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AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE MEDIA DAY


July 29, 2014


Bill Hancock


NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND

THE MODERATOR:¬† We're delighted now that Bill Hancock has been kind enough to come join us today.¬† Throughout the course of the curious history of the BCS, perhaps the one thing that everybody agreed on was the fact they had a marvelous leader.¬† Bill has been in the forefront of college football, also one of the good guys you will find out there.¬† It was essentially a no‑brainer when they decided to create the College Football Playoff that they would take that leader from the BCS and transform him into the leader for the College Football Playoff.
Bill Hancock.
COACH HANCOCK:  Good morning, everybody.  Appreciate you being here.  I'd like to do a little bit of College Football Playoff 101, then we'll conclude with an exercise to show you how the committee will operate during selection weekend.
We passed two important legacy milestone dates.  The first was June 26th, which was the second anniversary of the creation of the Playoff.  June 26, 2012, Washington, D.C., all conferences were there represented by their commissioners.  July 12th was the sixth month before the championship game date milestone, a real milestone for our staff and all of us in college football.
We're doing fine.  We're doing great.  We feel very good about where we are with the Playoff.
Just have a few notes for you today.  Obviously for the first time ever College Football Playoff.  How cool do those words sound together?
Four teams, very simple.  Fans get their bracket they wanted.  They get more football.  Obviously the format is simple.  Two semifinals leading to a championship game.
We will have the best four teams in the semifinal games.  No strings attached.  That was an important part of creating the Playoff, was that there not be any strings attached, it would totally be the best four teams.
We do believe it is the best of all worlds because it allows us to preserve the best regular season in sports, the most meaningful, the most compelling regular season is ours.¬† If you think about it, college football's identity is Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, not a big post‑season tournament.¬† We're proud of that.¬† We had to keep that when we began the negotiations for the Playoff.
This event doesn't go too far, it just goes far enough.  We have the four teams in the tournament under contract for 12 years among the conferences.
We will be changing and going back to New Year's Eve and New Year's Day with our games.¬† We will have back‑to‑back triple headers.¬† It will be a real special event for all sportsfans and certainly for all of us in college football.
It's a holiday on a holiday.  I suppose if we made a mistake in the BCS, it may have been spreading the games out on January 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, et cetera.  We thought we were doing the right thing by giving fans one special thing to watch a game every night.
By those dates, the holidays were over, working people were back at work, kids were back at school.  This will be better.  Having three games New Year's Eve and three New Year's Day will be better.
It's also terrific we planted our flag on Monday night for the championship game.  With the BCS, the game could have been Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, some Thursday and one Friday.  With the Playoff, it will always be Monday night.  That will be preceded by a special weekend celebration for the game of college football.  We're very pleased with the Monday night date.
I think this event will grow and grow and grow.  I don't think the sports fans really understand how huge this College Football Playoff will become, in particular the championship game.
There is universal access.  Every FBS team has equal access to the Playoff.  There's no more automatic qualification.  There is more revenue for everybody.  Everyone in the FBS, everyone in college football, will benefit from having this Playoff.
The event is managed by the conferences.  It's not an NCAA event.  It is managed by the 10 conferences.  That's an important thing to remember.  It's unique in that way.
The organizational structure at the top includes a board of directors made up of representatives from every conference.¬† Down below them is what we call the management committee.¬† That's the conference commissioners, who take care of the day‑to‑day operations.
It's important to us to seek counsel from folks as we learn how to manage this and manage it through the years.¬† We have representatives from coaches groups, athletic directors, media.¬† We're in very close touch with Steve Richardson of the FWAA.¬† It's important to have this event be a top‑notch event for the media.
We have a small staff in Dallas.  There will be 13 of us operating out of an office in Las Colinas, not far from the National Football Foundation.  If you're ever in Dallas with a few minutes to spare, please come by to see us.  We'd love to talk a little college football.
We're very proud of our community outreach.  We think it's important to do more than just football.  We created Extra Yard for Teachers, which will be managed by a foundation operated through our office.
There are school teachers in this country who have to buy Crayolas for students out of their own pockets.  We don't think that's right.  Through the College Football Playoff, we're going to do everything we can to help with that.
