Meeting of the playoff minds

Just so you know, I'm writing this week's BMOC while wearing my alternate uniform. It looked a lot better on the mannequin.


The reports can't be true. Condoleezza Rice is on the new College Football Playoff selection committee? What's next? A woman as U.S. Secretary of State? A woman member at Augusta National? When does the madness end?

Oh, wait. She already did all that stuff? Then I'm good with it, though I would have chosen Chelsea Handler instead of Condi. More fun.

Meanwhile, my "College GameDay" colleague David Pollack is getting criticized for questioning Rice's inclusion on the committee. The thing is, I know what Pollack was trying to say -- and he actually did say it later in a tweet: that his concerns are not gender related and more football related.

To put it indelicately: What does Condoleezza Rice know about college football?

The answer: probably not a lot. But she will.

If Rice can play the piano with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, navigate the intricacies of Soviet diplomacy and serve as National Security Advisor, I'm pretty sure she'll be able to figure out if, say, Ohio State belongs in college football's first Final Four.

Rice watches football. Attends football games (born in Birmingham, Ala., she's no stranger at Bama games). By all accounts, she cares about football. And she couldn't do any worse than some of the coaches who have taken part in past USA Today or Harris Poll balloting. Some of those votes were laughable in their ignorance, bias and self-serving agendas.

Rice wouldn't have been my first choice for the selection committee. Or my 13th. It's not that I don't think she'll immerse herself in the process and research; it's just that I think there are more qualified candidates, male and female, than Rice. (Bo Jackson? Val Ackerman? Sheila Johnson? Doug Williams? Tim Tebow?)

Rice's name sticks out like a fluorescent Oregon helmet because (A) she's a woman; (B) she never played, coached or even covered college football; and (C) her professional résumé doesn't exactly dovetail with college football. It would be like me being named National Security Advisor because I watched Season 1 of "Homeland."

Still, I like the boldness of the pick. The more really smart people on the committee, the better. And Rice is scary smart. Her mind is trained to think and analyze in ways that will be different from anyone else on the selection committee. And that can be a good thing.

Plus, it isn't like this is unprecedented. The NCAA men's basketball selection committee includes Judy MacLeod of Conference USA. She is the third woman to have served on the committee.

Of course, none of those women spent a lot of time in the White House.

If nothing else, you have to respect the philosophy of the committee's makeup. It's broad, national, diverse. It stretches the envelope of traditional thinking. And remember, Rice is only 1/13th of the committee -- though, that number could expand by one if, and only if, organizers find the perfect fit.

Anyway, whatever Rice doesn't know about football now, she'll learn. And she won't be the only one on that committee who will need to cram. You think Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, who just retired as superintendent of the Air Force Academy, has been spending his days breaking down film of Bama's Cover 2 scheme?

And in the spirit of diplomacy, if Rice ever wants to talk college football with someone who loves the game, knows the game and can explain the game, I have just person for her.

His name is David Pollack.


Joel Goodsen: "Where are you going to school?"

High school kid at gas station: "Wisconsin."

Goodsen: "Wisconsin? Big school."

In this week's version of, "Yes, No, Maybe," we ask the questions that matter:

Did the Big 12 do the right thing by publicly reprimanding Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads after he had a postgame meltdown about the officiating in Thursday night's loss against Texas?


Instead, Rhoads should have been congratulated for not sprinting to the replay booth and smashing the video equipment with a couple of forearm shivers.

Texas running back Johnathan Gray had the ball stripped from him at the Iowa State 1-yard line with about one minute left in the game. I saw it. Rhoads saw it. The stadium crowd saw. The rest of America saw it.

Everyone saw it except the Big 12 officials calling the game. And then the replay official said there wasn't indisputable evidence to reverse the lousy call.

So it cost Iowa State the game and produced this little postgame gem from Rhoads: "The view I had of that gigantic screen in the north end zone showed a guy that was not down and our guy with the football."

Rhoads could have said worse and nobody would have blamed him. He spoke from the heart. And he spoke only minutes removed from a gruesome loss. I would have cut him a break.

Will Jack Del Rio be the next USC coach?


Del Rio makes sense on a lot of different levels: USC guy. Has head coaching experience. Has NFL experience. … I get it.

But if I'm USC athletic director Pat Haden, I'd first make a run at Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. Nothing against Del Rio, but Sumlin has done all the things Del Rio hasn't: coached on the college level, been successful on the college level, recruited on the college level, and survived all the ridiculousness of the college level (hello, Johnny Football!).

The only downside to Sumlin? He could be a target of NFL teams as early as this offseason. And seasons after that.

Sumlin knows how to build a college program. And he knows how to coach in a college program that is a little different than everyone else's. Texas A&M is different than a lot of places. Same goes for USC.

If Texas' Mack Brown beats Oklahoma this Saturday, is his job safe?


For a week.

