home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


December 6, 2009

Mitch Dorger

Bill Hancock

Paul Houlihan

John Junker

Eric Palms

John Swofford

AMY YAKOLA: Good evening. Welcome to tonight's Bowl Championship Series media teleconference with John Swofford, coordinator of the Bowl Championship Series arrangement; Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS; and the four BCS Bowl executives, which include Mitch Dorger, the Rose Bowl game presented by Citi; Eric Palms, FedEx Orange Bowl; Paul Houlihan, Allstate Sugar Bowl; and John Junker, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
The purpose of tonight's call is to answer any questions about the pairing and selection for the BCS Bowls. Shortly after this call each BCS Bowl will also have a teleconference. We will begin tonight's teleconference with opening remarks from Commissioner Swofford.
COMMISSIONER SWOFFORD: Thank you, and let me thank each of you for joining us tonight. I want to take just a couple of minutes to go over the selection process and then Bill, our new executive director of the BCS, as well as the respective Bowl executives that are on the call and I will be happy to try and answer any questions that you may have.
There were seven automatic qualifying teams this year: Georgia Tech from the ACC, Cincinnati from the Big East, Ohio State from the Big Ten, Texas from the Big 12, Oregon from the Pac-10, and Alabama from the SEC, as well as TCU by virtue of being the highest ranked team within the top 12 from a non-automatic qualifying conference.
As a result of today's final BCS standings, the National Championship game will feature No. 1 Alabama versus No. 2 Texas in the Citi BCS National Championship game.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl selected Florida as an at-large to replace Alabama, who of course will play for the National Championship. The Allstate Sugar Bowl also selected Cincinnati, an automatic qualifier, to face Florida.
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl selected TCU as an automatic qualifier to replace Texas, who will play for the National Championship. The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl selected Boise State, an at-large selection, to face TCU.
The FedEx Orange Bowl will feature ACC champion Georgia Tech, an automatic qualifier. The FedEx Orange Bowl also selected Iowa from the Big Ten as an at-large selection.
In the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi, Pac-10 champion Oregon will play Big Ten champion Ohio State, both automatic qualifiers.
As a result of the way the Bowls made the selections, it's interesting to note that for the first time the top ten teams in the final BCS standings are also the ten teams competing in the BCS Bowls. Those were today's selections and the match-ups that we look forward to as part of this year's Bowl season.
AMY YAKOLA: Thank you, Commissioner. At this time we can begin the Q & A.

Q. This question is for John Junker from the Fiesta Bowl or John Swofford or both. I wondered what went into selecting TCU to play Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl?
JOHN JUNKER: There were many, many considerations, and I think what our group looked at was attempting to get a very high ranked team that was one contending for a National Championship consideration. TCU has done all the things necessary. They played a strong schedule, finished the season undefeated, and additionally I'd note that there were other teams we looked at, but candidly TCU is really in our region, and their fans can access our game, so that was a final plus.

Q. This is for the Orange Bowl executive director. Cincinnati was ranked 3rd and the highest available team, and they were in your game last year. What was your thought process in taking Iowa over them?
ERIC PALMS: That's a good question. I mean, from a selection process standpoint, we looked at every team that was in the top 14 that was eligible to be picked. We had to follow suit after the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, and in the end we saw a team in Iowa that was 9 and 0 and had an unfortunate end to the year but still played tough at the end. They had a great fan base, not only in Iowa but across the country. In the end we thought it was the best match up for Georgia Tech. We have a great respect for Cincinnati. We think they have a great match-up in the Allstate Sugar Bowl playing Florida, but we'd prefer not to have a repeat team.

Q. For John Junker, non-BCS teams have rated historically low and consistently low in BCS games, even the Boise game that you had that was so great, barely anyone watched. I'm wondering how much that was taken into consideration when you went through this?
JOHN JUNKER: We talked to our partners at Fox Sports, and we had a very sound advice from them. We think that they liked the match-up and we think it'll be very interesting to the viewers across America. We felt very good about Fox's advice in that regard. I think as TCU has played throughout the season toward the top of the rankings and Boise's increasing emergence as a program that succeeds, that it will only continue to grow.

Q. This is also for John Junker. Obviously you're making a statement there selecting two non-automatic qualifier teams. Was there any thought to the process that they won't be taking on a team from the BCS conference as far as the perception there?
JOHN JUNKER: Really none, and in fact, I guess I'd amend a little bit to say TCU is from a non-automatic qualifying but was an automatic qualifier by the agreement. So we really looked only at trying to arrange the most compelling match-up possible, and we were delighted -- you know, it's amazing to think that only 19 times in 80 years have undefeated teams met in Bowl games. That means any Bowl game, a National Championship game or any of the other rich history of Bowl games. So when you had a chance to match two undefeated teams, it was so us a very compelling story and something that we think will be of great interest to the country.

