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October 16, 2013

Bill Hancock

Jeff Long

THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, and welcome to the first of four teleconferences this afternoon for the College Football Playoff selection committee.  I'm joined by Executive Director Bill Hancock and Selection Committee Chairman Jeff Long.
JEFF LONG:  I just want to echo what an honor and privilege it is for me to serve as the chair of this committee, and the committee members themselves are just an incredible group of men and woman who have joined this committee and will make my chairmanship that much easier.  So I'm excited and delighted to serve with them, and I'm eager to get to work with the business of the College Football Playoff.

Q.  In the fact sheets of the metrics, no metric will be identified as paramount over all over data.  Why was that established through this process?
JEFF LONG:  We wanted folks to know that we will not have a single metric such as the RPI but rather we will be using a broad spectrum of data about every team.

Q.  Do you have any details about that broad spectrum of data at this point?
JEFF LONG:  Well, a few.  Obviously every statistic on every team from rushing offense and defense, total offense and defense, turnover margin, penalties, just every football statistic that you can imagine probably and then some.

Q.  Jeff, kind of a Catch 22, we've heard the basketball committee chairman come out on selection Sunday and use the term "eye test."  Will that work in football, and contrarily, will it work to say that using the metric somebody had a better turnover margin?
JEFF LONG:  Well, I'm not really sure what the eye test means.  That's subjective.  But I will say that we've got 13 members of this committee, and there's going to be an unlimited amount of data on each and every team.  Each member of the committee will evaluate that data and it will mean something slightly different to each one of those committee members.  And then it's important to me that the ranking of 25 will be a composite of all 13 members and not just one individual member.
I don't know what the eye test really means, but I think that we will have data that we will evaluate, and it will be clear which data we use and what weighed most in our minds to come up with the final four teams.

Q.  Bill and others have said in the past that the top two have been pretty obvious in the BCS era.  I don't know what the number is, 12 out of 15, 10 out of 15.  How often do you anticipate that being the case with four teams?
JEFF LONG:¬† Well, to be honest, I haven't given it much thought, but to be honest each year is going to be different, and some years I think all four teams will be very clear‑cut and others it may be two.¬† I think that's hard to project at this point.¬† Once the committee meets and we set some process guidelines and know how we're going to evaluate various teams and evaluate the data we receive, it'll be hard to know whether there's two top teams on a consistent basis or not.

Q.  What is the sweet spot for revealing during the season what you guys are thinking, and what specifically will that be?  Will it be four?  Will it be 12?  Will it be a list of teams you're thinking about?  Have you guys gotten to that yet?
JEFF LONG:  No, but I think it'll be 25.  We're going to be focused on ranking 25 teams when we rank, and I think we've shared that we will get together about four or five times during the football season in person, and after each one of those meetings we would come out with our top 25 ranking.

Q.  Kind of along that line, you're going to be releasing standings each week, whereas the basketball committee only comes out with its final 65.  What was the thinking of having standings every week, and do you feel like that is going to lend itself to teams being slotted once they're at a certain spot in the standings how they're going to move ahead of a team that's ahead of them if both teams keep winning?
BILL HANCOCK:¬† First of all, the rankings will come out probably every other week, starting about mid‑season, and there will be four or five rankings during the year.¬† If there's one thing we learned in the BCS it's that the BCS standings each week helped the regular season.¬† They added more excitement to the regular season, and we want that to be a part of the playoff, as well.¬† We want folks to know where they stand.
We've decided the committee will rank 1 through 25 at the end of each meeting.  I mean, we think that's an important thing to do and important for the regular season.
That does not mean that anybody will be locked in.  The working concept is that the committee will start over at the next meeting and will not be influenced by how they've ranked teams before.  We all know that teams change during the season and that teams are going to change during the interval between these interim rankings from one to the other.

Q.  How much transparency will there be in the votes of the committee during the season and at the end?
BILL HANCOCK:  We're committed to making this as transparent as possible.  I think it's important to note that this will not be a matter of each committee member bringing in a top 25 list and having the numbers be averaged, but instead it will be a whole series of ballots, 12 ballots among a small number of teams that will take place during the meeting.  There could be as many as 30 or 35 different ballots.  So it will not be feasible for us to announce or list who voted for who when over those 30 ballots.
But again, we are committed to as transparent a process as possible, and we're considering something like the NCAA does with the mock selections.  We want folks to know the process.  We want them to know the procedures, and we want them to know the principles that the committee will operate under.