As you see through the years and read through the weeks and months about Extra Yard for Teachers, this is our give‑back to the community.
Let's talk a minute about the Selection Committee.  The committee's mission is to select the best four teams.  They will rank them, seed them for the playoffs, and they'll also ranks teams 1 through 25.
As all of you know, there is an automatic spot in the Cotton, Fiesta, or Peach Bowl every year for the highest‑ranked champion that don't have New Year's contracts, of course the American being one of those.¬† The contention for that will be every bit as important, everybody bit as stressful for the committee as selecting the top four.
When we put the committee together, every conference was invited to nominate members.  They all did.  We acquired about 125 names from that.  Then we created classifications of members.  We wanted folks with experience as players, coaches, university administrators, journalists, then sitting athletic directors.
You know the members of the committee.¬† Their names are on the board.¬† We have filled all the classifications.¬† We have tremendous regional diversity in the group.¬† They are an All‑Star team of people who love this game, smart people who care, smart people who are going to devote all the time necessary to put on an event like this.
The committee, when looking at teams that are otherwise equal, will use four broad categories based on common sense.¬† Strength of schedule, head‑to‑head, common opponents, and whether the team won its championship or not.¬† Those criteria will apply to not only selecting the top four for the Playoff, but will also be used to determine the highest ranked champion of the five conferences to get that berth in the Cotton, Fiesta, or Peach Bowl.
The committee will put out rankings every week.  The committee will travel to Dallas for meetings starting October 27th, and that will continue for six weeks.  They'll be flying into Dallas every Monday, meeting Monday, Tuesday, then on Tuesday evening we'll be putting out the committee's rankings.
These will replace the BCS standings.  You probably heard me say before very strongly in the BCS, I'm very proud of what it did for college football.  In particular an unintended good consequence of the BCS was what it did for the regular season.  The benefit of the BCS regular season came from these weekly standings because fans all across the country had to look and pay attention to games in other sections of the country to see how they would affect their team.
When the BCS went away, there would not be any more weekly BCS standings, we didn't want to give that territory up to someone else.  That's why we created the weekly rankings to be produced by the Selection Committee, that in addition to the fact that we did not want the committee on selection weekend to just be dropping four teams out on people without fans having known during the season how their teams were ranking.  We didn't want to surprise folks.  So hence the weekly rankings.
We have a voting system.  Those of you that have been part of the NCAA basketball tournament mock media session, if you follow that tournament, you will recognize a lot of similarities between our voting and theirs.
Our voting is not what we've had in college football forever.  It's not the old system of everybody bring in their top 25 and then let's average those to create our rankings.  It's completely different.
This system will involve a couple of dozen, maybe three dozen different ballots during the weekend.  It will be a process of identifying a small group of teams that can be compared to each other, then voted into the rankings in groups of two or three.
We think that ability to compare a small group of teams against each other on every possible level will be a tremendous advantage for this committee and certainly, as I said, something very new for college football.
The next slide shows the back‑to‑back triple headers.¬† This is this year's schedule.¬† Three games New Year's Eve, three on New Year's Day.
Then next you have the rotation.¬† The three‑year rotation of where the semifinals will be played.¬† Rose and Sugar the first year, Cotton and Orange the second year, Fiesta and Peach the third year.¬† This rotation continues over the 12 years so we'll have the same three‑year schedule four times during the 12 years of the College Football Playoff.
We did create a new trophy.  We're very proud of the trophy.  I'll tell you, I loved the crystal football.  I thought it was a great symbol for college football.  Yet it's a new day, a new event, and this new event deserved its own trophy.  So we've created that.  It is a true work of art.
Let's talk a little bit about the championship game.  Some of you know I was the director of the Final Four for many years.  Our site selection for this championship game was very similar to the procedure that we used to select Final Four sites.
We have three selected already.  First year, of course, is in Dallas.  The second year will be in Phoenix.  The third year will be in Tampa.  This time next year we'll be in the middle of selecting the next two or three sites for the championship game.
This will be a tremendously competitive process, has been a very competitive process, as cities vie for the opportunity to host this crown jewel of college football.
We gave the fans a bracket.  They've been wanting it for years.  Now they have it.  And here it is.
