One of the smartest and most passionate college football fans I know lives in my house. And she is a she.
My wife, Jennifer, grew up going to Nebraska football games, most every week, up in row 96 of the south end zone. And she insists that a college football game be on TV in our house whenever possible. God bless her.
She knows her zone read from her belly option, who can block and tackle and who can't. She knows that scheduling South Dakota State over Louisiana State is a mark against a résumé. She could certainly select the top four teams in the country without a male tour guide.
Then again, she's never been secretary of state. Which apparently is the hang-up some football men have with Condoleezza Rice being named to the playoff committee.
Let her leave the room when the committee discusses Iraq's strength of schedule.
The protest couldn't be because she's a woman, could it?
That seemed to be where former Auburn coach Pat Dye was heading, when he ripped the idea, citing Rice had never played or coached the game.
Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini almost went there on Monday, saying one of the names he had heard on the committee made him shake his head, and added that he hoped the selection to the committee wasn't political. Asked if that name was Rice, Coach Bo smiled and said no, and said Rice was “the real deal.”
Well played, Coach.
Of course the committee selection is political. A lot of these things are. The commissioners running the committee want it to be a who's who of college football. That's why Barry Alvarez, Oliver Luck, Pat Haden, Tom Jernstedt and Mike Tranghese are reportedly in. And, yes, Tom Osborne.
This is a very good list. But these names are all well-known in the circles of movers and shakers in college sports. They give the group credibility. Archie Manning oozes integrity and character. But his selection is about image, too.
And what about Jernstedt and Tranghese? The first was a long-time executive and powerful behind-the-scenes figure in the NCAA, which never got involved with college football's postseason. The latter made his good name as the smart and savvy commissioner of the Big East Conference. But Tranghese is known more as a college hoops and TV expert. I wonder who his hero was as a kid.
Rice was born with a football in her crib. Her father, a high school football coach and athletic director in Birmingham, Ala., put the ball there, perhaps secretly hoping for a son. He raised a football fan. Rice picked up her father's allegiance to the Cleveland Browns and was so fascinated with Paul Brown that she changed teams when Brown took over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Wonder how much Dye knows about the father of the modern passing game.
According to a story on ESPN.com, when Rice's father took a job at the University of Denver, several Denver Broncos players came to their house for dinner. Rice was always there to quiz them about X's and O's.
Rice, a former faculty member at Stanford, was at the Stanford-Washington game on Saturday night. She might be asked to dismiss herself when the Cardinal are being discussed. But, on a panel of 12 to 18 “experts,” she should fit right in.
Here in Nebraska, we understand. Women know football. Save your howling for when they pick the media members of the committee.
» We never hesitate to point out the absence of details in Nebraska football, so it's only right to spotlight fundamentals taught and executed just right. In this case, that would be the perimeter blocking by NU's wide receivers. Getting receivers to throw a block is one thing, having them do it consistently well is another level. That's old-school Nebraska stuff (when Ron Brown was receivers coach). Well done, Rich Fisher.
» Ameer Abdullah has the look of an All-Big Ten running back and potentially a Big Ten MVP. But those kinds of things will fall into place with the help of his offensive coordinator and teammates. Abdullah will need to play well (and win) against Northwestern and Michigan and Michigan State and probably have his team win the Legends Division. I think all of those things tie in together, don't you?
» Creighton hoops will have an open house at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the CenturyLink Center to unveil its new Big East “rebranding,” or, the new logo on the court. Then the Jays will run through some shooting drills. No word if getting mugged under the basket will be one of the new Big East drills.
My guess is the new Creighton Big East logo is a caricature of Billy Bluejay climbing up the Empire State Building.
» Meanwhile, CU coach Greg McDermott told me last week that he's working on finding Big Ten and Big 12 schools for future schedules. With the Big East RPI, Mac doesn't need to load up. But he mentioned Iowa State as a possibility. Just as long as they don't bring Big 12 refs. Football or basketball.
» I get why Pat Fitzgerald wouldn't leave the cocoon at Northwestern. It's the epitome of great fit. But I have to wonder how he felt about all the red in his stadium for the Ohio State game (and Nebraska last year). You're telling me Northwestern fans can't take over their own stadium for a big game?
» Gary Pinkel and the SEC looked like a bad fit. But lo and behold, Pinkel may have caught a break. Defenses in the SEC are backpedaling, and the league suddenly looks like the Big 12 with scoreboards going ding, ding, ding.
» I wonder how that's going over with the SEC media, who used to mock Big 12 football as “flag football.” Now, it's probably called “exciting football.”
» If you kept your Kansas City Chiefs season tickets, if you kept driving down I-29 every Sunday, if you kept putting the Scott Pioli years on your TV at home, congratulations. You've earned this.
» The Husker fans I was around on Saturday night unabashedly rooted for Northwestern over Ohio State. Maybe they don't take the Wildcats seriously as a division rival. Maybe they already despise all things Ohio.
» I finally finished the DVR of “The Book Of Manning.” Archie Manning is my new hero and I wish I had taken notes when he spoke at the Christ The King sports banquet a few years back. It was a great show on how to raise kids. And I also got a little insight into why Archie pushed Eli away from San Diego and to the New York Giants. So I'm only half as bitter.
» That was a tough two days last week for football in the state of Iowa (including Northern Iowa). Somewhere between Ames and Iowa City, I heard the faint sounds of a basketball pounding the floor.
» Golf season isn't quite over. Good luck to local pros participating in this week's Senior PGA Club Pro championship in Aldie, Va., including Don Germer, Jim White, Rob Brown, Brian Kuta and Mike Antonio. The low 35 among the field of 264 will qualify for the Senior PGA Championship next May.
» One more and I'm outta here: Such great news that Jack Hoffman's brain tumor is in remission. There are so many other little warriors out there. Jack became their representative, with a sweet and determined face. We rallied around Jack, but our prayers went to all. May they all get good news.
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Video: Bo Pelini discusses Condoleezza Rice