Q.¬† There's been a lot of attention given to Dr.Rice's inclusion.¬† Tyrone Willingham is the only African‑American male on the list.¬† In a sport where the majority of the players are black, was there more effort or is there concern that there's not enough representation there?

Q.¬† I've heard comparisons to the basketball committee on this, but how much is this really going to be different?¬† You're talking about No.5 versus No.69 or so.¬† You get into a situation like LSU in 2007 that was No.7 on Friday and No.2 on Sunday, I'm just wondering how you're going to deal with sort of the dramatic last‑weekend changes that are similar to basketball but obviously more consequential, I guess.
JEFF LONG:  Well, again, I think each individual member of the selection committee is going to look at that body of work and make a decision on where they think this team ranks and who is the best team 1 through 4 and all the way through 25.
There will be changes.  We don't know what they are, but we can anticipate that there will be changes.  I don't know if they will be dramatic or not, but there will be changes in each committee member's rankings as they get more data and more information to make their decision.

Q.  It said in the release that the ADs will not be representing their own conferences.  Not just them but pretty much everybody on the committee has ties to certain schools.  Has there been a formal kind of recusal process that's been devised?
JEFF LONG:  Actually that's one of the processes that the committee will take up in our first few meetings is starting to establish what that recusal process is.  Certainly anybody directly associated with an institution would recuse themselves from any discussion or voting on that institution, but beyond that we haven't worked that out, and we will do that as a committee with the management committee, as well.

Q.  Just wanted to ask you, Bill, I know I asked you this a while back, but will any of the committee members be paid for this service, including Mr.Long?
BILL HANCOCK:  No, there will be no stipends for any committee member.
JEFF LONG:  We consider this as what we're giving back to the game.  I know I do.  I consider my time that I'm giving back to the game for the love of the game and what the game has done for me.  I'm eager to serve without any remuneration.

Q.¬† Bill, you might be able to speak to this:¬† The difference in time commitment and workload vis‑√°‑vis the basketball committee, if you're talking about 12 meetings, for instance, what are the logistics of those and how much time actually will these men and women be taking from their day jobs?
BILL HANCOCK:¬† Good question.¬† I think it'll be very similar to the basketball committee, if not possibly a little more time commitment.¬† These meetings during the season will be two‑day meetings.¬† We envision the selection meeting will be longer.¬† The time commitment will be watching video.
But I know the basketball committee members put in a significant amount of time, also.¬† So I think it's probably a toss‑up.

Q.  Do you anticipate all the meetings being in Dallas at your office, or how are you going to work that?
BILL HANCOCK:¬† Yes, they will all‑‑ we anticipate them all being in Dallas.¬† The great advantage to Dallas, of course, is the air connection and being in the middle of the country.

Q.¬† The little guy in this, or smaller conference, obviously huge football community out here in Boise, Idaho, and they want to try to win national titles if possible.¬† How do you think the committee is going to look in the future for a smaller conference school in terms of are they going to have to play in a major conference?¬† Are they going to have to have a very difficult non‑con?¬† How do you see in the future evaluating a smaller school, saying they'll be undefeated.
JEFF LONG:  I think the great thing about this playoff is all teams are treated equally.  So a school like you're referencing will have a chance because if they're ranked in the top four, they will be in the playoff, and they will have a shot at that National Championship.
I think that's the great news.¬† Certainly schools of that nature will have to pay attention to their non‑conference schedule, their strength of schedule, as will all the teams that are involved in wanting to play for the National Championship.¬† Having a competitive schedule, strength of schedule, will be very important.¬† Again, that will be weighed differently by each member of the committee, but I can guarantee you it will be significant in the decision‑making process.

Q.¬† What is the message going to be to schools about the strength of schedule, and a two‑loss team that's going to squawk about a one‑loss team that's No.4 when they're No.5?
BILL HANCOCK:¬† We expect this to lead to stronger non‑conference schedules.¬† As you know, there's a lot that goes into schedule making, but I believe we'll look back in three, five, seven years of this playoff and say, look what it's done to enhance non‑conference scheduling.

