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July 16, 2014

Bill Hancock


KEVIN TRAINOR:  It's my privilege to introduce the executive director of the College Football Playoff, Mr. Bill Hancock.  He will be giving a presentation on the Playoff.
BILL HANCOCK:  Thank you.
It's a real pleasure for me to be here with you this morning.  We are going to give a few basics about the Playoffs, kind of Playoff 101.
For the last half we're going to ask you to be part of the Selection Committee assigning teams to the bowl games so you can a get a feel for how they do their jobs.
We just passed two important milestones for the Playoff.  June 26th was the second anniversary that the university presidents created the Playoff, June 26th, 2012.  Then on July 12th, we passed the six‑month‑to‑the‑game date.  July 12, we're six months away from the game.
Our staff is in good position.  Things are in good shape.  We're very excited about the task ahead.  We're very excited about the territory we've already covered.
So College Football Playoff 101.  We enter into a new era.  We're very excited about the opportunity.  It's remarkable to say those three words, College Football Playoff, feels mighty good to all of us.
The format is very simple.  It's symmetrical.  It's really beautiful.  It's a four‑team bracket.  We all love our brackets.
The committee will select the best four teams, period, no strings attached.  It's important to keep that in mind.  We think the Playoff gives us the best of both worlds.  Our goal with the BCS going into this was to maintain the best regular season in sports.  We've done that with the Playoff.
Four teams is not too many.  It does not go too far.  It goes just far enough.  It also preserves the bowl system and the bowl experience for student‑athletes top to bottom, which is very important to us.
We will celebrate New Year's in a new way with back‑to‑back college football triple‑headers.  Whenever we go to our New Year's Eve parties, they better have a television set and it better be tuned into college football or we're not going to be there.  It changes the paradigm of that holiday for keeps in this country and we're very proud of that.
We have planted our flag on Monday night.  The National Championship game will remain on Monday night, unlike the BCS when the National Championship could be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.  We think the continuity of being on Monday will be important and we're going to create a weekend celebration of the game like has never happened before.
There is universal access to this Playoff.  There is no automatic qualifications.  Yes, everybody benefits from the revenue.  There will be more money in this for everyone.  But the Playoff wasn't done for the money.  The Playoff was done because we heard the fans who wanted more football and they wanted a bracket.
At the same time we wanted to preserve the regular season and we wanted to preserve the bowl system.  We've done both of those.  This is a win‑win, a pure win‑win.
The conferences will manage the event, unlike NCAA Championships.  This event is managed by the conferences.  We have a board of managers which includes university presidents and chancellors from all the conferences.  They are the guiding force of this.  They are energetic, they're enthusiastic, and they're very much into how this thing is managed.
On a day‑to‑day basis, is our management committee, that's the 10 FBS commissioners and the Notre Dame athletics director.  We seek counsel from many groups within our business, athletic directors, coaches.  We have a group of football operations directors we consult.  We stay in very good touch with Steve Richardson from the FWAA about how our processes and procedures might be affecting the media.
We do have a small staff.  There will be 13 of us in Irving, Texas, who manage the day‑to‑day matters.  If you get to Irving, please come by and see us.  I mean that sincerely.
We for the first time in post‑season football at our level we have a philanthropic initiative, it's called Extra Yard for Teachers.  It will benefit teachers at the K‑through‑12 level.  This is a very important project to all of us.  The schools and conferences have committed funding to it from the Playoff.  We intend for it to grow every year.
We're very, very proud of this.  Anything you can do to help us spread the word about Extra Yard for Teachers, we will appreciate.
The Selection Committee, you're all quite familiar with the committee.  Their mission, of course, is to select the best four teams for inclusion in the Playoff, then also to fill the other bowls as slots are available.
When we created the committee, each conference was invited to nominate potential members.  Each one submitted about 10 or 12.  We got a pool of about 120 people out of that.  The primary consideration was integrity.  We had to have people of the highest integrity.
Then we created classifications.  We wanted people with experience as student‑athletes, coaches, administrators, yes, journalists, and we wanted sitting athletic directors.  We filled all the classifications.
When we started, our goal was to have 12 to 18 members of the committee.  I began to make phone calls a year ago at this time to people who had been nominated, stayed through the cuts as the management committee worked down through the list.  Every person I called was honored and delighted to receive the call.  It was one of the best professional experiences of my life because I was talking to legends of college football, and they were all thrilled to be included.
When I got to 13, I stopped, and I called the commissioners and said, Hey, here is the list, here is 13.
They said, Let's stop right there.  That's the number.  We have an All‑Star team of 13 people of high integrity who know the game, who love the game, and are ready to commit the time necessary to do the job.
How will they make their decision?  When the Playoff was first created, the presidents landed on broad criteria they wanted the committee to use, and we stuck with that.  It's all common sense stuff, strength of schedule, head‑to‑head, comparison of common opponents, and whether you won your conference championship.
Each committee member will work within those parameters to make their individual decisions.  This process will not be a matter, as has been done in college football forever, of everybody submitting their list of top 25, somebody putting it into their computers and averaging the numbers.  It will be much more sophisticated and deliberative than that ever was.
Basically the voting process is to create a small list of teams that can be compared to each other, six to eight teams.  They'll be analyzed backwards, forwards, any way you can think of.  Then the committee will vote three or four of those teams into the rankings.
