Monday evening, Bill Hancock, executive director of the newly named College Football Playoff, got on stage and spoke about how excited he was for the upcoming College Football Playoff.
It wasn't that weird. After all, Hancock is executive director of the newly named College Football Playoff, which is an exciting new development college football fans have been yearning for.
However, it's weird when you remember that before Hancock was executive director of the newly named College Football Playoff, he was executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, the shadowy cabal that decided who got to play in the national championship game and a series of four other bowl games that didn't actually have any role in deciding the national champion.
As such, he spent years caterwauling about the horrific consequences that switching to a college football playoff could bring, essentially pre-refuting every nice thing he said about the idea last night. Let's take a look, shall we?
Hancock now says a playoff doesn't ruin college football's high-stakes regular season:
"We believed that we could have a 4-team playoff, while maintaining everything that is great about college football's regular season." - BH— CFB Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) April 24, 2013
Let's look at an editorial Hancock wrote in USA Today - the paper that provides the Coaches Poll that the BCS used in its rankings - in 2010, which Spencer Hall panned line-by-line at the time. In it, Hancock said a playoff would ruin college football's regular season:
College football has the best regular season of any sport, and the lack of a playoff is one big reason why. Millions of football fans this year tuned in to watch the season-opening game between Boise State and Virginia Tech because there was so much on the line —starting early in September.
He said the same thing in a 2010 radio interview, then picked apart by SB Nation's Mountain West Connection.
We have the best regular season of any sport. Really the only regular season that means a whole lot. It's compelling, you have to tune in every week, or if you happen to go to the Galapagos one weekend, you're going to miss something exciting. And so we need to do everything we can to preserve the importance of this regular season.
Hancock now says four-team field is the perfect size:
"We think the four-team playoff doesn't go too far, it just goes the right distance." - Executive Director, Bill Hancock #4ward— CFB Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) April 24, 2013
In that aforementioned radio interview, Hancock said there could never be a perfect size:
There would be controversy with any kind of a playoff - four teams, eight teams, sixteen teams. Somebody is going get left out; somebody's not going to get paired with the team they want to get paired with. And you just aren't going to avoid controversy in any kind of a playoff bracket, or any kind of a postseason event, no matter what it is.
Hancock now says playoff will make the winner more legitimate:
"The event is very simple -- the top 4 teams will play in a semifinal...Let's settle it on the field once and for all." - BH— CFB Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) April 24, 2013
In a USA Today article about whether or not the BCS broke anti-trust law, Hancock explained that 13 out of 13 times, the BCS picked the two correct teams in his eyes.
"We had an opportunity to explain what we do... that it improved access (to top-tier bowls) and attendance and the (championship) game is much more of a national game and fans have benefited. No. 1 and 2 have met 13 of 13 years by our standards and 10 of 13 by AP's, and that only happened eight times in bowl games in 54 years before the BCS.
So, I thought y'all were settling it on the field?
Hancock now says the BCS sometimes led to questionable decisions:
"There are two letters that are no associated with this name." -- Hancock (B and S)— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) April 23, 2013
In the USA Today editorial, Hancock defended the concept of the BCS in spite of people's desire for a playoff:
I know that they want to fill out a bracket, and that they want to watch more college football in December. They want their favorite team to have a slot in that bracket. But the desire for a different postseason format doesn't justify the false attacks against the BCS event. And as the person who used to manage the NCAA Final Four, I know that what works for one sport doesn't work so easily for a different sport.
More on how the BCS is pretty much the best:
The abuse from the critics is balderdash. The fact is the BCS accomplishes its mission with a stunningly popular national championship game...The BCS is a voluntary arrangement that benefits every university in the NCAA's Bowl Subdivision. It has provided all schools with more revenue and more access to the major bowl games than ever before...If ever a season showed that the BCS is fair and that it works, it's this season.
After spending years defending the BCS, Hancock is now literally calling it BS.
Hancock now says playoff will make college football a better place:
"We think the new playoff will be the most dynamic improvement to college football in a generation." - Executive Director, Bill Hancock— CFB Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) April 23, 2013
From the editorial, Hancock said a playoff would ruin the bowl system, one of the shining graces of college football:
...A playoff, on the other hand, would be limited to a small number of schools, and it would turn their celebratory week into a series of one-day business trips because the teams would arrive the day before the game and leave right afterward. If they won, they'd need to get ready for next week's game. That's not a bowl party — that's another game on the schedule.
From the radio interview:
It really is a treasure. And also preserving the Bowl system. With the Bowls in college football we have something unique. And it's an experience the student-athletes will never, ever forget. They get to spend five, six, seven days in a different culture with their teammates and have a Bowl as a reward at the end of the season. We believe a playoff would diminish the regular season and end the Bowl system, certainly as we know it."
Hancock admits the College Football Playoff makes college football better... but only after spending a lifetime spent telling us it would make college football worse. Okay.
Hancock said the same things over and over again for years: that a playoff would ruin college football's regular season and its bowl system. These two points were his greatest hits, and he played them every time he got up on stage.
It made sense: he was the head of an organization that made oodles and oodles of money and didn't have any real purpose for existing. You're damn right he spent years harping on the fact that his position was absolutely necessary, grinding his "COLLEGE FOOTBALL REGULAR SEASON = UNBELIEVABLE" mortar into his "COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL SYSTEM = GREAT" pestle to make an argument that he should have a job.
But somewhere along the lines, something happened. Hancock, 10 conference commissioners, and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick realized they could also make oodles and oodles of money -- if not more -- in a slightly different system. The bowls would still be there, as would college football's profitable regular season. Hell, they could even keep Hancock in charge.
And so, his song changed. After years of spinning litanies of doom about how a playoff would ruin his sport, he's crooning the praises of the playoff to the heavens.
Maybe he genuinely realizes that this new way of doing things is slightly more sensible. Perhaps he doesn't care either way, and is fine striking up whatever tune he needs, as long as he's got a job and the money stays flowing in.