Q.  Jeff, what's your hope; everyone is going to look at this committee, and we know the passion of college football fans, and they're going to say, well, wait a minute, these athletic directors don't represent my conference or my school.  What's your hope when you get into the room and what role maybe a Condoleezza Rice might play or Mike Gould when you're actually hashing this all out?
JEFF LONG:  Well, first of all, we want the committee members not to come in and represent.  As a matter of fact, they do not represent any university, any conference, any region of the country.  We represent college football, and that's an important designation to make, that we're coming in to represent college football's best interests, what's in the best interests of college football.
Within the process, we will assign committee members to be responsible for gathering data on a particular conference, and it typically will not be the conference that they may be affiliated with.  So someone from the Big 10 may be evaluating the ACC or the Mountain West or one of those.  So that's how we'll build in that process.
I'm not sure if that answers your question.

Q.  And Bill may want to jump in on this, too, athletic directors who obviously know the workings of college football at the highest level have had to deal with angry emails and upset alums about after a loss.  Just talk about a makeup of the members on this committee and what kind of heat they should be prepared for, especially yourself, Jeff, as sort of the face of this process getting started?  We know the first school left out, their fan base is going to let you guys hear about this.
JEFF LONG:  Absolutely.  We know, we admittedly have a tough decision to make.  We have tough judgments to make, and we know that we're going to have some fan bases of those teams that feel they should be in.  They're going to be upset.  We recognize that.
We also think that the majority of college football fans across the nation are going to know the integrity of this group and know that, again, we voted for the top four teams or we ranked the top four teams that we felt were the best teams for the playoff.
Certainly integrity is a big piece of this, and certainly we know that some fan bases are going to be upset.  That doesn't matter.  It doesn't matter how you end up with the National Championship; there will be people upset.  But by and large the vast majority of people across the country will respect the decisions we make and the teams that we put into the playoff.

Q.  Bill, a Condoleezza Rice, a lieutenant general in the Air Force, talk about what you're hoping.  Obviously they've been in high pressure situations, decision making.  Just talk about what you hope they can bring to this committee.
BILL HANCOCK:  We went in looking at five groups of people, because we wanted a broad representation, and we got that.  We have coaches, we have players, we have administrators, a journalist, and we have sitting athletic directors.  Obviously Condi and General Gould represent that top element of higher education administrators.  They've made tough decisions.  They've both been around the game a lot.  They know and love the game just as much as all the other 11 do.
Their role in this is central and integral to creating the team, and they're both good, smart, obviously people who have made difficult decisions under scrutiny, and they'll both be great committee members.

Q.  And why was 13 the right number?
BILL HANCOCK:  You know, we got the people we wanted.  As we said all along, we were looking at 12 to 18 as a range of a number, and once we got this list of people, we thought, you know, maybe that's enough.  Maybe that's where we ought to be.  We've got all the groups represented.  We have the integrity we wanted.  Let's settle on 13.

Q.  I saw the news release indicated you're going to have flexible term lengths for the committee members so you can get a rotation system set.  Do you have any more detail on that, and also, will the chair serve like the basketball chair, with an annual rotation, or will Jeff be in charge for as long as he's on the committee?
BILL HANCOCK:  We haven't worked out the individual terms.  That will be done over the next few months.  And we haven't worked it out for Jeff, either.  He knows he's the chair the first year, and we'll go from there.

Q.  Almost as scrutinized as the four teams that make it will be the ones that go to the other bowl games, and in the past most of the higher bowls have offered their preferences for certain teams based on fan based and prominence.  How much influence will a bowl have to, say, pick up a team, like a Cotton Bowl might want an Oklahoma, and will they have a voice at all in making selections?
BILL HANCOCK:  The bowls will not have a voice.  The teams that will be assigned to the Cotton Bowl, for example, will be determined by the committee.  And if there's more than one slot available, then the committee will address geography, not trying to have rematches of regular season games, not trying to send a team to a bowl too often over a short period of time.
But it'll be the committee that decides where the teams go.

Q.  Will this strictly be the top 12 teams that qualify for the six bowls, counting the semifinals, or will there be leeway for various reasons?
BILL HANCOCK:¬† Outside of the semifinals, there will be different number of slots available in the other top‑tier bowls based on where the semifinals are taking place.¬† So without getting too much into detail, but in the first year, there will be five slots available, but in other years depending on where the semifinals are, there will be fewer.

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