And then if the Longhorns lose at TCU, the speculation will percolate again. And if Texas struggles down the stretch -- and it will -- against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and at Baylor? … Oh, boy.

After watching the horrifying number of missed tackles by the Longhorns' defense against Iowa State, can you imagine the carnage when they face Baylor? Just out of muscle memory, Brown will fire Greg Robinson.

If I gave 100 casual college football fans east of the Mississippi these choices -- Kevin Hogan: Youngest son of Hulk, two-term representative from the fourth congressional district in Tennessee, or Stanford quarterback? -- would more people get it wrong than right?


But Hogan is getting there. And if he isn't, that's the fault of mopes like me who haven't written enough about the guy.

Here's a note from the folks in ESPN Stats & Information: Since Hogan became Stanford's starter, he has gone 10-0, with six of those wins coming against top-25 teams.

Would the over/under of a Baylor vs. Oregon BCS National Championship be 100?


But that's only if the defenses come to play.

The BCS high for combined points in a title game was 79: Texas 41, USC 38, in the 2005 championship.

Oregon has scored 55-plus points in five consecutive games this season, while Baylor has scored 69-plus in four straight games. If it happened -- and it could, by the way -- wouldn't you love to be embedded in the position meetings conducted by Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti and Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett?


Texas senior wide receiver Mike Davis can issue all the explanations he wants, but the game tape doesn't lie: He took a cheap shot at Iowa State defensive back Deon Broomfield during Thursday night's game in Ames.

Davis dove at the knees of Broomfield, even though the Longhorns' scoring play was all but complete, and Broomfield was about 15 yards away from the action.

A few of his tweets:

"I play to the whistle. … Sorry I was taught that."

"I don't have a history of being a dirty player & have never been called one. The tape without knowledge of the circumstances is unfair."

"I wasn't aware it was a run. Check the tape & you can see our other WR is also blocking his defender. I did exactly what we are taught to."

Hmmm. Wonder if Davis would have felt the same way if Broomfield had done the same to him. And yes, the other wide receiver, Kendall Sanders, gave a half-hearted shove to an Iowa State DB. By the way, he did it at the shoulder pads.

Davis went for the knees of an opponent who had clearly stopped playing after the Texas score. In fact, you can see another Longhorns wide receiver, Jaxon Shipley, raising his arm in celebration after the touchdown -- and just before Davis targets Broomfield's knees.

It doesn't matter if Davis has a history of cheap shots. It also doesn't matter that Broomfield was lucky his ACLs weren't torn on the "block."

Davis deserved more than a penalty flag and a public reprimand from the Big 12 for the hit. If you can suspend a player for targeting the head, then you can do the same for targeting the knees of an opponent.


Right now, there are 17 undefeated teams: Alabama, Baylor, Clemson, Florida State, Fresno State, Houston, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Texas Tech and UCLA. And out of those 17, only two teams -- Fresno and NIU -- would enter the bowl season without having faced another unbeaten program.

Clemson still has to play FSU later this month and possibly Miami in the ACC championship.

FSU still has Clemson and Miami on its schedule.

Louisville and Houston face each other in mid-November.

Michigan plays Ohio State at the end of November.

Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Baylor play each other.

Stanford, Oregon and UCLA play each other.

Missouri and Bama could be unbeaten when the SEC Championship arrives in early December.

What does it all mean? That you could have as many as eight undefeated teams going into bowl season (Fresno, NIU, an SEC team, a Big Ten team, a Big 12 team, an American Athletic team, a Pac-12 team and an ACC team).

Then comes the fun part. What if -- and I'm just throwing out these names as examples -- Bama, Oregon, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Louisville are six of the eight unbeatens? Which two teams advance to the BCS National Championship? And how loud will the others scream that they deserved to play in the national title game?


If Nick Saban can somehow guide Alabama to another BCS national title, they ought to build him another statue or rename the town, Tuscasaban.

His best defensive back, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, is suspended indefinitely for alleged NCAA rules violations.

His offensive line isn't as good as the 2012 version.

His defense isn't as good as the 2011 version.

His secondary has depth and inexperience issues.

His younger players have never had to deal with this sort of adversity.

His team leaders, guys such as C.J. Mosley and AJ McCarron, can only do so much heavy lifting.

His team is questioned if the margin of victory is anything less than a blowout.

And the expectations, which Saban helped create by his own ridiculous amount of success, can't be measured with a Department of Defense mainframe computer.

But if you can take a step back, which isn't easy for Crimson Tide followers, Bama still is positioned for more greatness. But it's going to be a grind.

First of all, Clinton-Dix is going to play again this season. Or put it this way: I'd be shocked if he doesn't return after paying back the money he reportedly took from an Alabama assistant strength coach.

Second, Bama never got a chance to ease into its schedule. Ohio State opened its season with home games against Buffalo and San Diego State (combined records, 5-5). The Tide went on the road to play Virginia Tech (at Atlanta) and Texas A&M (combined records, 9-2).