My contact information is our last slide here.  I want to make sure y'all write down the numbers, email.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call or send email.
Scott is going to switch the slides now so we can get into the bracketing.
What we're going to do here is you're going to pretend like you're the Selection Committee.  It is selection weekend.  It's Sunday morning.  You have ranked the teams 1 through 25.  You have one more step to achieve, and that is to put the teams in the games themselves.
This is the hypothetical ranking for what we would use to show this year, 2015.  The semifinal games are in the Rose and Sugar Bowl.  The pairings are Ohio State versus LSU and Florida versus Michigan.
One of the things in this is that we will not put the No.1 seed at a competitive disadvantage vis‑√†‑vis the crowd.¬† In other words, that team would stay as close to home as possible.¬† They've earned it through their playing during the regular season, voted No.1 by the committee.¬† We have an Ohio State/LSU site.¬† The sites are Pasadena and New Orleans.¬† Because LSU is No.4, Ohio State is No.1, Ohio State has earned the right not to have to play in front of an LSU crowd.¬† That game would be in Pasadena.
Scott has plugged in the names.  That sends the Florida State/Michigan game to the Sugar Bowl.
The next thing that would happen would be the Orange Bowl would select its teams.¬† They're on a separate contract.¬† Their contract shows that both sides of their game are filled.¬† They have the ACC champion played against the highest‑ranked available team from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame.¬† So in this particular example, the ACC champion would be Louisville.¬† We'll plug them in there.¬† The highest‑ranked available team from the three groups is Wisconsin.¬† So we have a Louisville/Wisconsin matchup in the Orange Bowl.
In the example, the highest‑ranked champion of one of the conferences, five conferences, is Central Florida, as you can see.¬† Where is the best place for them to play?¬† We have to fill the slots in the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach.
We have five teams remaining under consideration.¬† They will fill the other five slots.¬† USC, Florida State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and Baylor.¬† USC, best site for them is the Fiesta.¬† Closest place for their fans, easiest trip for their student‑athletes.¬† We'll plug them in there.
What about FSU?  They're next on the list.  Their easiest trip would be the Peach Bowl, right?  We'll plug FSU into the Peach Bowl and see if it will hold up.  Intriguing matchup there between UCF and FSU.
Now we have three slots available.  The three teams to play are Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Baylor.  One of the things about these games is we will not have rematches.  Oklahoma and Baylor cannot meet.  Oklahoma I believe is the highest ranked of this group.  Their shortest trip would be to the Cotton Bowl.  We'll plug them in there.
Now we have Notre Dame and Baylor remaining.  Obviously Oklahoma's opponent cannot be Baylor, so we'll plug Notre Dame in.  We have a tremendous matchup between Oklahoma and Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, and Baylor goes to the Fiesta in another attractive matchup to play USC.
That's the way it will work in the first year.  The old team Selection Committees are out of business because we now have the teams being selected by the committee.
Every year the Playoff will be different.  Let's take a look at the second year when the semifinals are at the cotton and Orange Bowls.  In this hypothetical, the matchups are LSU/Stanford, and Alabama/Oklahoma State.  The committee would have to decide where to put LSU.  As the No.1 team, they would probably choose the Cotton Bowl.  It's probably a little better site.  They have lots of people in Dallas.  Not far from Northern Louisiana.  That sends Alabama/Oklahoma State, another tremendous matchup, to Miami.
The next thing that would happen here is the Rose and Sugar would fill their berths.  If they lose their champion to the Playoff, then those bowls are entitled to fill their spot with another team from their conference.
So the first thing that would happen is we would look at the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten Wisconsin is the champion, so they would be plugged into the Rose Bowl.¬† The PAC‑12 lost its champion to the Playoff, Stanford.¬† The Rose Bowl would take the next highest‑ranked PAC‑12 team, which would be Oregon.
Now the Sugar Bowl selects.¬† They lost the champion LSU, they lost the No. 2 team Alabama to the Playoff.¬† The highest‑ranked next team from the SEC is Arkansas.¬† The committee would plug in Arkansas in the SEC spot.¬† The committee wouldn't do it, the Sugar Bowl would.
Then the Big 12 lost its champion, Oklahoma State.¬† The next highest‑ranked team from this example is Kansas State.¬† We have a Kansas State/Arkansas matchup in the Sugar Bowl.
The next step would be to look at the highest‑ranked team from the five conferences.¬† In this case we've highlighted it's Boise State.¬† Boise State could stay in the west.¬† They can play in the Fiesta Bowl.¬† We'll plug them in there.
Now the committee is going to have an interesting choice here because the next highest‑ranked teams available, if you look at this, No.9 Arizona, Clemson, the ACC champion, then the third team would be No.11 Virginia Tech.¬† Obviously Clemson and Virginia Tech couldn't play.¬† We're assuming they played during the regular season or perhaps in the conference championship game.¬† They couldn't play, so one of them needs to go to the Fiesta Bowl to play Boise State.
