NORMAN — “New Years will never be the same,” College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said while speaking to journalism school alumni and the public about the future of the BCS and the current state of college football Saturday at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Everyone will have to make sure the New Years party they’re at has a television!”
Calling himself one of the luckiest guys in sports, Hancock explained how the end of the BCS was really the beginning of an exciting and different college football format with the creation of college football playoffs. Set to entertain fans beginning in the 2014-2015 football season, two semifinals at the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl will air on New Years Day and lead to a championship Jan. 12, 2015 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“At first the BCS was very well recieved, but after a few years we had to make changes in the selection process, and since then the public has been a bit weary and demanded more change,” Hancock said and went on to explain that the College Football Playoff hoped to answer public demands of more football while maintaining the importance of the regular football season.
“Other sports focus most of their attention on the playoffs/postseason. College football has always taken the view that every game in the reagular season matters. Think about how many Sooners come back just for a football game. The regular season brings the community together,” Hancock said.
Under the new system, the regular season will remain as important as it always has as regular season match-ups, and in turn overall team performance will dictate selection of playoff teams. Four teams will be selected to play in two semifinals that lead to one championship. Semifinal locations will rotate year to year between Sugar, Rose, Orange, Cotton, Chick-fil-a and Fiesta Bowls.
A selection committee composed of 12 to 18 retired coaches and other football experts will be in charge of selecting the top four teams for playoffs and assigning them rankings as well as ranking the next group of teams to play in other New Years’ bowls if berths are available. The selection committee, and its protocol has not yet been finalized.
All 10 conferences are members of the new College Football Playoff entity and all FBS teams will have equal access to the playoff based on team performance. Computers will no longer control championship rankings.
Sharon Caliendo, of Norman, said she is happy to see the computers and BCS go.
“Compared to the BCS, I’m excited. I think it sounds like a good system,” said Caliendo. “I think it’ll be so much better and not as scattered.”
Reminiscing about his OU college days, Hancock, a ‘72 journalism school graduate, attributed his success–Hancock has served as executive director of the NCAA Final Four and executive director of the BCS–and the success of college football to their ties to higher education.
“I owe my success to the start I got here (University of Oklahoma) and my many mentors like Jack Whittaker and Coach Fairbanks...We (the BCS) are convinced college football is successful because it’s an element of higher education. The role of athletics in education will always be important to college football,” Hancock said.
Such a connection will not be lost Hancock said in what he hopes will become a version of the Super Bowl.
“The playoffs will be similar but not identical to the Super Bowl because we will keep it in the context of higher education. We aren’t threatened by the Super Bowl, and they shouldn’t be threatened by us.”
Some football fans like Don Harral, OU alumni and friend of Hancock for 40 years, said it would be interesting to see how the playoff turns out.
“People have been begging for it. So while it’s too early to tell if it’s a good or bad thing, people are going to get the change they wanted. I think the playoff will be interesting,” Harral said.
With public reception of the College Football Playoff uncertain, it is certain fans will keep watching football–even on New Years. The last three national championship games were the most nationally watched program on cable television. Hancock said the BCS turned what was a regional game into a national game.
“The public should be proud of its final season,” Hancock said.
Football fans interested in more information about the College Football Playoff can go to collegefootballplayoff.com.