the end of the season. Louisville will probably finish the season with an unblemished record, but their odds of making the top-two are zilch. One year later, and a committee would have been forced to include Louisville in a four-team playoff.

Conversely, after getting World Star KO’d in an alley by the Washington Huskies last weekend, hope isn’t lost for the Cardinal of Stanford.

Navigating the BCS as a college football program is a lot like taking the SATs. The trick about the SAT is that it’s better for your final to leave an answer blank than it is to guess and answer it incorrectly. This season, Louisville found their schedule lacking in quality teams because opponents like Texas A&M never panned out, Louisville’s schedule was left bare of a single top-25 program and they’ve got a perfect score.

Stanford guessed incorrectly by losing a trap game to Utah, but in the end, the one-loss Cardinal would get priority because of their Schwarzenegger-like strength of schedule if the dominoes fall in their favor. Shaw’s team has a litany of extracurricular activities and family alumni to supplement their BCS championship admissions application.

Recommendations from Oregon, UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, Oregon State, Notre Dame and USC look much better on the BCS application than conquering Kentucky, Rutgers and Houston. Louisville’s lack of access to quality competition is a microcosm of the battle haves and have not’s have been waging for years.

This should be the last time a program with no control over their opponents will begin a season with no legitimate shot at playing for all the marbles. While other sports are in need of more artifical intelligence, college football is sharpening their pencils, brushing dust off the chalk boards and going old school. The government shutdown partially ended after 16 days, but this week also begins the march towards an end to computer tyranny. Humans may be fallible, but we’re back in control of college football. The BCS is not immortal.

15 years down, 52 days to go until Skynet logs off.