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Hancock Discusses BCS, Playoff

With the 16th and final season of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) era set to begin this week, executive director Bill Hancock reflected on the institution’s legacy in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Last year's BCS National Championship Game between Notre Dame and Alabama pitted the Associated Press' top two teams against each other for the ninth straight year.

“The BCS has been remarkably successful,” he said. “It’s been controversial, but as we get ready to bid it goodbye, we know there’s a lot that it did right.

“I believe history will view the BCS favorably for all the good that it has done for the game that we love, for the postseason and for the student-athletes.”

The BCS has endured countless criticism during its existence, but Hancock emphasized that the system has mostly achieved the top priority: pitting No. 1 and No. 2 against each other to decide a champion.

“The BCS did not bring an end to contention, it did help establish order and consensus in the postseason,” he said. “The AP’s No. 1 and 2 teams met in bowl games only eight times in 56 seasons before the BCS. Think about how unhappy fans would be if that were still continuing today, but the BCS fixed that problem. Yeah, it was tricky and we had to adjust the way we ranked the teams frequently in the early years, but that’s been almost 10 years ago. By all measurement … according to the AP, it happened 12 times in the last 15 years, including the last nine in a row.”

Maintaining the integrity of the regular season, growing the sport’s popularity and access for smaller conferences are three byproducts of the 15-year BCS legacy, Hancock said.

“This is a golden period of college football, (the) regular season has increased by nearly 40 percent since the BCS started and not every sport can claim that kind of growth, but we can,” he said. “The BCS television ratings certainly surpass the Final Four and MLB World Series as well as the NBA and NHL playoffs.”

As the BCS chapter comes to a close and anticipation builds for the College Football Playoff after the 2014 regular season, Hancock, the 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick are focused on determining the members of the playoff selection committee. Hancock said the group would be composed of 12 to 18 members, but he set not timetable for an announcement.

“We’re making progress on the selection committee,” Hancock said. “We’re not finished, but I am in the process of making calls to prospective committee members, and it’s going quite well. Everything is on target. We’ve got a lot more talking to do and it’s going to take a while and that’s why we don’t have a deadline, so it’s really too soon to say when we’ll be finished. We all feel good about where we are.”

Hancock added that the members, of whom a “significant time commitment” will be required, will be able to use any data they find to be useful when determining the playoff field.

While the first national championship game under the new format will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in Jan. 2015, cities have until Sept. 27 to apply for the 2016 and 2017 championship games.

“A city cannot host the championship game in a year that it hosts the semifinals,” Hancock said. “We look at broad categories, things like lodging, the overall stadium itself, not just capacity, but the user-friendliness of the stadium, airline arrivals and departures in the city every day, and the ability of the city to put on an event of this nature.”

“I do think the cities that are in the mix for this have all demonstrated through the Final Four or SuperBowl or other significant events that it has the human infrastructure in a city to host this event. … We’re happy with the cities who have responded with questions so far and I think as we get close to the deadline, we’ll be please with a number of cities who have tossed their hat into the ring.”

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