The committee will have a dilemma here because Virginia Tech is ranked higher than Clemson, but Clemson won the conference championship.¬† I suspect it will come down to head‑to‑head if they did play.¬† In this example, with Virginia Tech being ranked higher, you could assume that Virginia Tech won the head‑to‑head game.¬† We'll plug Clemson into the Fiesta, leaving Virginia Tech against Arizona in the Peach.
This example shows you what kinds of things the committee will be going through.  Obviously Arizona would have been a terrific team for the Fiesta Bowl.  Because the other two teams in the running here are Clemson and Virginia Tech, they can't play each other, one of those has to go to the Fiesta Bowl, sending Arizona out.
The committee might have put Virginia Tech in the Fiesta and Clemson in the peach because Clemson having won the conference championship.  We just don't know.
You can see from this that the committee would have lots of different choices, none of which will be wrong.  I think this is how it would come out in the second year.
We have one more example, then I'll hush and see what questions you might have.  This is for 2017.  All the years are so different.  In this case the semifinals are at the Peach and Fiesta.  The four teams in the semifinals are Notre Dame versus Oregon, and Auburn versus Florida.
Which game to put in the Peach Bowl?¬† Which one to send to the Fiesta?¬† Very interesting question in this year, Notre Dame/Oregon.¬† You might think maybe the committee would say, Wait, Oregon is close to Phoenix, so maybe they wouldn't send Notre Dame and Oregon to the Fiesta Bowl.¬† On the other hand, Oregon is at least a two‑day drive from Phoenix.¬† I don't know what the committee might do in this case.
They would probably look at the other game and say we're kind of in a wash.  Notre Dame and Oregon could play either place probably, which would be better for the Auburn/Florida game.
I suspect in this case the committee would say, We're going to send Auburn/Florida to the Peach Bowl for their fans.  We're going to put Notre Dame/Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.  The committee would spend a lot more time talking about this than we have spent on it.
Again, I don't know that there's a right answer.  We have two great matchups, two great bowls to host them, and I think this is probably how they would come out, but I don't know for sure.
Then the next steps, like we did before, would be for the Rose and Sugar to fill their slots.¬† In the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten champion is Nebraska, No.16.¬† Then the PAC‑12 champion in this case, the way we've set this up is interesting, Oregon was not the champion, but ranked higher than Stanford.¬† Must have done better in the regular season in this hypothetical.¬† Stanford as the champion would go to the Rose Bowl to play Nebraska.
In the Sugar Bowl, the Big 12 champion is available, so they would go to the Sugar Bowl, Kansas State.
The SEC has lost its champion Auburn and its second team Florida to the Playoff.¬† It would be their choice on who to chose and they would most likely take the highest‑ranked team, which would be LSU.¬† We have a Kansas State/LSU matchup.
Again, remember that the issue of protecting No.1 from a crowd perspective does not apply to the other games.  It applies to the Playoff, but doesn't apply in a hard and fast way to the other games.  Certainly in this case, the Sugar Bowl makes its own matchup and we believe this is the matchup they would choose to make.
The next step then would be for the Orange Bowl to make its selections.¬† Obviously they get the ACC champion.¬† This year that was No.12 Florida State.¬† Then they have the highest‑ranked available team from those three, Big Ten, SEC, or Notre Dame.¬† If you look down the list, everybody has been taken, LSU has been taken down to Texas A&M, No.9.¬† We'll plug them into that other berth in the Orange Bowl.¬† We have a Florida State/Texas A&M in the Orange Bowl.
There's only one slot remaining, one bowl remaining, the Cotton Bowl.¬† We know the highest‑ranked champion from the five conferences will go in there, so we plugged in Houston.¬† Houston in this example was that highest‑ranked champion.¬† They're going to play the highest‑ranked available team.
The committee's job in matching up the games is pretty easy this year because all they have to do is plug in the highest‑ranked team that's not in the games in the Cotton Bowl.¬† In this case that would be No.7 Texas.
So you've seen already a couple of very intriguing matchups in these hypotheticals.  Florida State/Central Florida, Houston/Texas in the Cotton Bowl.  That's how it's going to work.
It's important for us, for journalists, to know how this operates so that you can answer questions from fans.  We want you to be completely comfortable with it.
You'll see that it's a simple process, four teams to the Playoff, best four teams, no strings attached, 1 plays 4, 2 plays 3.
We're very proud of this event.  We look forward to educating folks about it.  We look forward to watching what we think will be tremendous growth as time moves on.
This College Football Playoff would be alongside the Final Four and the Super Bowl on the sporting landscape in this country.  We can't wait to watch it and we're very honored to be a part of being involved in helping it grow and grow and grow.
I'll stop here and see if anyone has any questions.

Q.  As you've traveled around the country, presented the scenarios and the explanations, what have been the prevailing questions that have been posed to you?
COACH HANCOCK:  About the selection process, I think folks just want to understand the connection between the Cotton, Fiesta, Peach Bowls, how the contract bowls, how that all plays out.
They're very curious about how we're going to go about protecting No.1, what happens if No. 2 and 3 present a similar home crowd advantage, disadvantage for No. 2.
The fact is the committee is just going to have to work hard on that.
We talk a lot about the committee, their integrity.  I get a lot of questions about that.

Q.  Have there been any significant questions posed to you about the issues of integrity, questions that as you look at the composition of the panel, have caused you to say, I can see where there might be a concern there?
COACH HANCOCK:  Not a bit.  Not a bit.
As I mentioned before, the first screen for the committee members was integrity.  If you didn't have high integrity, you didn't make the cut for this.  That was very important.
We also have a recusal policy.  It's almost identical to the one we used in the NCAA basketball committee, except it's a little tougher.
Our policy is that if a member of the committee is being compensated by a school, that committee member cannot participate in any balloting or discussions about that school.  That's the same as basketball.
We've taken it one step further to say that if the committee member has a family member who is being compensated by a school as a coach or is there as a student‑athlete, then they also have to be recused.
That's an extra layer to help with the process.  High integrity, thoughtful, careful evaluation of the teams, and common sense.  Those are the hallmarks of what we're all about with this.

Q.  What about in terms of the committee, their exposure to games understand teams over the course of the season?
COACH HANCOCK:  We're not going to send the committee members out to watch games.  Instead they're going to be watching hours and hours of video.  We've issued an iPad to each one of them.  They'll be downloading video on Sunday and Monday morning.  I can't say how many games each one will watch.
Some of those downloads will be cut‑down versions of those games, they can watch a game in an hour.¬† They're going to be extremely familiar with every team as they make their decisions.¬† They'll have all the data that any of us statistical geeks would ever want.¬† So they'll have everything they need to make their decisions.

