Stanford Using Condoleezza Rice as High-Powered Recruiting Weapon

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIMarch 13, 2013

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Former Secretary of State and Cardinal alum Condoleezza Rice celebrates after the Cardinal defeat the Wisconsin Badgers 20-14 in the 99th Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio on January 1, 2013 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is apparently one heck of a college football recruiter, and the Stanford Cardinal are benefiting from her prestige and knowledge on the recruiting trail.

According to a great piece by Jana Persky and Neel Thakkar of the Stanford Daily, head coach David Shaw uses Ms. Rice to his team's advantage:

Even so, in order to truly wow potential players with all that Stanford has to offer, Shaw often brings in the person he calls his “cleanup hitter”—former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“She could live in so many places and do so many other things, but she likes to surround herself with the brightest and the best, and she found that here at Stanford,” Shaw said. “She relates that really well to recruits and their families.”

Rice will even personally meet with recruits when she's on campus:

According to Rice, she became involved with the football program during the 1980s, when the coaches would hold faculty brunches with recruits. Since then, whenever she’s on campus, Rice finds time to meet with recruits from a variety of sports.

“I never say that Stanford is the only option, but Stanford is about excellence, and you should want to go to a place where excellence is appreciated,” Rice said. 

To make this story even more impressive, Rice has a great football mind as well:

Shaw said that he and Rice have drawn up some safety plays or considered ways to exploit the mismatches that Stanford’s tight ends have created in recent years.

“She loves that dynamic that we use to make big plays and also be big targets in the Red Zone,” Shaw said. “She hates prevent defenses. She loves defenses that are aggressive at the end of the game.”

What can Condoleezza Rice not do?

Don't be so naive to think that Rice's presence around the Stanford football program doesn't play huge dividends on the recruiting trail. She's one of the more influential political figures of our time and held one of the most prestigious positions in not just American politics, but the world. 

She's also a great person to seek advice from in regards to Stanford. Who better to talk to about the program than a current Grad School of Business professor and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution? That's not to mention the fact that she joined Stanford as a political science professor in 1981 and was the provost from 1993-1999 (all according to the Stanford Daily report).

As a diplomat, she needs to have the ability to communicate and interact well with people, so again, who better to have representing the Cardinal on the recruiting trail? Throw in a passion for the game, and Stanford seems to have itself a "secret weapon" for bringing in new talent. 

She's also willing to give recruits the inside scoop on Notre Dame (according to the Stanford Daily report):

According to Shaw, Rice is particularly helpful in talking to recruits who are also considering Notre Dame, where Rice earned her masters degree.

Asked to comment, Rice used her well-practiced diplomatic skills.

“They’re both great institutions, and I love both of them,” Rice laughed. “There’s never just one good place.”

Rice can use her political background in countless ways, so as a college football fan and writer, it's great to see her investing in a top program that pairs athletics with academics. 

The case could be made that recruiting is just college football's version of politics, so it's no wonder that Rice seems to have a knack for it.

Supreme diplomat or ace recruiter?

I'll let you be the judge.


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