BCS chief: System is in schools’ best interest
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The new BCS executive director officially began his tenure Thursday by saying the often-criticized postseason represents a consensus among the 120 schools that play major college football.
Bill Hancock said a playoff at college football’s highest level would lead to more injuries, conflict with final exams, kill the bowl system and diminish the importance of the regular season.
“I know this is not completely popular, but I believe in it,” Hancock told reporters Thursday at the Football Writers Association of America awards breakfast. “I believe it is in the best interest of the universities.
“College football has never been better and I believe the BCS is part of that.”
Hancock, a longtime administrator in college athletics, was hired by the conference commissioners in November to be a full-time point person for the Bowl Championship Series. During the first 12 years of the BCS, the position of coordinator rotated among conference commissioners on a two-year basis.
Hancock now assumes those duties.
The Bowl Championship Series was implemented in 1998 to match the two top-ranked teams in major college football at the end of the season and help create matchups for the four other marquee bowl games — the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose.
No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Texas were set to play in the BCS national championship Thursday night at the Rose Bowl.
Hancock said the fact that other lower levels of college football use playoffs to decide their champions doesn’t mean it would work in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The second-tier of Division I football, the Championship Subdivision, has a 16-team playoff with all but the final played at home sites.
“It works at that level, I can’t deny it, but if you look attendance for those games, only Montana had decent attendance,” he said. “Many teams didn’t draw as well as they did in the regular season.”
Hancock said there has been no discussion about adding a fifth bowl into the BCS mix. He said the commissioners and bowls are pleased with the double-hosting model, in which the championship game is played about a week after the other four bowls at one of those sites.
“But I suspect it will be one of the items on our list of topics,” he said.
It has been speculated that the Cotton Bowl, now played in the new $1.2 billion Dallas Cowboys Stadium, would again make a pitch to be included in the BCS.
“The fact is what we have right now works,” Hancock said. “Who would you ask not to be a part of this?”
No changes are expected to the system for the next four years, despite congressional hearings and a new pro-playoff ad campaign.
The BCS begins a new four-year TV deal with ESPN next season, and each of its current bowl partners also start new four-year contracts in the 2010 season.
The BCS is in the middle of a four-year cycle it will us to evaluate which conferences receive automatic bids. The champions of the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, ACC and SEC currently get automatic bids to BCS games.
The BCS uses three criteria, which judge the strength of the teams in the conferences from top to bottom, to determine which leagues receive automatic bids.
Hancock said the number of automatic bids could go up for the 2012 season if another conferences qualifies under the BCS standards.
The Mountain West Conference doesn’t have an automatic bid but has had its champion earn a BCS berth three times since the 2004 season, including this season with TCU. The Western Athletic Conference also has had three teams, including Boise State twice, reach the BCS.
But both leagues would like to secure automatic bids and some BCS critics have questioned whether the process for earning an automatic bid is truly objective.
Hancock said the BCS has talked about making that process more transparent.
“I think there is some sense now that it is time to be a little bit more open about that,” he said. “It’s all objective, based on the data.”