College football's getting a playoff, and conference commissioners are currently hearing from their member schools on what sort of playoff each league would prefer. BCS executive director Bill Hancock, having stepped down from his role as the sport's Wizard of Oz, now seems free to talk about actual discussions had by actual people, rather than hammering home an unpopular party line.
While on with WFNZ in Charlotte, Hancock talked about a couple of the biggest issues, listing the conference champions thing as perhaps the most disputed so far. He also downplayed the chances of an eventual eight-team playoff, but that sort of already feels hard to avoid. Via Sports Radio Interviews:
On the time frame for finalizing a playoff format:
"Well it's always good and helpful to talk about the time frame, and first of all there's still two more years to go on the current agreement. But the rest of the time frame is: during the next couple of months the conferences will be talking about the future and I hope by early summer we will be able to announce a change in the BCS."
On what the format might look like:
"It's a very interesting question. And when the commissioners elected to present this four-team playoff concept to the conferences, they intentionally didn't resolve that as well as where to play the games and how the teams are selected. And I'll be curious at the end of this to see what your listeners are thinking about it. But generally, there's up sides and down sides to everything. Obviously if you have 1, 2, 3 and 4, you've got a pure bracket: 1 versus 4 and 2 versus 3. But if you take the conference champions - the top four ranked conference champions - then the regular season, which is the best in sports anyway, may mean even more. But then you would have a question about, ‘Well, what about No. 2 Alabama?' This year, if it had been the conference champions, it would've been teams ranked 1, 3, 5 and 10. And is that what the public wants to see? I really don't know. From what I've heard, folks are about divided 50/50 on it."
On schools potentially having the ability to play home games in the playoff:
"There's still a long way to go in our conversations, so we're not to the end of the game yet and that certainly is one of the things that is still on the table. I was director of the Final Four before I went to work in football and we experienced it in basketball back in the eighties. Which was too much of a home-court advantage in basketball, and so we went away from it in basketball. And I don't know what the response will be in football after awhile. Will people decide that the 1 and 2 teams have earned too much of an advantage? I dunno. And another thing is the infrastructure on campuses may leave something to be desired. And would you have the celebratory pageantry of a postseason event on campus? That's an unknown. But of course one of the advantages to campus play is you're assured of a huge crowd of enthusiastic fans. And another one is, if you're dealing with semifinals and a championship, then if the home team wins of course then their fans have not had to travel across the country two different weeks, a week apart, to go to these games."
On who is involved in this decision and where they're leaning:
"There's 11 conference commissioners and the Notre Dame AD. That's basically the board that runs the BCS. And I wouldn't hazard a guess as to where they are on this. They haven't come to a final conclusion. But they're split. It's safe to say that - they're split. ... The commissioners will collaboratively come to some agreement about what the format should be. There won't be a vote - they will just sit and talk it through until they come up with something that everybody can live with."
On the likelihood that this is a stepping stone to an eight-team postseason:
"I don't think it's likely. I don't wanna speak for the next 30 years, but I don't think it's likely."