There will be seven rounds of voting to create the top‑25 list that the committee will select every week beginning October 28th.  They're going to come to Dallas for two‑day meetings, Monday and Tuesday, starting October 27th, and on Tuesday nights they'll be putting out the rankings every week.
Of course, Selection Sunday, December 7th, at 11:45 central time, Jeff Long will come out and announce the four teams that are in the first College Football Playoff.
Here is how the back‑to‑back triple‑headers will work this year.  You can see the three games on New Year's Eve, Peach, Fiesta, Orange, then the New Year's game, Cotton, then the semifinals at the Rose and Sugar.  We have a three‑year rotation for this.  It repeats four times during the 12‑year cycle of the College Football Playoff.
Trophy.  We announced a new trophy this week.  We unveiled it in our office in Las Colinas.  We're very proud of it.  We think it will be a significant icon for the game.  We did choose not to hoist the trophy at the news conference because we want the first hoist to be done on January 12th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington by the winning coach and student‑athletes.  It's only fitting to do it that way.  We're very proud of the trophy.
The trophy is simple, like the name of the event.  Some of you were there the day I got to stand at the news conference and announce the name of this event was going to be College Football Playoff.  It just fits.  It's what it's all about.  Of course, it gave the reporter in San Antonio the opportunity to say, to tweet, If Bill Hancock had a dog, its name would be Dog (smiling).
We have the rotation of sites selected for the first three years of the Playoff.  A year from now we'll be in the middle of the process of selecting the next few years, probably three years.  There's tremendous demand from cities in this country to host this game.  It will be the demand like we experienced when I was director of the Final Four and certainly like Super Bowl demand.  This will be an iconic event on the sporting landscape.
The bracket is out.  It's on our website.  There's lots of information on our new website, which launched this week, College Football Playoff.com.  Check it out.
I think that's it for College Football Playoff 101.  We're going to switch our computer over to where we can begin the process of placing the teams in the bracket would work.
This is a rather large group, but I want you to put yourselves in the positions of being the committee members and helping us select where the teams will be assigned to play.
The process for the committee will be, they will come in on Friday.  They will meet through the weekend.  On Sunday morning, they'll be able to produce the pairings.
Where we're going to ask you to fit in now in this is, this is Selection Sunday morning.  The final rankings have been posted.  The committee has ranked the teams.  Those are on the screen on the left‑hand side.  Now we're going to go through the process of filling the games.
We've highlighted some teams.  Those are conference champions.  The highlight in green is the highest‑ranked champion from the conferences that don't have a contract for their teams to play in the January 1 bowl game because that team also receives an automatic spot into one of our bowl games.
So the first thing the committee will do will be to look at the pairings for the Championship game.  In the year at hand, we have Ohio State No.1, they'll play No.4 LSU.  The No.1 team has earned the right to play as close to home as possible, to play in front of as friendly a crowd as possible, and in the most friendly circumstances as possible.  They earned that by their play during the season.
Ohio State and LSU, that game would most likely be played at the Rose Bowl.  We're going to plug those into the Rose Bowl.  That sends Florida and Michigan, the 2‑3 game, to the Sugar Bowl.
The next step the committee will do will be to fill the Orange Bowl, the other contract bowl.  Actually the committee doesn't do it.  The committee will look to the Orange Bowl committee to do that.  The two sides of the Orange Bowl are the ACC champion, which in the case of this example is Louisville, and the highest‑ranked team from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame.
If you look at the rankings, highest‑ranked team available would be Wisconsin.  So the Orange Bowl pairing would be Louisville and Wisconsin.
Now, we know that Boise State is the highest‑ranked champion from the other five conferences, has a spot.  So the committee most likely would start there and probably put them in the bowl closest to them.  So Boise State would be assigned to play in the Fiesta Bowl.
Now we have five more teams that are going to fill the other five slots.  If you look at your screen, that starts with No.9 Auburn, No.10 Oklahoma, No.11 Notre Dame, No.12 Arkansas, and USC.  Those are the other five teams.
Most likely the committee would put USC in the closest spot possible, so they would be assigned to the Fiesta Bowl to play Boise State.
Now we have four slots in the Cotton and the Peach.  The highest‑ranked team available I believe is No.9, Auburn.  It probably makes most sense to have them stay close to home and play in the Peach Bowl.  So we'll plug them in for the Peach.  We'll see how it works.
The committee's charge is to make the best matchup, but also not to send a team to a bowl game repeatedly over a period of time, not to rematch regular‑season games, not to have conference teams play in a bowl game.  It fits in this case to have No.9 Auburn play No.10 Oklahoma.  That game can happen in the Peach Bowl.  They haven't played in a long time.  That's a darn fine matchup.
That leaves Notre Dame to play Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, another terrific matchup.  Great trip for Arkansas, great short trip for them.  Notre Dame fans, of course, can and do and will go anywhere.
So that's how the process would work in year one for the committee.
There's other ways to do it.  They could have decided maybe they wanted to match up Auburn and Notre Dame instead of Auburn and Oklahoma.  They couldn't have matched Auburn and Arkansas for obvious reasons, but that seems to be the best game.
One thing about this is that the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowls, their team selections committees are out of business because they're going to get their teams from the committee every year.
That's how it would go in the first year.  We have a couple more years to show you because every year of the Playoff is different.  We're going to put up on the screen now how it would look in year two.  Again, it rotates over the 12 years.  This is how it works in year two, five and beyond.