Q. For Eric Palms, Eric, the choice of Iowa over Penn State in your game, could you discuss that a little bit, how much of a consideration was Penn State?
ERIC PALMS: Well, of course we looked at every team in the top 14, and that's a difficult decision. You have a great respect for both programs, had tremendous years. But in the end, the head-to-head victory that Iowa had at Penn State was impressionable. In the end they were three spots ahead in the BCS poll. We felt in the end Iowa really deserved it. They won it on the field and they won it in every comparative that led to the BCS rankings. We were unanimous in our position that Iowa was the best choice.

Q. For John Swofford, I suppose this doesn't get you off the hook on the access to the championship game, but do you feel the inclusion of the two schools from non-AQ conferences addresses some complaints about access to the system?
COMMISSIONER SWOFFORD: Well, I think it certainly shows that there's more access than ever before in terms of the BCS system, and if you look back over recent years, there's a consistency there in terms of that access for the non-automatic qualifying conferences that I think is evident and also very healthy for college football.

Q. This question is for John Junker. What was the situation surrounding had Nebraska upset Texas last night? Would you have still went with Boise State or TCU in that position, or would you have been prepared to take a Big Ten team hypothetically?
JOHN JUNKER: You know, that's a very difficult question, and we were pondering that one as it appeared the game had concluded and began to ponder that, but then learned that we might not have to consider that question. Candidly, we weren't prepared to answer that until we knew if we had Nebraska in the game or not. So that would be speculation because our committee never really met on that.
I'd only say that it was a tremendous Big-12 Championship game, and I think it's another reason why you look at those games yesterday around the country, in Tampa and Pittsburgh and Dallas and other games, as well, and it's another reason why we're very fond at the Fiesta Bowl of calling college football the greatest game in the world.

Q. My question is also for John Junker. John, you talked about matching two undefeated schools. You had a chance to match two undefeated schools with TCU and Cincinnati, which was actually higher ranked than Boise. Can you talk about that decision in the context of the Cincinnati question?
JOHN JUNKER: Yes, great question, and we did consider that and considered it very strongly and loved the season that Cincinnati had and the great win they had yesterday.
It really came down to a simple assessment of accessibility to our game by the fans, and when you really boil it down, I think it's really kind of a coefficient of about a thousand-mile difference that Boise is almost 1,000 miles closer to our game for access to more of their fans. We didn't consult the Sugar Bowl on this, but just looking up on Map Quest, Cincinnati is about 1,000 miles closer to New Orleans. So I'm estimating it might be 800, 850, but in general, I think the key for us was looking at accessibility to our game, and it's simply just much easier for the fans from Boise to be here, and we looked at it in terms of TCU as a first selection regionally, that we have two teams in our region that can easily access our game.

Q. I respect the fact that you have two undefeated teams. One of the few beauties of this BCS system in my opinion is it allows non-BCS teams to go in and beat BCS automatic qualifying teams, and in this case you don't have that chance. Did you consider that at all, because I don't know how many people outside Boise and the Dallas Fort Worth area remember who won the Poinsettia Bowl last year.
JOHN JUNKER: I think in all respect I'd say it's a different year, different teams, different rankings, all the rest. But I think that those teams are quality teams in every way, and if they're not good enough to play each other, why should they be good enough to play AQ teams. We see it as taking a large chunk out of the glass ceiling, if one indeed existed, and we think we should look at those teams underneath the same prism in terms of the interest in the game and all the rest, and they're both playing top six competitors. They're playing undefeated teams, and we think it qualifies in every standard that we measure a game as being a very successful game.

