Bill Hancock believes the United States government has plenty more to worry about than college football, but that doesn’t mean he’s not looking forward to a meeting with the Justice Department later this summer. Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, said late last week that the Justice Department had requested a background briefing on the BCS after receiving several requests to conduct an anti-trust investigation.
Hancock is certainly no stranger to defending the BCS and his argument has never really changed. He believes the current BCS format is the best because it ensures the top two teams play for the national championship, gives players a rewarding end-of-season experience and preserves the importance of the regular season.
But advocates for a playoff system seem to multiply by the day and now the Justice Department would like to know why college football doesn’t have a playoff like most other college sports. Hancock and the BCS were given the voluntary option to be a part of the process, and in the following interview Hancock explains why he eagerly accepted.
Bill Hancock joined 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh with Vinnie and Cook to discuss the reaction he receives from fans regarding the BCS, why it’s better than a playoff system, the argument that it keeps teams from non-BCS conferences from playing for a championship, his upcoming meeting with the Justice Department, if it’s unfair that politicians are getting involved, how the recent Ohio State news will affect college football and why it will continue to thrive despite that news.
What kind of reaction does he get from fans when they talk with him about the BCS?:
“It’s mixed. People that are very close to college football believe in the system we have and know this is a game for students. People that are not quite as close to it would usually prefer an NFL-style playoff. I love talking about it.”
Why is what we have now better than a playoff system?:
“It’s better, in our opinion, because it guarantees the matchup of the top two teams in the bowl system, while keeping the bowls, which are a terrific reward for the athletes. Of course there’s the tradition of the bowls also, but to me the reward for the athletes is paramount. I love the basketball tournament. I was able to run it for a long time. I loved it; I still love it. But football and basketball are different. If we had a playoff in football, it would be a whole series of one-night business trips for the athletes. … What football offers them now is a multi-day experience in a different culture where they can relax and end their season with one of the great, traditional experiences in sports. … Also, to protect the regular season. We have the best regular season of any sport.”
What about those who argue that the current system is flawed to a point where you might not actually get the two best teams, or that it’s debatable?:
“That makes for a good hot-stove league conversation. But I really think if Boise State had made either of those two field goals against Nevada and somebody else had slipped, that an undefeated Boise State would’ve been in the championship game last year. They were this close to making it. I think it’s going to happen someday.”
What is he preparing to run into when he meets with the Department of Justice?:
“I think it will be fascinating. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s an opportunity for us to make it clear to those folks how the BCS was created and why and how it operates and all the benefits it’s brought to college football. Would I rather not go? Yeah, but you know when they called they were very nice and they said this is voluntary.”
Is it unfair that politicians are starting to get involved with this?:
“I’ve said before and I still feel this way, with all the challenges facing the country … I do think the government has more important things on it’s plate, but I do understand the political reasons for wanting to poke around in college football. What I intend to do is just go up and tell the justice people, ‘Hey, we are so much better than we’ve ever been before. College football’s more popular, there’s more access to the top level of college football than ever before, and that’s all come because of the BCS.'”
His thoughts on the recent news at Ohio State and how it affects college football:
“We all lose when something like that happens. I have known Coach Tressel through the years and respected him, but I don’t know the details. … But we absolutely all lose when something like that happens. I also think it’s unfair to paint innocent people with the same brush. I’ve heard those things that you and others have heard with people saying, ‘It’s going on everywhere.’ Well, who knows that? How do people know that? If it is, then the NCAA needs to stop that, but I just don’t think it’s happening quote, unquote, everywhere.”
Is college football strong enough to survive this?:
“Oh absolutely. This game is so popular. It’s like, can the popularity keep growing? Can it grow to the sky. … Attendance is up by 35 percent over the last 20 years, television ratings are going through the roof. It’s a remarkably popular game.”
Are we getting closer to a day when college athletes will be paid?:
“I don’t think so. I don’t see that. Those of us who have had children go to college know that there is a great deal of value in a college education that all the athletes receive. I’m intrigued by the possibility of increasing the benefits to match the full cost of tuition. … I do worry about where the money would come from at come schools, but I do not think we will go down the road toward pay for play. I certainly hope not.”