In year two, the Cotton and the Orange have the semifinals.  We put together a list of teams just for example here again.  In this year, LSU plays Stanford.  Where is the best spot for that game?  LSU has earned it.  I think probably Cotton Bowl.  Lots of LSU fans in the Dallas area.  They could go to the Orange Bowl.  Cotton Bowl is probably a little bit better for LSU.  Again, they've earned it by virtue of the play during the season to be the No.1 ranked team.
That sends Alabama to play Oklahoma State, No. 2 and No.3, in the Orange Bowl.  Two terrific matchups.
Now, the next thing the committee would do would be to fill the contract bowls, the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl.  Let me see.  The Rose Bowl, the highest‑ranked Big Ten team, the champion is Wisconsin.  So the Rose Bowl would have Wisconsin.  And the PAC‑10 champion is Stanford, they're in the Playoff.  The Rose Bowl has the opportunity to choose, whichever one it wants, and it would most likely take the highest‑ranked team available, which is Oregon.  So we have a Wisconsin‑Oregon matchup.
The same thing would happen in the Sugar Bowl.  The Big 12 champion is Oklahoma State, and they have lost to the Playoff, so the Sugar Bowl gets to pick a replacement team.  They would most likely take the highest‑ranked Big 12 team which would be Kansas State.
SEC has lost its champion and its runner‑up, LSU and Alabama.  So the next highest‑ranked SEC team would be Arkansas.  So the Sugar Bowl then would have a matchup of Kansas State and Arkansas.
Now we have two bowls remaining.  The teams that are available would be Boise State, Clemson as the ACC champion, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech.  Those are the four teams in play here.
Well, obviously South Carolina can't play Clemson again.  Clemson can't play Virginia Tech.  This will be interesting for the committee.  Here is Boise State again.  They played in the Fiesta Bowl last year, according to this exercise.  But really the best place for Boise State is to send them back to the Fiesta Bowl.  I think that's probably what the committee would do in this case.  They'll be scratching their heads about this one.  But it's such a good trip for them.
Boise State people obviously have had great success playing in the Fiesta Bowl.  Let's plug Boise State into the Fiesta Bowl.
We know Clemson can't play either South Carolina or Virginia Tech, so Clemson has to go to the Fiesta Bowl to play Boise State.  That sends South Carolina to the Peach.
We have three teams left.  Clemson can't play either one of them.  They already played.  So Clemson has to go play Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.  That leaves a terrific South Carolina/Virginia Tech matchup in the Peach.
So that's how it would work in year two.
Let's look at the third year.  Again, they're all different.  Third year will present some different challenges.  The committee has ranked the teams here.  They're on the left.
Playoff matchups.  Host of the Playoff games in the third year would be the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.  Notre Dame versus Oregon, Alabama versus Florida.  Notre Dame is No.1.  They've earned the right to play in front of a friendly crowd, or at least not play in front of a non‑friendly crowd.  This will be interesting for the committee.
Notre Dame‑Oregon.  Does Oregon have a crowd advantage in Phoenix?  The committee would debate that I'm sure.  There would be lots of debate about it.  My guess this morning would be probably that the committee would decide it would be too much of a home‑crowd advantage for Oregon, No.4, against Notre Dame, for them to play in Phoenix.  My guess would be that the committee would send Notre Dame and Oregon to play in the Peach Bowl.  Again, there would be lots of debate about this.  I really can't say how the committee would come out.  For this morning, my gut would tell me that game would go to the Peach Bowl.
Now we have Alabama versus Florida.  That game would be in the Fiesta Bowl.  The prohibition against rematches and conferences playing against each other only applies to the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowls.  It does not apply to the semifinals.
If you take Florida State this year, Michigan State being No.4, that would leave Auburn and Alabama at 2 and 3.  It's fun to think about this year because most likely the No.1 game, Florida State versus let's say Michigan State, that game most likely would have been in the Sugar Bowl.  Florida State, again, No.1, earned the right to stay close to home.  That game probably would have been in the Sugar Bowl, sending the Alabama‑Auburn rematch to Pasadena.  Think about that.
Very similar this year, back to the example, we got an Alabama‑Florida matchup that would take place in the Fiesta Bowl.  So that's how the semifinals would work in this third year.
What about the rest of the games?  The first thing that would happen is, again, the committee wouldn't do it, but the bowls would make their selections.  Let's start with the Orange Bowl.
The ACC champion is available, Florida State.  So we can plug them in there.  The highest‑ranked team from the SEC, Big 10 are Notre Dame, fills the other half of the Orange Bowl contract.  Let me back up.
The first thing that would happen is the Rose and Sugar would choose their teams, then the Orange would.  The Rose Bowl, the Big Ten champion this year was Nebraska.  In this example we're pretending that Stanford defeated Oregon in the championship game, but Oregon stayed as No.4.  Stanford then as the champion would go to the Rose Bowl game, so we would have a Nebraska‑Stanford Rose Bowl.
Then Kansas State would play the Sugar Bowl's choice, and this would most likely take the highest‑ranked team from the SEC, Georgia.  We would have Kansas State playing Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Then the Orange Bowl.  Florida State fills the ACC half.  Then the highest‑ranked team from the SEC, Big Ten for Notre Dame would be LSU.  So LSU would be in the Orange Bowl against Florida State.
You can see how intriguing and fun these matchups are, how much fun the committee will have as they fill the slots.
This year is interesting because there's only two slots available after the teams have been plugged into the semifinals and into the contract bowls.  We know that one of these slots by virtue of the CFP contract goes to the highest‑ranked conference champion from the five conferences.  This year would be No.15, Northern Illinois.  Northern Illinois would be plugged into the Cotton Bowl.  They would play the highest‑ranked team still left.  So Texas A&M would be playing Northern Illinois in the Cotton Bowl.
So that's how it works.  That would be the committee's work.  They'll be doing that during the weekend, then they'll be finishing up on Sunday morning.
We have time for some questions in here and then I'll be available outside for more.
KEVIN TRAINOR:  We'll take some questions.