Q.¬† At the conclusion of the selection process, do you anticipate there being an open broad‑based discussion by either the leader or committee members saying, Here is how we got to this place?
COACH HANCOCK:  We do.  Transparency was important to us as we created the Playoff.  We've not moved away from that.  The primary element of the transparency is the chairman of the committee, Jeff Long, will meet with the media after each weekly meeting, then certainly on Selection Sunday, to explain how the committee made their decisions.
We know team 5 is going to be very close to team 4.  Going to look a lot alike.  Jeff will be able to explain how the committee discerned between those two teams.
Team 5 teams will not be happy with us, but they won't have any questions about why.

Q.  When they start talking about strength of schedule, we would think that work against leagues like this.  They're going to get one team out of five leagues.  How do you explain that?  Do you feel these teams all have an equal access compared to the Big 12?
COACH HANCOCK:  They do.  You have to remember all teams have equal access to the Playoff.  They could be in the Playoff.  They all have equal access to finish in the top group to be selected for the Cotton, Fiesta or Peach Bowl.  That is a tremendous advantage over the BCS where they had to meet a threshold.
Then in addition to those two, they do have a guaranteed spot for the highest‑ranked champion.¬† So this is significantly better than the BCS for those conferences.¬† It's why, as you heard Commissioner Aresco say, in large part why they're so supportive of this new venture.

Q.¬† You made mention early on in your remarks that the conferences are managing this Playoff, not the NCAA.¬† Are there any concerns on behalf of the NCAA that the conferences using that autonomy could use that for pay‑for‑play, close the gap with Power 5?
COACH HANCOCK:  The 10 conferences manage this.  It's important to remember that.  All 10 are represented on the board of managers and on the management committee, so university presidents and commissioners.  We work for all 10 conferences.  That's a very important part of who we are.
The conferences did show through the BCS that they are capable of managing a significant national event on their own.  In my background in working for the NCAA for 16 years, I saw the tremendous benefits of NCAA championships.  I saw how much people loved those events.
But I'm now seeing how well the conferences can manage an event, and I'm proud of it and I feel like it's the right thing.
Representing the conferences, they are able to have a hands‑on level of management that gives them all great comfort.
As far as what's happening in the NCAA governance matters, I've been so busy managing the Playoff, I haven't had time to dive too deeply into that.  I'm watching it in the same way that you all are.

Q.  Will the committee be together for a long time, for a couple years, or will it be a committee that is switched over every year?
COACH HANCOCK:  Their terms, they will rotate.  The standard term is three years.  It will take us a while to get into that because of everybody having come on at once, we don't want them all to go off at once.
In this first group, there are some members that have two‑year terms, some three, some four‑year terms.¬† Those are publicized on our website.
Their general term once we get into it will be three years.

Q.  You mentioned the committee will have a bunch of data.  Will the data come just from them?  Will any of the meetings be open?
COACH HANCOCK:¬† We have retained a data company that does this full‑time.¬† The name of the company is Sports Source.¬† They'll be providing the data.¬† It's not a metric.¬† It's not like the RPI that we used for basketball.¬† It is strictly data, rushing, passing, offense, defense, turnovers, penalties, every bit of data that you can imagine.¬† Hard, objective data will be provided to the committee.
Open meetings, good question.  The meetings will not be open.  Much like we did at the NCAA, the committee members will meet.  At the end of the meetings the chair will address the media about what happened during the meetings.

Q.  The old BCS was famous for tweaking the formula every year.  Have you discovered something already that you've had to tweak from what you originally planned?
COACH HANCOCK:  No, we haven't.  We have a voting protocol.  We have a committee member's terms.  We have the process for assigning the teams to the games.  Those have all been developed over the last couple years.  We just finished up the voting protocol this spring for the committee.  Nothing has been tweaked yet.
I think maybe if we made another mistake in the BCS it was the tweaks in the formula.  They were made with good intentions.  They were made because we saw things that could make the event better.  But it sort of maybe backfired because as we made the tweaks, it lessened the ability of folks to understand how the event worked.
I don't know whether we'll have to make changes in this as time goes by.  I hope we don't.  If we see something significant, we will have the courage to make a change, then we'll explain why it happened.
To date everything looks good.  We've run several mocks.  All the tests have been very positive.
Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  Excitingly enormous time for college football.  We appreciate you spending time with us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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