DALLAS — There’s a smile on Bill Hancock’s face these days that not even the gray winter skies over North Texas can dim.
Hancock is the executive director of the College Football Playoff. On Monday night at AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington, Sugar Bowl champion Ohio State and Rose Bowl champ Oregon will play in the first CFP National Championship Game.
Hancock, who once ran the Men’s Final Four and the BCS, has shepherded the CFP from its initial formative meetings in June 2012 to the eve of its biggest moment to date.
On Friday, Hancock met with reporters in an informal gathering to discuss a broad spectrum of topics.
Here are some of the highlights:
Could expansion be on the College Football Playoff horizon?
There’s a lot of reasons our group isn’t talking about expansion, the reason it’s four (teams) for 12 years. Championship games are important to most conferences. That’s one of the things that was an issue with eight.
We had a whole spectrum of options. There must have been at least two dozen on the table. One was eight, another was 16. One of the things against eight was travel. That’s one of the reasons we settled on four for 12 years.
We know there is a tipping point, beyond which the size of the postseason bracket will begin to erode the regular season. No one knows what that tipping point is. We know it’s not four. We were able to keep the regular season and keep the bowls. This worked out really, really well.
How much of this has been a learning process for the committee, especially with the week-to-week rankings?
All of this has been a learning process. I don’t remember when the last major sporting event was created in this country from scratch. Probably the Super Bowl. As well as we’ve tried to model this, it’s all been a learning process.
Do you anticipate big changes in the selection process going into next season?
The committee will meet this winter and in the early spring, then the management committee will meet, but I don’t think there will be significant tweaks. I don’t think you will see major changes like the BCS made early on. I think if there are changes, they will be very minor.
What’s the timetable for awarding the next set of CFP championship games?
We have three on the books now: here, Phoenix (in 2016) then Tampa (in 2017). The process for selecting the next three will begin next month and conclude in September of this year.
Have you already accepted bids?
No. We’ll put out a request for proposal to cities that have been interested. I think there will be eight, 10, maybe 12 cities. There will be tremendous competition for this. I think the first time around we had a lot of interest, but I don’t think it quite dawned on people what a significant event this is and is going to grow into.
How do you plan to replace CFP committee member Oliver Luck, the West Virginia athletic director who is leaving to work for the NCAA?
The Big 12 will nominate someone. They said they will nominate an (athletic director). I expect they’ll have someone in place by the spring.
Have you talked to the Big 12 about adding a championship game since that seemed like a factor in their conference being shut out of the playoff?
I haven’t talked to (Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby) specifically about that. That’s not our call. That’s the conference’s call.
As it turned out, not having a championship game cost them only in the fact that Ohio State got another game against a quality opponent. What has been lost in some of this championship game debate is the risk-reward nature of championship games. If two games come out differently, the Big 12 would come out looking like geniuses.
TCU was No. 3 in the second-to-last poll, then won by 52 over Iowa State and finished sixth. Does the committee have to consider what it does one week and its impact on the next?
This is a new paradigm. College football has never had anything like this selection committee before. I don’t think anything exemplified the new paradigm more than some of those early rankings, when it became clear it wasn’t just about wins and losses, that with this system the committee could dig deeper when creating their rankings. That’s what we wanted, and we got it.
Talk about the decision to provide $1,250 per players’ parent or guardian to attend the CFP.
(The NCAA) found a loophole in their rules and saw that they could apply that to the Final Four and the College Football Playoff. I learned about it that morning, and we had to hustle to get it together.
What will the total cost be?
In the neighborhood of $500,000. It will come from the (CFP) budget. We can absolutely afford to do this. We don’t know (how many parents) will take advantage. We set the number at 100 athletes for each team. Tickets were already available. What this added was airfare, meals and lodging.
What was the weekly meeting process like for the committee members?
The travel to Dallas for those seven weeks was a grind. They would meet Monday morning, work their tails off Monday afternoon and Tuesday, then went back home to their day jobs. It was intense. Once they got here, they loved it. But the getting here and getting home was a grind.
Talk about some of the logistical issues of expanding the playoff, such as where and when to play the quarterfinal games.
When we talked about the options in the spring of 2012, some of the things mentioned about eight and 16 (teams) were what would it do to the regular season and what would it do to the bowls. Where would the quarterfinals be played? Probably on campus.
There was discussion about having the semifinals on campus. That stayed alive for a long time. We met with the athletic directors group, and they said they couldn’t match the bowl experience. That turned it.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv