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December 3, 2009

Bill Hancock

John Swofford

AMY YAKOLA: Thank you, and welcome to today's teleconference with John Swofford, commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference and coordinator of the Bowl Championship Series arrangement, and Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS. We'll begin today's teleconference by asking Commissioner Swofford to describe the sequence the commissioners and the bowl representatives will use in the selection process on Sunday.
JOHN SWOFFORD: Amy, thank you. First of all, let me say how pleased I have to have Bill Hancock here today as the executive director of the BCS, and as we transition from the coordinator's approach, which has rotated among four of the conferences in the past, to having a full-time executive director, which we think will bring us more continuity and focus on a day-to-day and overall basis, Bill is someone who knows the BCS inside and out, someone who understands the inner workings of the BCS, appreciates the internal politics of it, and has been in the meetings and heard the discussions for four years now. He will do an outstanding job in this newly-created position.
Amy, in response to your first question in terms of Sunday and the processes, the first thing that will happen is that the automatic qualifiers will be identified, and it appears that there will be seven of those this year. As you know, we have six AQs from the conferences, plus the highest rated champion of the five conferences without automatic qualification, as long as that highest rated champion is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS poll. And obviously it appears that that will be the case.
Next the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the final BCS standings will be placed into the National Championship Game, which will be played in Pasadena. Then the host teams will be slotted into their host bowls. And finally, the teams eligible for at-large selection will be identified. And those teams have to be ranked in the top 14 of the final BCS standings. At that point, the bowls begin the selection process.
First, if the No. 1 team in the standings is a host team with a bowl, then that bowl will choose a replacement from the remaining automatic qualifiers or at-large teams, and of course the replacement team cannot be a team in the National Championship Game or the host team of another bowl.
Then if the No. 2 team in the final standings is a host team, then that bowl which it would have hosted will choose a replacement team from the remaining automatic qualifiers or at-large teams.
Once this is complete, then the FedEx Orange Bowl will make its selection. The Orange Bowl has the first selection this year, as it's the bowl played on the date farthest away from January 1. And the Orange Bowl this year is played on January 5th. Then the Fiesta Bowl will select, then the Sugar Bowl will select.
Amy, in a nutshell, that will be the process that will take place on Sunday afternoon with the commissioners and the bowls.
AMY YAKOLA: At this time I think we're ready to open it up for questions.

Q. Take me through a little bit, I'm kind of interested in how the day breaks down. When do you guys meet, and how many phone calls and all do you have to make among the respective bowls? How many hours does the process take, and how much are you guys working the phones keeping tabs with the Fiesta, Orange or whoever, with what their thinking process is?
JOHN SWOFFORD: The day can vary from year to year. Just to give you some idea of the sequence of the day, at 12:30 the coaches' poll and the computer polls are due; at 2:30 the Harris Interactive Poll is due in; about 3:00 the final BCS standings are emailed to the commissioners, to the bowls and to our television partners; and then at 4:00, that is our first teleconference where we have the commissioners, the bowl representatives, Fox and ABC all on at the same time, and that is the point at which we begin going through the selection process.

Q. You get asked this every year, but how big a role does TV ratings play in this?
JOHN SWOFFORD: Well, you know, with us I don't think it really plays a big role. When you get to the at-large selections with the bowls, they are making their selections based on multiple aspects of what they look for for a successful game, and among, of course, the teams that are available.

Q. Could you talk about what you know about the Fox presentation show or selection show, and have the commissioners been happy with the amount of time and attention that Fox has given it this year, and I'm curious -- ESPN has indicated to you that they will be doing next year, because it seemed to me that Fox has given it about 10 seconds at the end of the NFL score shows.
JOHN SWOFFORD: Bill is going to answer that.
BILL HANCOCK: This is Bill Hancock. They didn't give it ten seconds that one day; they gave it 22 seconds.
We have been very happy with Fox. They have brought a new enthusiasm and a real passion for the BCS that we have very much enjoyed. We've enjoyed working with their people, and we will miss them. Having said that, we are excited about the next four years with ESPN.
As for Fox's show on Sunday, they will be doing remotes at some campuses. They haven't finalized which ones yet, and they will be announcing the pairings throughout that half-hour window.
ESPN has not made a decision about how exactly they're going to do it, other than they believe a Sunday night show works in their best interest, and it certainly works in our best interest. It might be a little earlier on Sunday evening, but I think we can envision the same kind of half-hour program on ESPN that Fox has been doing.

