Condoleezza Rice: 'I feel pretty strongly about four' for CFP

ByHeather Dinich ESPN logo
Thursday, April 16, 2015

STANFORD, Calif. -- College Football Playoff selection committee member Condoleezza Rice and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott agreed Wednesday that four teams is currently the right number for the playoff, a highlight of their discussion on a wide range of issues in college athletics as keynote speakers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business Sports Innovation Conference.

It was a rare opportunity to hear the former secretary of state speak about her first season as a committee member. Rice called it "one of the best committees I've ever served on." She said she would watch football from 9 a.m. PT on Saturday until around midnight.

"I feel pretty strongly about four now because I thought that the rivalry weekend -- that Saturday after Thanksgiving -- almost felt like a play-in game," said Rice, a professor and former provost at Stanford. "Now the Iron Bowl, Alabama has to beat Auburn. You could imagine the circumstances in another year where the Civil War, Oregon really has to beat Oregon State. There are questions whether they will. ...

"I agree that if it got much larger, I don't think you would have that momentum coming out of the regular season, so it's the best possible scenario."

Scott said he didn't see "any movement to expand beyond four," citing the extended academic calendar, the toll it would take on the athletes and the importance of the regular season as some of the main reasons.

He said the only way the Power 5 conferences would even consider expanding the playoff is if they were guaranteed spots in it, which would detract from the drama and anticipation of the season.

"I think we're all lamenting regular-season college basketball not being more popular right now, at a time when March Madness has never been more popular," Scott said. "To me, that's a great example of the field being so big that the regular season doesn't matter anymore.

"There's something about that drama, that tension that makes it very special and keeps a lot of value in the regular season, which is good for all of our schools."

The selection committee met earlier this month in Indianapolis to review the season, and few changes are expected for the fall. Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt and former Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson will replace Oliver Luck and Archie Manning on the committee, and they will propose one fewer top 25 ranking because the season begins a week later.

The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick comprise the playoff's management committee and will meet later this month in Dallas. If the management committee accepts the recommendation, the first ranking would be revealed Nov. 3.

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