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Berry Tramel

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Bill Hancock talks more about the College Football Playoff

by Berry Tramel Modified: August 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm •  Published: August 20, 2013
Bill Hancock, executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, introduces the new name - College Football Playoffs - and competition framework of what will replace the BCS in 2014 at a meeting of the football conference commissioners in Pasadena, Calif., Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) ORG XMIT: CARS208
Bill Hancock, executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, introduces the new name - College Football Playoffs - and competition framework of what will replace the BCS in 2014 at a meeting of the football conference commissioners in Pasadena, Calif., Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) ORG XMIT: CARS208

Bill Hancock is not a polarizing figure. Everyone on planet Earth likes Bill Hancock.

But Hancock has spent the last decade or so defending a polarizing institution. The BCS. College football’s two-team playoff system.

I wrote about Hancock and the soon-coming four-team playoff for the Tuesday Oklahoman. I wrote mostly about bias on the selection committee – Bob Stoops’ fear that it will exist, Hancock’s assurance that it will be eradicated. You can read that column here.

But there were a few leftover items related to the four-team playoff that I didn’t get into:

* Hancock’s belief that history will be kind to the BCS. And here’s part of Hancock’s belief. The idea that the BCS not only brought some order to post-season chaos, but that the BCS enhanced the regular season.

Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer helped put together the BCS and has said “he didn’t know how much it would help the regular season,” Hancock said. “Now we understand the impact.”

I can see Hancock’s point. In the old days, everyone waited for the polls to come out each Sunday or Monday, but the polls didn’t determine post-season matchups. They ultimately decided the national champion, but not post-season matchups. In the BCS, the polls absolutely determined the Big Bowl matchup.

* That’s why Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, is considering periodic updates – every other week or so, starting in October – to give fans and teams an idea of where they stand.

“I don’t think we can do it every week,” Hancock said, primarily because the committee likely would have to come together for votes.

Put me down as opposed to this idea. I see no great benefit other than fueling the hype. And the committee’s job should not be fueling the hype. The committee’s job should be selecting the top four teams.

Sometimes, how you vote in October can have an effect on how you vote in November, and thus how you vote in December. I know Hancock will try to have the committee work from Ground Zero every time it meets, but periodic rankings only serve to muddle the process.

* Hancock believes the four-team playoff will be accepted. Part of that will be because it replaces the BCS, which has a negative connotation, for no good reason.

Anyone’s problem with the current system should focus solely on the number. Two. The BCS is a two-team playoff. If you don’t like it, the only valid reason is the number. And that’s not a selection problem. That’s a number problem.

“I think it’ll be favorably received,” Hancock said. “We have to preserve the regular season and the bowl experience.” And the four-team playoff has done that.

Hancock noted that a couple of national-type opinion pieces already have stated that the BCS “wasn’t so bad after all.”

* Do you realize we’ve now had 22 years of some type of bowl cooperation? Sixteen years of the BCS, three years of the bowl alliance before that, three years of the bowl coalition before that.

So we’ve got an entire generation of fans who don’t remember the anarchy of the old days, when some bowl invitations might be handed out on Halloween.

* Hancock is adamant that the College Football Playoff won’t expand during the 12-year contract.

“We wanted to let folks know it’s going to be here 12 years,” Hancock said. “Sit back and enjoy it.”

* Bob Stoops wonders if former coaches will want to serve on the committee, though the likes of former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer have said they would do it.

“I’ll tell you what, I don’t know that if I was an old coach I’d want to be on it,” Stoops said. “‘Hey, what do I need that for?’ Right? That’s tough going. So, I don’t know. I don’t know how they would do it.”

* Stoops said if the committee does what Hancock has suggested it will do – focus on strength of schedule – the process could work itself out.

When asked how hard it will be to separate the No. 4 team from the No. 5 or No. 6 or No. 7 team, Stoops said, “Easier than it is two from three. So, come on, the further down the line you get, OK, quit complaining. You played so-and-so, and they played whatever, and no. It’ll be debated and it’ll be all over the papers and the airwaves because everybody wants something to talk about. And that’s OK. But the further you get away from two and three, so what? Your argument gets less, and people care less.”

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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