Q. The other question would be maybe for either one of you, do you feel like if Nebraska defeats Texas you have the possibility of a rematch between Florida and Alabama for the championship game? What do you see as that possibility, and do you feel like the reaction to it would be positive or negative or what?
JOHN SWOFFORD: You know, we really don't -- I don't think it's our place to speculate on what may come about. As you know, there are no rules or regulations that would prohibit a rematch. It's something we've never had before. But I think we'd just have to let the games play out through the weekend to really see what Sunday will look like.

Q. I know you get asked this every year, but here's this year's version. With as many as three unbeaten teams on Sunday that would not be playing for the National Championship, how do you characterize the resolution in terms of the satisfaction that you will have that the right two teams are going to be playing for the championship? And as a second part, is it more difficult for you guys when unbeaten teams are left out as opposed to one-loss teams on the sideline?
BILL HANCOCK: I can talk about that for sure. First of all, it is premature for us to talk about anything that might happen this weekend in the games, but the goal -- the BCS was set up to match 1 and 2. It's a pretty simple mission. And it's been very successful at that.
You know, we've asked ourselves the question many times, if there were a four-team playoff, now today, which four teams would qualify. And it's a very difficult question to answer.
So I think we have to remember the limited goal of the BCS, and that goal and mission was agreed to by all 11 of the conferences.
I know for me personally in the years that I was involved in the basketball tournament, I was thrilled for the athletes that got the opportunity to play, and I realize that many times you couldn't slide a piece of paper between two of the teams; that's how close and how similar they were. That happens in every selection every year. I'm sure something like that will happen at some point again this weekend.

Q. This is either for John or Bill. Are you getting a sense that among the bowls outside of the championship game, say like the Fiesta, the Orange and the Sugar, economic considerations play a bigger role this year, particularly with certain states and certain regionalities looking at budget deficits and things like that, that they would want maybe a little extra incentive or extra assuredness that their stadium is going to be full and that will impact who they may choose?
BILL HANCOCK: I don't see an especially different emphasis on that this year than in the past. The bowls make decisions based on what's best for them. They like to have good match-ups. I'm not sensing a great deal of extra emphasis on that. Clearly the economy is dictating how we all behave, but I'm not hearing the bowls talking about that any more than they have in the past.

Q. Bill, one last thing about the bowls and talking about what they're looking for. Oklahoma State by losing the other day took you out of the equation of having the Fiesta Bowl, possibly choosing between a non-automatic qualifying team and Oklahoma State, where it had the decision. How independent, and maybe John, you can answer this, are the Bowls in their selections in a situation like that?
BILL HANCOCK: You know, they're altogether independent. The BCS is a hybrid system. As John said before, it looks like there's going to be seven AQs and three at larges and the bowls have 100 percent autonomy for those three.
The bowls are proud of the fact, like we are, that we've been so successful in matching No. 1 and No. 2. In the 56 years before the coalition started, 1 and 2 played in the bowl game only eight times, and in the 11 years of the BCS, according to our standings, 1 and 2 have played every time, and according to AP even, 8 of the 11.
So the BCS has been remarkably successful in meeting its objective of getting 1 and 2 to play in a bowl game which happened very seldom before the BCS. The bowls recognize that, and they appreciate that.
JOHN SWOFFORD: The only thing I would add, that I would emphasize that independence in terms of the bowls, as the BCS per se, which really isn't an entity, has nothing to do with the selection at that point in time other than previously having the conferences agree upon the selection parameters, and then when selection time comes, the bowls make their selections within those given parameters.

Q. How much is it talked about and debated? I understand the bowls all have their necessity, but there's always this case where teams may have met in the regular season and one beaten the other, or one team maybe has a tougher schedule and all that, and I guess the word you almost end up using is deserving; one team maybe appears to be more deserving than another. How much is that discussed when it comes to selecting at-large teams?
JOHN SWOFFORD: Discussed with whom?

Q. Within each other, within the committee. If I'm on that Fiesta Bowl committee, if I'm on the Orange Bowl committee or if I'm just talking with you guys through the process, how much is discussed of, well, this team did beat that team during the regular season, maybe that should factor into our decision.
JOHN SWOFFORD: Well, that's discussed within the bowl committees, not among the commissioners on Sunday. That discussion takes place among the bowl committee members in terms of making their selection.

