The Valero Alamo Bowl hosted a reception featuring BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock on Wednesday, October 5, 2011. The presentation he delivered is here. Below is a list of questions bowl supporters, volunteers, social media followers as well as Board and Committee members asked Bill followed by his answers.
How has the recent conference realignment left the state of the BCS?
We are like everyone else, we are just watching and waiting to see what happens. I can’t envision any changes in conference membership that would cause a seismic change in the BCS. The BCS has the strong support of university presidents, commissioners, coaches and athletics directors, because it allows the top two teams to meet in a bowl game while preserving the bowl system for the benefit of thousands of young people every year. That will not change, no matter how many teams are in a conference.
What will happen to the BCS if “super conferences” are formed?
I do not sense any sentiment to separate from the NCAA, if that’s what you are asking. I do think institutions and conferences appreciate the opportunity to make rules that realistically apply to themselves and their peer. Personally, I think 12 schools is a nice number for a conference, but that’s not to say that larger or smaller groups can’t work.
Is the BCS fair to the non-BCS conferences?
Yes, it is. First of all, there’s no such thing as a “non-BCS conference”. That term is incorrectly used by media. All 11 are BCS conferences; I work for all 11, and they all have a say in BCS matters.
Of course, I know you are referring to the conferences that have not earned annual automatic qualification into the BCS games. They all have an opportunity to earn a berth. In fact, the access for that group into the top-tier bowl games is exponentially better than it ever has been. Teams that are currently members of those five conferences participated in these four bowl games five times in the 54 years before the BCS and its predecessors were created. They’ve participated seven times in the past seven years. That’s worth repeating: five times in 54 years vs. seven times in seven years—all because of the BCS.
What do you say to all the people who are insisting there be a playoff system in college football?
Well, I work for the 11 conference commissioners and college presidents and a strong majority of them support the system we have today. There are two primary reasons for that. First, we have the best regular season in sports—the most meaningful and the most compelling from start to finish. The second reason is that we have a bowl system that rewards 70 groups of athletes with a remarkable experience at the end of the year. Those two things are worth fighting for.
What does the bowl experience mean to student-athletes today?
It’s a week that they will remember forever. They get to spend time in a different culture. They’re the talk of the town. They play on national television. Their families usually get to join them in the bowl city. The words, “I played in a bowl game” are magic.
Will other bowls, like the Valero Alamo Bowl, have the opportunity to become part of the BCS in the future?
The Valero Alamo Bowl is highly respected. Of course, San Antonio is a wonderful destination, and the bowl itself is run exceptionally well. The conference commissioners and presidents will soon begin discussions about the format for the future. It’s not appropriate for me to speculate, but I must say that I don’t sense a strong groundswell for adding more games to the BCS. We’ll see.
Do you think a playoff system will ever be put into place in college football?
No, I don’t think we will see an NFL-style payoff in college football. The bowl system just brings wonderful benefits to those thousands of students every year.
What is right about the BCS?
We have the best regular season in sports. We have a bowl system that thousands of students get to enjoy every year. I knew we were doing it right when I read about how much the Kansas State players enjoyed their trip to New York City last December. We must not lose sight of that.
And we have a championship game that draws higher ratings than the Final Four, NBA playoffs, MLB playoffs and the big golf tournaments. College basketball, a sport that I love so much, has four weeks of madness beginning with the conference tournaments, but in football you get four months of it. Every game counts.
Is there going to be a singular event that will finally get people to understand the benefits of the BCS?
We are moving the needle. More people understand the benefits of the current post-season people. Through transparency and some good old-fashioned person-to-person communications, we are making progress.
Is the Big 12 Conference viable and what do you make of all this college realignment?
Yes, I feel strongly that the Big 12 is viable. Those are great universities with great athletic and academic traditions. I think this central corridor of American needs a conference, so I certainly hope I’m right. Many smart people, people with authority, want it to continue.
Having said that, I know that the last few weeks have not been our finest hour. Some have said they are embarrassed by it, and I don’t disagree. But schools have changed conferences forever. The best perspective on all this will come from history. We are in the middle of it right now; we will have to look back ten years from now to decide on if the outcome was good or bad.
Do you think the BCS should implement more aggressive educational campaigns?
I spend much of my time helping people understand the benefits of the BCS arrangement, but we can always do more. I enjoy talking about this; I’m proud to be able to do it.
How will conference realignment affect the Valero Alamo Bowl?
The bowls negotiate with the conferences will continue, no matter how realignment ends up. Each bowl will go out and make the best arrangement it can with its conferences. There are plenty of great teams in this region who would love to participate in the Alamo Bowl, and I’m confident that it will continue to grow.
Do you think there could be a happy medium between the BCS and a playoff system?
Not if that “medium” negatively affects the regular season or the bowl experience for the athletes. The conference commissioners are committed to making the BCS the best it can be. In the next few months, they will discuss what “best” means. They will talk to people on campus, then get together and express their people’s wishes. Then they will collaboratively decide about the future.