Bill Hancock, a Hobart native and OU graduate, is the executive director of the College Football Playoff, which begins with the 2014 season.
Hancock spent 13 years running the NCAA basketball tournament, 1989-2002, then in 2005 took over as chief administrator of the Bowl Championship Series.
Hancock spoke Thursday at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame’s quarterly leadership luncheon about the impending four-team playoff. Here are some excerpts on his talks:
On the importance of college football’s regular season:
“We negotiated a playoff in 2012 over six months, in very difficult negotiations. But our group had one thing in mind, and that was to preserve the regular season. College football has the best regular season in sports. Everything is centered in the regular season.
“We had to preserve the importance of that. If we had an eight-team, or 16-team, or 24-team tournament, there’s some tipping point beyond which the regular season would be diminished. And we just didn’t want to do that.”
On picking the 13-person selection committee:
“They will seed them, they will pair them in the bowls. It will be the most scrutinized committee in the history of college sports. I’m convinced of that.
“We have 13 people. They are an absolute all-star team. We wanted to have different classifications of people. We didn’t want all coaches. We didn’t want all players.
“It started with integrity. If you don’t have integrity. You’re not going to be on this list. Then they dispatched me to go call the people and invite them to be on the committee. I began to make my phone calls, and only two people I called couldn’t do it. One didn’t have time, and the other was a TV announcer. I had to ask him to give up his TV gig, and he said he just couldn’t do it. Everyone else was eager and excited.”
On committee members Jeff Long (Arkansas athletic director), Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin AD), Mike Gould (former superintendent, Air Force Academy), Pat Haden (Southern Cal AD), Tom Jernstedt (former NCAA executive vice president), Oliver Luck (West Virginia AD), Archie Manning (former Ole Miss and NFL quarterback), Tom Osborne (former Nebraska coach and AD), Dan Radakovich (Clemson AD), Condoleezza Rice (Stanford professor), Mike Tranghese (former Big East commissioner), Steve Wieberg (former USA Today writer) and Tyrone Willingham (former Notre Dame coach).
“It’s a great group. They will be heavily scrutinized. And I will say to you that if OU or OSU is No. 5, I want to apologize today, because you’re not going to be happy with me or with the committee.
“We did not create this playoff to avoid scrutiny or avoid contention. We created it because fans wanted more football and they wanted a bracket. Team (No.) 5 is going to be just as disappointed as Team (No.) 3 was. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because we have an event that people want to participate in.”
On if committee members will be recused from discussing schools with which they are affiliated:
“Yeah, they will. We haven’t announced the full policy yet, we’re still working on it. But they will be recuse themselves. And for sure, if you’re working at a school, you’ll be recused. So Barry Alvarez will be recused from Wisconsin, Dan Radakovich from Clemson, Jeff Long from Arkansas. I think Dr. Osborne will be recused from Nebraska, because he still has an office there.”