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July 21, 2010

Bill Hancock


CHARLES BLOOM: Welcome to SEC Football Media Days 2010. Our first speaker of the day is Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS. Bill thought it would be good to hit some media days. We're glad to have him here.
BILL HANCOCK: Thanks, everyone, for your time. It's my pleasure to be here. This is my first trip to the SEC Media Days. What a great event. Before I talk about the BCS, what I'm going to do is talk a little bit about how it works, why it works, then open it up for questions.
But I think this morning when I was on my little run outside around the hotel, I remembered my first exposure to summer and college football in the south was when I rode my bicycle across the country. Some of you know about this. I rode it across the heart of the SEC. I rode from Arkansas down to Vicksburg, Meridian, into Alabama and Georgia, finished up at Tybee Island. I spent the night with my friend David in Auburn. I had a good time.
When I got done with the bike ride, I wound up writing a book about the trip. I fell in love with the south. I fell in love with the mornings in the south. I fell in love with the people that I met. But I did meet a couple of, I'd say, different kind of folks. I wrote about them in the book.
When the book came out, I was worried that people were going to read it and call me out because I had written about these couple of just a little bit different people, that people would say, You Yankee, you come down here, you're attacking our culture. The book had been out about a year. Harry Potter has nothing to fear from the number of sales off my book.
I got a call from a guy who said, I'm Joe Blow in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Are you the guy that wrote the book?
Yes, sir, I am.
I got a bone to pick with you.
I said, Oh, Lord, here it goes. I knew this call was coming. I was ready for the attack.
I said, Okay, Joe, what is it?
Joe Blow from Alabama said to me, Why the hell did you spend the night in Auburn?
That's how I got my feet wet on SEC.
I want to talk a little bit about the BCS. Since the BCS was created, college football has really thrived. Like it or not, the fact is that this sport has never been more popular. As we say every day, every day of our lives, what it does, it matches up the top two teams in the Bowl game. We have more viewers. We've been successful, as you can see. The top two have met nine out of 12. Nothing like that happened before the BCS was created. Like it or not, it has been successful.
We have the strong support of the coaches. 93% of them say they prefer to what we have now to a playoff.
It boils down to two things. We have the best regular season in any sport, hands down. Why monkey with that? We also have a terrific Bowl system that benefits a whole bunch of teams every year, teams that would never qualify for a playoff get to have that post-season Bowl experience.
Things about a playoff. You can't imagine the number of playoff plans that I receive. I keep them all. I love them because they show the passion folks have for this game. I'm sure I have over a thousand folks have sent in through the years. You probably know this, but the BCS is contracted for the next four years.
Nobody can evaluate all the ways in which a playoff would change it, but it would change it, and it would bring an end to the Bowl games as we know them. Maybe Bowls would continue. There's debate about that.
A model is perhaps college basketball. We've seen the energy from the regular season going into March. We've seen the other event, the NIT, go down to where it's really nothing and probably wouldn't be anything at all if it weren't played on campus sites.
So the Bowl system would change, again, in some ways we don't know that; we can only imagine.
This is one of our statements. If we had a playoff, if you think what we have is controversial with selecting two teams, imagine trying to pick four, imagine trying to pick eight, teams 5, 9, 17, 33 would be livid. We've got to preserve this regular season.
When we're in the middle of the summer in the south, where I live in Kansas City, we think, If I could only get back to January, give me some snow and ice. In January, we think, Get me back to the summer. If we did away with the BCS and went to a playoff, an 8- or 16-team playoff, in X-number of years, two, three, five, seven years, people would say, Please get me back to the BCS, we didn't realize how good we had it when we had hot weather in August.
Best format, every game matters. Can you imagine a sport where the opening weekend of the season is going to be as important as the one we're going to have in college football this year? I can't. There's not any.
That's our points.
Tell you a little bit about how this works. Six or seven conferences have automatic berths. Why do the six have automatic berths? The fact would be there wouldn't be a BCS if those conferences didn't participate. They have to be guaranteed something as good as at least what they could get on their own.
AQ, how does it work? People like to say it's complicated, they can't figure it out. It's second grade math. Notre Dame has a berth if it's ranked in the top eight. It's actually more difficult for Notre Dame to get in than it is for Boise State. All Boise State does is finish in the top 14. A non-AQ champion, a champion of one of those five conferences, gets in if it's in the top 12, or 16 if it's higher than one of the champions of the AQs.
For at-large eligibility, all you have to do is be ranked in the top 14 to be selected by a Bowl. Pretty simple.
Conferences have annual automatic qualification. You know the six have it now. They have it for the reason that we discussed. And also five of them have agreements with the Bowls, as you know. All six of them earned their AQ because they met the standards. There was a four-year evaluation period. We've put out the data from that. If you want that data, give me a call, send me an e-mail. But all six of them met the data easy, and no other conference was close.
There's another four-year period happening now, and that will determine if there's a seventh AQ for 2012 and 2013. And the standards are, there's three of them, ranking of the top team in the conference, ranking of all the teams in the conference top to bottom, then the number of teams in the top 25. All the conferences adopted these standards. It was unanimous.
After two years, we're not going to compile the data till the end of the 2012 season because we don't need to know. Intuitively we know that the Mountain West is off to a great start after two years. We don't know what's going to happen for 2014 to 2017 for the next cycle.
This is starting the fourth cycle of the BCS, the 13th season. I don't know if Coach Kramer back when he started this, I don't know if he realized that it would exist for 16 seasons. I know he didn't realize the controversy that it would engender. I also don't think he realized what it would do for the popularity of the sport nationally. It was a brilliant thing that he put together.
The compromise that he was able to get the other commissioners to reach was remarkable. Our friends in Washington could benefit from some of that compromise I think.
How about the revenue? Here's what happens. 25,000 to each FCS conference, that's the old IAA. Notre Dame gets 166 if they're not in the game. They get the same share that any one team in the AQ group. There's 66 teams in the AQ group. They get the same as Iowa State or NC State, any team that doesn't participate in the BCS. There's the estimate for 10 and 11. Then there's the amount for Army and Navy, a hundred grand.
How about the rest of the revenue? $6 million goes to each team selected at-large by a Bowl. So who was selected at-large last year? Florida and Boise State and Iowa. Florida, Boise State and Iowa all received the same amount because they were selected at-large. Last year the amount for that was $4.5 million. It's up because of the new TV contract.
Then the first participant from the non-AQ group gets 18% of the net. We estimate that to be $24 million this year if they have a team in the game. If they don't have a team in the game, they get 9%. That works out to be $12 million. You may be saying, Boise State got $6 million because they were at-large, and TCU last year got, it was, about 21, but they had to divide that money among themselves. That's because it was their decision.
The six conferences didn't care what they did with their revenue. The five decided it would be in their best interest to divide it. If you look at how much those teams got as a team, they didn't receive as much, but that's because they chose to divide it, in the same way that the Southeastern Conference has chosen to divide its money. TCU and Boise took home more money than the SEC and Big Ten team did because of their conference distributions. It's important to note that everybody selected at-large gets the same amount, $6 million, and there's the amount we anticipate going to the non-AQ, $24 million.
The next to the bottom bullet, the non-AQ got $24 million, far more than they've ever gotten before, last year. The remainder is divided among the AQ conferences. We estimate that to be $22 million net this year.
If you look at it, there's our little deal again, BC. If you look at it, the non-AQ group gets $24 million, the AQ group per conference gets $22 million. So they actually get more. Again, they've decided to divide it among themselves. Again, the six don't care. They don't care what they do with it. They want them to do what's in their best interest.
Here is what the non-AQ group had before the BCS. Six appearances in these games in 53 years. They've had six in the last six years. They are far better off, far better off, than they've ever been before in post-season football.
There's my info. I'm absolutely available for questions and comments anytime, 24/7. We'll see if there's any questions.