Q. Is that something you guys talk about or stress maybe even before the process begins, that we want to try to get a representation of success in the regular season?
JOHN SWOFFORD: No, it's not. That's something we don't involve ourselves in with the bowls. We see that as their purview.

Q. Can you address a little bit, there's a chance for the second year in a row Boise State is going to get left out with an undefeated record, and obviously there was a lot of noise in Congress last year, and is that a concern at all that some of that noise becomes a little bit of a problem down the road?
BILL HANCOCK: We cannot jump to any conclusions today about what's going to happen this weekend. I think it may not be appropriate for me to say too much more about what might happen in the future.
I will say this: There's been talk about Congress, and with everything that's happening in the country, we believe that Congress has better things to do than dive into postseason football.

Q. So not worried about it at all?
BILL HANCOCK: I think what I said will stand.

Q. At some point do you guys talk to the bowls about that at all, that hey, we need to take care of a team here or there, or do you just totally stay out of it?
BILL HANCOCK: The commissioners and I, we stay out of it. It's their decision. The BCS is a hybrid. It's a contract between the conferences and the bowls, and we have television partners. The bowls retain that autonomy to pick their teams. This year they're going to have three choices, and we don't become involved in their decisions.

Q. I just wanted to ask a follow-up to a question you were asked earlier. With all the undefeated teams, I was wondering how you know No. 1 and No. 2 are the two best teams.
BILL HANCOCK: I think the answer to that is no matter what format, there will be questions. And I'll go back to in a four-team playoff, how would you know which four teams should play? In an eight-team playoff today, who would you choose? 16? It's very difficult.
JOHN SWOFFORD: But what we have is a process to determine 1 and 2, and that has been agreed upon by the 11 conferences.
BILL HANCOCK: This might be helpful. There's 170-some humans who participate in the two human polls, and of course the six computers who have been crunching data all season. It's a good base of people. It's very representative geographically of the country. Both the Harris Poll and the coaches' poll are quite diverse. Every conference has basically equal representation, and we feel very good about the process. And we have been very successful.
If you look at the AP Poll, it's probably worth going back to this, that of the 11 years of the BCS, eight of those 11, AP has agreed on the 1 and 2. So the BCS has been very successful.

Q. Understanding that you guys are very successful within the narrow scope of your mission, which is to take the data and to match 1 and 2 at the end of the year, are you sensitive to the criticism that comes from outside because the process isn't more inclusive? I know all the conferences have agreed on the six. The five have agreed, but they would rather be more regular participants. Are you sensitive to the fact that while these 177 people and the computers have done the best job with the data available at their disposal that there might not be a better way to do it somewhere down the road such as a playoff?
BILL HANCOCK: I don't know about sensitive. I do know that every conference had a chance to earn automatic qualification through that four-year evaluation period, and the six earned it. We're just finishing the second year of a new four-year evaluation period. Those five conferences have more access to these bowl games than ever before, far more. They played in the games six times in the 45 years before the BCS, and they've played in them four of the last five years, and they're getting ready to play in there five of the last six years.
Their access has been remarkable. And it has given them a tremendous platform that they wouldn't have had before. We would never have had Boise State-Oklahoma without the BCS. We would obviously never have had -- we never would have had Texas-USC without the BCS, Oklahoma-Florida. This event has been very successful, and we're proud of it.

Q. If Clemson wins your ACC Championship Game, would that, do you believe, prohibit or keep the Orange Bowl from matching them against TCU since they've already played?
JOHN SWOFFORD: There's nothing of a regulatory nature that would prohibit that match-up, no.

Q. In your opinion what would happen, though?
JOHN SWOFFORD: I won't give -- I can't give my opinion on that. It wouldn't mean anything anyway. That would be up to the Orange Bowl and how the Orange Bowl evaluates their selection at the time that they select.
AMY YAKOLA: Just wanted to remind anyone that the next BCS media call with both John Swofford and Bill Hancock will be at 8:30 p.m., which is eastern time, on Sunday, December 6. This call is in conjunction with the announcement of the pairings, and the number to call on December 6th at 8:30 is (888) 797-2982.
I think that concludes today's tell conference, and we appreciate you all being with us.

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