Condoleezza Rice, Browns deny interest in making former Secretary of State next Cleveland coach

The Cleveland Browns have one of the top head coaching vacancies on the market but do not expect them to simply go by the book when it comes to their next hire. In fact, the Browns are reportedly thinking about going WAY outside the box and plan to interview former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to fill the role, according to a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.

It does not sound like this would actually happen, though. The Browns and Rice both issued statements essentially stating the interview wouldn't be happening.

"I love my Browns -- and I know they will hire an experienced coach to take us to the next level," Rice said in a statement posted to her Facebook page. "On a more serious note, I do hope that the NFL will start to bring women into the coaching profession as position coaches and eventually coordinators and head coaches. One doesn't have to play the game to understand it and motivate players. But experience counts -- and it is time to develop a pool of experienced women coaches.

"BTW -- I'm not ready to coach but I would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas! And at no time will I call for a 'prevent defense.'"

The Browns also issued a statement, saying that Rice "has not been discussed" as a possibility for the next Browns coach. 

"Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a great leader, possesses the highest possible character and also happens to be a Browns fan," GM John Dorsey said. "I have the utmost respect and admiration for all she's accomplished and was honored to meet her for the first time earlier this season. Our coaching search will be thorough and deliberate, but we are still in the process of composing the list of candidates and Secretary Rice has not been discussed."

Rice would check multiple surprising boxes in terms of the Browns going in a different direction: she would obviously be the first female NFL coach, but she would also be the first coach, as far as we can remember it, hired without any actual coaching experience.

She would also presumably take some responsibility for whatever decisions she made, which would make her the opposite of the recently fired Hue Jackson. That can't be a terrible thing.

Football returned to Cleveland in 1999 and the Browns have not had a ton of success in terms of actually winning football games. Which is a really kind way of putting it: the Browns have one playoff appearance in that stretch (2007), they have four wins in the last three years and they've been through a whopping six coaches since Jimmy Haslam showed up and bought the team.

So, um, why not? As Bruce Arians would say, no risk it no biscuit. And Rice would be a MAJOR risk. Just as anyone -- male or female -- would be if they have zero football coaching experience.

Rice was part of the college football playoff committee for three years, although her three-year term just expired and her contract wasn't renewed

The former Secretary of State, who worked under George W. Bush, wouldn't just be the first female NFL head coach, she would also be the first woman to interview for an NFL head coaching opportunity. 

There has been a significant amount of growth in terms of women being involved in the game, however, with Kelsey Martinez being hired by the Raiders, Katie Sowers getting a gig as an offensive assistant with the 49ers and Jen Welter being hired by the Cardinals (when Arians was there).

One other angle to consider here: according to Schefter, the interview with Rice could "even lead to Rice becoming more involved in the organization in an official capacity or as a consultant."

That seems like the most likely outcome in this situation. As impressive as Rice is and as forward-thinking as John Dorsey might be as a GM, hiring someone with zero coaching experience to take the Browns -- a team that is young and talented enough to make this an intriguing opportunity -- to the next level is just too big a risk. None of that is to say Rice can't be a good coach. It's just not an easy spot to win and having some experience at coaching football players has to be considered a net positive for anyone taking this job. 

Rice is a "lifelong Browns fan" and has been featured in NFL ads wearing a Cleveland jersey. She's been floated as a possibility to become NFL commissioner at some point. She's clearly a leader of the highest order and, coupled with her optimistic enthusiasm for the Browns, someone Dorsey wants involved with the team. 

Perhaps the bigger lesson to take from the report is just how wide a net the Browns plan on casting in this search. Dorsey has not been afraid to come into Cleveland and aggressively turn things around from a roster standpoint. That same attitude should carry over to the coaching search based on early reports. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories