(Disclaimer: Much to the dismay of my alma mater, I went to Auburn. At the school paper in the late '80s, I covered Coach Pat Dye. He called me "little lady" on occasion back then, not necessarily now.)
It is unkind to poke fun at that old coot Pat Dye because he got his Depends in a wad over a woman who has shown plenty of lady balls against despots on the global playing field. In U.S. vs. the World scrimmages, Condoleezza Rice is a player. Football, well, that's a far more complex set of X's and O's than negotiating Middle East peace and is best handled by those with a Y chromosome. And with Dye, even at age 73, you always ask Y. But if you listen to the former Auburn coach, his rally against Rice being placed on a committee to oversee college football's new playoff system next year makes perfect sense.
"All she knows about football is what somebody told her," Dye told the WJOX morning show, The Opening Drive, this week, echoing similar statements made by ESPN commentator Dave Pollack. "Or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television."
Maybe everything Rice learned about running the State Department was gleaned from playing Stratego and binge-watching "The West Wing" but, as Dye is trying to tell you, reading defenses is very confusing to a lady brain.
"To understand football, you've got to play with your hand in the dirt," added Dye.
Of those with dirty hands in college football, few shine brighter than Dye. He was once asked in a press conference, "How long will it take you to beat Alabama?" His reply? "60 Minutes." Dye made good on his promise to kick 'Bama in its Houndstooth lore, and then encountered a very different 60 Minutes. After a decade leading Auburn to the top as a national power, it turns out he did it on the wings of a booster scandal that landed the university in the crosshairs of Ed Bradley on CBS. Dye was forced out by 1992. But he has never left, still as attached as a barnacle to Auburn University, crusty and immovable as ever. Dye has shown remarkable survival skills, connecting himself with super booster Bobby Lowder, landing a spot on his Colonial Bank board with only a small glitch: Colonial was forced to settle a lawsuit when the bank hit bottom in the recession. Maybe all Dye knew about banking was what he read in a book.
Nothing knocks him off his rocker, though. Dye keeps good company with Alabama powerbrokers such as Republican kingmaker Mike Hubbard, the Speaker of the House in that state. The two are buddies in politics and investments. With his visibility never waning, Dye still is revered as Auburn's link to the good ol' days -- like when women couldn't vote or be members of Augusta National. (Note to Dye: Brace yourself! Condi votes AND wears the Green Jacket.)
So let it be known that it would be a foolhardy mistake to disregard the value of Dye's opinion. He is a dadgum Nostradamus. There is reason for fear in his gridiron heart over whether Condi's Ph.D. mind will come unglued by all those football metaphors, which are never, ever used in politics. Dye has seen the future of sports -- and it's a pink vision of a world that would never be the same …
If there were women on an MLB roster, there would be a trashcan in dugouts, which usually look like a scene from "The Hangover" by the end of a game.
If there were women on an NFL roster, they would not allow white pants after Labor Day. And, anyway, they make the players look fat.
If there were a woman as an NFL coach, there would be no telling what play she would call, given all those mood swings and that confounding change of life.
If there were a woman on an NHL team, players would not be allowed to take their teeth out at the training table.
If there were women playing in the NFL, there would be few concussion issues because a gal will always tell you when she has a headache.
If there were ladies on an NBA roster, her teammates would refrain from acts of infidelity because women do tell.
Nothing will be right again if the slippery slope to Condi Rice occurs. Besides, this job is way too much pressure for her fragile psyche. Yes, she grew up in the '50s amid a racially divided south in Birmingham, Ala. Yes, she had to be the first African-American woman to do just about everything, but that is easy peazy compared to being on a committee charged with picking teams for the College Football Playoff, which is replacing the BCS, a system that worked like a well-oiled machine with the fellas in charge. But do not mistake Dye's stance for criticism.
"I love Condoleezza Rice," said Dye, adding, "and she's probably a good statesman and all of that, but how in the hell does she know what it's like out there when you can't get your breath and it's 110 degrees and the coach asks you to go some more?"
That must be exactly what former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese worries about. How will he handle the heat? Like Condi, he has never taken a collegiate snap. Like Condi, he is another potential committee member for the playoff system. Both are in way over their pretty little heads.