Q.  I don't want to overthink the year two and three scenarios you put up BCS, but under those scenarios, you had the PAC‑12 champion on the outside looking in, to a team that defeated who happened to finish ahead of it in the BCS standings.  Are you expecting the committee to place a bigger emphasis on conference championship games when the BCS didn't necessarily do that previously?
BILL HANCOCK:  Those criteria are not weighted.  In other words, they are to compare head‑to‑head, common opponent, strength of schedule, and conference champions without giving any weight to any of them.
In this example, I think we probably decided that, yes, Stanford was the champion in one of the years, and we probably said, we looked at the rest of the season, and the records were so different that we left it the way we did.
I think the bottom line is, there are the criteria, they're not weighted, it will be up to the committee members to use their subjective judgment to separate the teams.

Q.  On the Auburn‑Alabama rematch, could theoretically the, like, the basketball committee drop them a seed line to prevent that?  Would they do it and would the public accept that if they were rated that the week before?
BILL HANCOCK:  They would not.  They won't monkey with the pure seeds.  If the pure seeds are 1, 2, 3, 4, Auburn is 2, Alabama is 3, they'll leave them right there and they will be a rematch.  There's no dropping of lines in the College Football Playoff.

Q.  In that one scenario, I can't remember if it was year two or three, the Florida‑Alabama rematch in the Playoffs, is there any contention if that would be a third game between those two teams?
BILL HANCOCK:  That's really a good question.  We role‑played all of this.  The concept of the third game has come up.  It sounds a lot like Duke‑Carolina, doesn't it?
The fact is it's absolutely based on the pure seedings, 1, 2, 3, 4.  If that yield as rematch, or a third game even, then that's the way it will be.

Q.  When it comes to the NCAA tournament for basketball, when certain schools are mentioned, a committee member who has ties to that will recuse themselves from the room while they talk about it.  Will a similar thing happen when you're discussing teams for the top four?
BILL HANCOCK:  Yes, we do have a recusal policy.  It's similar to the basketball committee's policy.  It's a little tougher.  Our policy is that if you are compensated by the school in any way, if you work there, if you're receiving any kind of compensation, then you would be recused from participating in any vote involving that school, and also you will leave the room when that school is under discussion.
So very similar to the way basketball does it.  Actually, all NCAA sports do it.  Baseball committee just finished their work.  They do the same thing.
Thank you, everybody.  Take care.

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