Q. This is for John Junker. I wanted to ask, do you talk to each school about the possible match-ups, or is it a deal where you guys sit around and decide what you feel the best match-up is? I was hearing that some TCU fans may have emailed not wanting to play Boise again because those two played in the Poinsettia Bowl last year. Was there any discussion about that at all?
JOHN JUNKER: We don't do too much match making between the teams. From time to time it may come up in casual conversation, but we're not in the practice of allowing Team A to name its opponent and Team B. We think we're in the business of doing that and that's part of the obligation and responsibility that goes with us being in the BCS. I know that both universities have requested more than their allotment of tickets, and from everything we hear, there's a tremendous amount of excitement in both University communities in terms of the match-up, and I'm sure you'll see a full house and lots of excitement in the match-up.
I think maybe it's time for people to think outside the box a little bit about AQ and non-AQ. This is a match-up of two undefeated teams that deserve a chance to play it, so let's get the game on and see how it works out.
BILL HANCOCK: I'd like to follow up on John's answer because he made a very good point. This shows more than anything, I believe, that the BCS is open and willing to have all match-ups. You know, it's so important to remember that in the 54 years before this started, teams from these conferences were in these Bowl games six times, six in 54 years, and now they've been in there five out of the last six years, and of course, twice in one year. And I think that's a phenomenal statement about the openness and the opportunities that have been created by the BCS.

Q. Eric, I was wondering were there any other teams other than Iowa and Penn State that you guys considered?
ERIC PALMS: Absolutely. We looked at everybody in the top 14 throughout the last week, and certainly those that were right outside that would have an opportunity to get in the top 14. By virtue of the fact that the SEC Championship game featured Florida and Alabama and one of them was going to move on to the National Championship game, we knew the Allstate Sugar Bowl would have the initial pick, and then if Texas won against Nebraska, which they did in a great game, that they also would have a pick before us. So on our radar screen was everybody from TCU to Cincinnati to Boise to Iowa and Penn State. In the end having the opportunity to have a shot at a Big Ten conference University was compelling. We had Cincinnati in our game last year, and in terms of regionality, Boise State was a good ways away. We knew the Big Ten was probably our best bet, and as I mentioned earlier during this conference call, with Iowa's head-to-head victory over Penn State and their finish in the BCS poll three spots above Penn State, we unanimously selected Iowa.

Q. This is for Paul. Cincinnati got passed over by a couple of teams. How confident are you in their ability to sell out their ticket allotment and the enthusiasm their fans will bring to come to the game?
PAUL HOULIHAN: I'm totally confident they'll be able to sell their ticket allotment, and I think they're going to be a team that's going to show tremendous fan support. Look what they've accomplished there. This is quite a phenomenal situation when you take a look and stand back and see where they were and where they are today. Any of their fan base that's not motivated by the performance that they had yesterday to come back and win that game and basically keep their record clean, untainted record, and have an opportunity to play Florida, the whole story is really quite phenomenal. I think we're going to get their attention, and we'll probably get a real strong following.

Q. Bill, I understand what you're saying about what a good deal it is to get these non-AQ teams in, but I just have to ask the general question about you've obviously got three teams that went undefeated that don't have a chance for the National Championship, and how do you sort of explain the fairness issue to them under the system you've got right now?
BILL HANCOCK: That's a good question and a fair question. The fact is that the charge of the BCS is to match 1 and 2 within the Bowl system, and it's a limited charge. That's what the BCS is designed to do, and based on the season's play, we're confident that we have matched 1 and 2.
If we had a four-team playoff, I would ask the question of anybody on the call or even those goofy hijackers which four teams would you put in a four-team playoff, which of those five. It's very difficult. There's lots of problems with playoffs besides that.
But we absolutely recognize five undefeated teams had very good seasons, and the fact is that only two could play in the game.

Q. People kind of dance around this question, but I figured I'd ask it directly. Matching TCU and Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, a lot of people are going to perceive that you guys are trying to keep an AQ conference team from being embarrassed like Alabama was against Utah last year. What would you say to that?
BILL HANCOCK: I think the answer is clear that a Bowl has a prerogative to choose its match-ups, and Mr. Junker would have no such agenda.

Q. A big-picture question for either Bill or John, and maybe Bill because it's your dance going forward here. You guys have been mocked for hiring a PR firm. Your Twitter feed, from what I've seen of it, is routinely becoming a running joke that it's no secret this system hasn't been popular. I'm doing something for the big picture tomorrow. Can you reiterate or remind people this is something we've got, it may not be popular but this is what we have at least until 2014?
BILL HANCOCK: Well, that's the case. The system is contracted for the next four years. We do feel like it's working. College football is thriving, and we feel like the BCS has at least -- played at least some part in that. Yeah, we recognize that there are elements in these constituencies, the fans, some elements in each group that doesn't like it, but the fact is that it has a consensus. The critics, the playoff proponents, do not have a consensus. The BCS has a consensus of the 120 schools, and the other side just doesn't. We're proud of the BCS. We think it has been very successful, and it's proven this year, maybe more so than ever before, that it's been successful.
AMY YAKOLA: That concludes tonight's media teleconference, and we appreciate you for joining us.

End of FastScripts

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297