Now Bama gets a breather of sorts -- winless Georgia State last week, one-win Kentucky this week. That will give the Tide a chance to pace some of its starters and give some of its second-teamers more playing time. That helps down the season stretch.

And the Nov. 23 home game against FCS member Chattanooga comes at a nice time -- just after a road game at Mississippi State and a week before the Iron Bowl and an improved Auburn program.


Who knows how long it will last, but if you have any appreciation for college football history, go ahead and savor what Bama is doing these days.

You can love the Tide. Despise the Tide. But you can't ignore the football excellence of the Tide.

Feel free to click on the link.


Time for the weekly Heisman Trophy rankings. Until this thing sorts out more, you could flip a coin between the top five.

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon. The guy still hasn't played in the fourth quarter of a game this season. Just think what his numbers would be if did.

2. Tajh Boyd, Clemson. Cartoon numbers in the win at Syracuse.

3. Aaron Murray, Georgia. Your mistake is simply looking at his stats against Tennessee (only 196 passing yards, 54.3 completion percentage, three TDs). If you saw how he willed a team to a win (and did it without half his offense), you'd understand why I bumped him up in the rankings.

4. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M. Don't worry. He'll move up soon enough. Bye week.

5. AJ McCarron, Alabama. He'll never have the numbers of these other guys. But those guys won't have this number: McCarron has lost two games in his entire Bama career.

6. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville. He'll never have the schedule that Bama faces. Not his fault though. He keeps producing.

7. Jameis Winston, Florida State. Please, someone check his birth certificate. Nobody can be this good, this young, right?

8. Bryce Petty, Baylor. The numbers are almost obscene. Petty's 10 TD passes average 52.1 yards. And Baylor has the only offense in the country that hasn't had a three-and-out yet.

9. Brett Hundley, UCLA. Bruins would be lost without him.

10. Derek Carr, Fresno State. At some point, you can't ignore his numbers anymore (19 TD passes, 1 rushing TD, 1,864 passing yards, 70.7 completion percentage). He had 31 completions against Idaho on Saturday night -- in the first half!

(On the brink: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor; Sean Mannion, Oregon State; Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois; Stephen Morris, Miami; Zach Mettenberger, LSU; Braxton Miller, Ohio State.)


Two-liners …

• Nice to see Mike Tranghese on the football playoff selection committee. Tranghese and Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson have been pushing the idea of a committee longer than I have -- and I've writing about it since 2005.

• Just a reminder to those who think the reported list of selection committee members is set in granite. It isn't -- the vetting process is ongoing.

• Good nugget by "College GameDay" research expert Chris Fallica, who said that in the past three years, SEC teams coming off a loss to Alabama are 1-11 when playing an SEC team the following week. Sure enough, Ole Miss, which lost to Bama on Sept. 28, was upset by Auburn this past Saturday to make it 1-12.

• Isn't it time for the football gods to lighten up on Maryland? They lost four quarterbacks to injury last season and one of those QBs, fifth-year senior C.J. Brown, returned from knee surgery and was having a wonderful start in 2013 -- until he suffered a concussion in Saturday's blowout loss at Florida State.

• Whatever they're paying Southern Miss first-year head coach Todd Monken, it isn't enough. The Golden Eagles are now 0-5 this season (they lost to the previously winless Florida International) and have lost 17 games in a row.

• Pac-12 officiating crews are having an interesting season. First the debacle in the Wisconsin-Arizona State game and you should have seen the comedy show as the crew doing the UCLA-Utah game last Thursday night tried to sort out an obvious tipped pass situation.

• What do Washington and UCLA have in common? They'll both play Stanford and Oregon back to back, though the Bruins have to play both games on the road.


From the home office in Wheaton, Ill., comes this week's version of a four-team BCS playoff format.

No. 1 seed Oregon vs. No. 4 seed Ohio State. No change here from last week. Buckeyes' heart rate returning to normal after Northwestern scare.

No. 2 seed Alabama vs. No. 3 seed Clemson. Who would cover Clemson's Sammy Watkins? Take your time, Bama, answering that question.

On the bubble:

5. Georgia: Hard not to admire gutty road win at Tennessee by injury-depleted Bulldogs.

6. Stanford: When Stanford players watch game film of UCLA at Utah, they'll realize they can't have a post-U-Dub hangover in Salt Lake City.

7. Florida State: OK, I believe.

8. Texas A&M: Had the week off. Now face the suddenly free-falling Rebels.

9. Oklahoma: Red River Rivalry (otherwise known as, "Mack Brown says congratulations to Bob Stoops") in Dallas this Saturday. After that, at Kansas (Zzzzzz win), then Texas Tech and at Baylor.

10. LSU: The Tigers face Florida at Death Valley this Saturday. It's the 60th meeting between the two programs.

Close, but not quite there: Baylor, UCLA, Miami, South Carolina, Louisville.