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July 18, 2018

Bill Hancock

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Good morning. We're ready to continue again. At this time, we would like to welcome the executive director of the College Football Playoff, Mr. Bill Hancock.

BILL HANCOCK: Thank you, Kevin. I want to thank Commissioner Sankey and the SEC staff for doing a great job. Appreciate you all having me. I also want to thank Garry Templeton for his participation. I think he's somewhere in the room, or maybe he's having coffee.

At any rate, it's good to see you all. Good to be here with so many good professional colleagues and friends. Good to be together with people who I respect and who report the truth and keep the sports world on its toes. Keep on doing that. Thank you for doing it.

This week and next, as you know, reporters, coaches, student-athletes, and administrators from each of the ten conferences are getting together at Media Days, which really is the kickoff of the college football season.

It's a far cry from the Skywriters Tours of 40 years ago, and I was so happy to see Greg mention Skywriters in his remarks the other day. If you're looking for a column idea, get with Ron Higgins or somebody who has been around Skywriters Tour, because they were tremendous bonding events. But, my goodness, our Media Days, so much better than Skywriters.

We've been eagerly awaiting the start of the season since that last night of last year, that epic night around the corner, as David mentioned, when Georgia and Alabama played that wonderful game to decide the National Championship.

Ours is the most meaningful, most magical regular season in sports, and it will culminate 173 days from today out in Santa Clara, California. Last month we noted the sixth anniversary of the founding of the Playoff, which was created in a meeting in Washington, D.C., of university presidents on June 26th, 2012.

It was the most significant milestone in the history of college football, and it has been a very good game, good year, good four years, for this game that we love so much.

By every measure, the College Football Playoff has been highly successful. Fans love the CFP. It has provided a memorable experience for students, for players, for spirit squads, band members and all of their families in addition to millions of football fans, and we are bringing new fans into the game of college football into our sphere, showing them the wonders of this game that we all do love so much because of the College Football Playoff.

And the CFP is firmly played within the context of higher education. The Selection Committee is highly respected. One survey of fans shows that it has an 80 percent positive approval rating. I doubt anything else in America has an 80 percent approval rating. Maybe ice cream?

People love their college football, they love their playoff, and they respect their committee's decisions. Perhaps the strongest barometer of the CFP's respect is that those 13 committee members, all of them accomplished people of high integrity who love the game, are deeply honored to volunteer their time to be a part of the CFP.

The committee baton has been passed three times now. Terms have expired for three classes of members, and 26 people have now served on the committee. And the group's culture of diligence, integrity, and hard work has only deepened. These people are devoted to getting it right, and they have done so. We will introduce a new chairman this year. And if you don't know Rob Mullens from the University of Oregon, get ready: You will like him.

And the thing is: The CFP is college football. We have brought a campus atmosphere to four iconic pro football stadiums, with more to come. We have marching bands at halftime. We have school banners. We have stadiums full of compassionate fans with no big chunks of neutral folks sitting on their hands in the stands. These people care. This game is electric. It is magic.

We will continue to host mock selection exercises in October for reporters and others. These have been extremely successful and enormously popular. Some of you have participated, and you know how much fun it is and how serious it is. It looks like the mock roster may be filled this year, don't know for sure, but if you would like to participate, please send me an e-mail at bhancock@collegefootballplayoff.com. If we can get you in this year, we will. If not, we'll put you on the list for next year. For any serious college football reporter, the mocks are not to be missed.

What is ahead for the CFP? First of all, a championship on the West Coast after semifinals this year in Miami and Dallas. And I will go ahead and answer the question that I know is on some of your minds: There is no talk about expansion among the university presidents and the conference commissioners who sit on our boards.

The CFP works. It works well. Four teams keeps the focus on this wonderful regular season, the most meaningful and compelling in all of sports; four lets us keep the bowl experience for thousands of student-athletes; four keeps college football within the framework of higher education.

Lastly, I want to just take a minute to remind you about the CFP Foundation which honors and assists teachers across the country. Many teachers and thousands of students have benefitted from the funds provided by the CFP Foundation through our signature initiative, Extra Yard For Teachers. Watch for this program to grow and grow as time goes by. We are about much more than football. And I ask you that you please write about Extra Yard sometime during the season.

Education is America's most important opportunity, most vital opportunity. And teachers make that engine go. And we are seriously and determinedly moving forward to honor and support teachers around the country. They are the true unsung heroes of our culture, and all too often they are underappreciated and underfunded. The CFP Foundation is doing something about that.

Many of you know that I'm a former newspaper columnist. As such, I was always looking for column ideas, and I want to give one to you this morning. Choose your own favorite teacher, a person who set you on the path for life and write about what that person did to get you started to lead you to where you are today, to lead you to the life you enjoy today. Take a minute, think about that, find your teacher, call him or her, interview her and write a column about it. Please.

In conclusion, thank you for your interest in college football, your professionalism and your diligence. Please understand that those of us who are lucky enough to be a part of administering the College Football Playoff are honored to do so. We cherish the opportunity that we have to be a part of this great game, and we are eagerly anticipating round five.

I will be around for a while today and look forward to visiting with you. Thanks again for coming, and thank you for your friendship. Kevin?

THE MODERATOR: All right. We have time for a few questions. If you have a question for Bill, raise your hand, we'll get a microphone to you. Any questions for Bill? All right.

Q. I'm just kind of curious to see, obviously the playoff trophy tours around the country every year. I just wonder how is your selection process to determine where those sites are. Do you have early examples where it might be at the start of this year?
BILL HANCOCK: I hope you heard the question. The question is about the Trophy Tour. The trophy does tour around the country. We have a company hired that manages that. They are out of Dallas. They are very diligent. They won't let you touch the trophy with bare hands. I know. I tried it. It doesn't work. They immediately put you in shackles for that.

I don't know -- I don't think we know yet where the trophy will be going this year. It goes to the top games.

It's available for the public to see and have photos made. I'm sure it will be coming to a stadium and to companies in an area near you.

I hope that answered the question. The trophy -- the story of the trophy is fascinating to me. We had a logo and we took it to a designer and said all we have is this logo, but we want a trophy. And, man, they put this trophy together, and it has become an icon.

Q. What were your thoughts on UCF's self-proclaimed National Championship, and what is it going to take for a group of five to get into the playoff if UCF or a school like UCF were to finish unbeaten two years in a row? Would that lend more credence?
BILL HANCOCK: Thank you. First of all, what happened last year has no bearing on what happens this year. We start with a clean sheet of paper every year.

Second of all, we have consistently congratulated UCF on a great season. I got to see them play on television several times last year. It was a wonderful football team and a great team to watch. I know they lost a great coach. They replaced him with another great coach, and we look forward to seeing what UCF does this year.

For the College Football Playoff, things are simple: Play a good schedule, win your games, and you're going to be in the hunt. That holds true for UCF and Houston and Northern Illinois, as well as Alabama and Ohio State and Texas and Washington.

Thank you, Kevin. Thanks, everybody.

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