Q. Have you paid attention to the situation out at the Fiesta Bowl with the Attorney General looking whether or not those campaign contributions were legal?
BILL HANCOCK: The question is about the campaign contribution situation in Arizona.
We don't think it affects the BCS' status at all. Because I'm not involved in that day to day, we're deferring questions about the specifics to the folks at the Fiesta Bowl.
You know, the BCS is actually not an entity. It's just an event that's managed by the 11 conferences. So we're asked for our comments. I can comment on behalf of the group after forming a consensus. But a lot of folks think it's some entity like the NCAA or the NFL. It's not. It's just an event.

Q. Are you aware of the Utah Attorney General's following anti-trust laws and discussed with the U.S. justice department?
BILL HANCOCK: The question is about the Utah Attorney General having said he's going to take a case that the BCS is in violation of anti-trust laws. We're quite aware of that. We follow that.
The fact is that the justice department was asked several years ago to look at the BCS under the same grounds. Let me back up. It was actually before the BCS, during the days of the coalition or the alliance, I can't remember which. But the justice department was asked to look at it. They get asked to look at things quite often. I'm not a lawyer, but I've had to become one. I'm a newspaper guy, not a lawyer.
They were asked to look at the BCS several years ago, precursor to the BCS several years ago. They decided not to.
How it works is they investigate to see whether they need to have an investigation. Before when they looked at it, they didn't think it even warranted an investigation.
We're confident that the BCS complies with the laws of the land. When Coach Kramer set it up, he found the best attorneys that he could to set the system up so that it would comply with the law. We are absolutely confident that we've succeeded in that.

Q. Why is it a set four-year period?
BILL HANCOCK: Very good question. Why is it that there was a four-year evaluation period set up?
Well, there were lots of ways to do it. You could do it every year. But if you did it every year, then some conference might just have one terrific year and then might go down. So they're trying to avoid any blips skewing the data.
I think they like the four years just so the data doesn't get skewed by one good or bad year for a conference. I think next time they might look at possibly have a four-year rolling period maybe or having maybe a two-year rolling period, roll every two years.
Part of it is that the TV partner, the TV rights-holder, wants to know what conferences it's getting. So having the four-year period enables it to coincide with the four-year BCS cycle. But there's been some talk about that. It's a matter of not wanting a good year or a bad year to skew the results.
What they're looking at is trying to get conferences that have demonstrated over time that they're the top conferences.

Q. In your cover point, you made a lot of references to financial growth, TV ratings, et cetera, of college football during the BCS. What is it that tells you that growth has taken place because of the BCS as opposed to in spite of the BCS?
BILL HANCOCK: That's a good question. I thought about that this morning when I was on my run after I thought about my bike ride. You think about a lot of things when you're out running.
I don't think there's any intuitive evidence, any hard evidence that shows. But the fact is that intuitively, we know that the attendance began to rise in that year that the BCS was formed. Could it have been an accident? It could have. Could it be a coincidence? It could have.
But I just think intuitively, we know that the game has become much more of a national game because of the BCS. I don't think it's fair for us or anybody to take all the credit for anything or all the blame for anything. But I don't think it was coincidental.
Thanks again, everybody. I'll be around the rest of the day. If you need anything, just holler.

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