BCS system, Boise State among hot topics at Maaco Bowl Las Vegas event

BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock says access to title game in current structure ‘fair’ for Broncos

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BCS executive director Bill Hancock

When Bill Hancock took on what has quickly become one of the most scrutinized jobs in sports, friends didn't hold back from giving honest advice.

"I did have some friends who said, 'Bill, you shouldn't do that,'" the executive director of the Bowl Championship Series said. "But I thought it was absolutely something I wanted to do and somewhere where I thought I could make a difference."

Making a difference means trying to make everyone happy. Realistically, that will probably never happen, but it doesn't mean he's going to stop trying anytime soon.

Hancock, who is based in the Kansas City suburbs, was in town on Wednesday to take part in the annual fall kickoff luncheon for the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas, which will be played at Sam Boyd Stadium on Dec. 22.

The event was held in large part to get some buzz going for the game and to give ticket sales an early kick. Before the lunch portion of the event took place at Texas de Brazil in Town Square, some of the key figures on hand took the podium inside the crowded restaurant.

The undertone was consistent — the bowl system in place is right, and a playoff system to determine the Football Bowl Subdivision national champion every year is wrong.

"There's nothing good about them for players or coaches," said UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, who in his years as an assistant at Colorado and Washington, then as a head coach at Football Championship Series power Montana, has experienced both worlds. "Frankly, I don't like (playoffs)."

He was followed by former Washington quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Brock Huard. Though his college days wrapped up when the BCS was merely in its infant stages, he shared stories of how much he enjoyed the experience of playing in bowl games at the end of each of his four seasons with the Huskies.

Hancock, however, was the guy who the media most wanted to hear from. Before sitting down for his meal, he took the podium and shared a few words, then was peppered with questions afterward as the crowd filtered out.

The topic du jour, of course, was what many preaching for further equality in the current BCS structure have been talking about for two weeks now — Boise State.

The Broncos, who have capped off a pair of undefeated seasons in recent years with wins in BCS games as at-large qualifiers, became the talk of the college football world on Sept. 6, when they went on the road and knocked off then-No. 10 Virginia Tech in Washington, D.C., in a 33-30, down-to-the-wire thriller.

The game helped No. 3 Boise State maintain its spot in the national polls, earned the program a handful of first-place votes and proved yet again that the "little program that could" can hang with the game's so-called "big boys."

However, there's already concern that even if Boise State rolls through the rest of its schedule unscathed, including a jaunt through what's considered to be a not-so-tough Western Athletic Conference field, that the Broncos would not get a fair shake in an effort to play in the BCS title game. Instead, there's already worry that if two teams from bigger conferences have one-loss records against a stronger slate of competition, that the Broncos could get passed up.

"I understand that, because it's sports, and all fans want what's best for their team," said Hancock, who previously served as the executive director of the NCAA men's basketball Final Four. "Fans are not charged with the responsibility of seeing the big picture. And I get that. And it happened in basketball. The e-mails and hate phone calls we got from teams that were left out (of the NCAA tourney) would blow your mind. It's the same in this. I completely get that.

"What I don't get, and what ticks me off, is when people say (the BCS system is) rigged. It is not rigged. It's impossible to rig. If Boise State is No. 1 or No. 2, they're going to be in that game."

Hancock was then asked if he thought the current system gave Boise State fair access to the prestigious championship tilt, and he responded quickly with a simple "yes."

The whole argument could become moot should Boise State fall just once this season, as they still have 10 regular season games to play.

The next order involving the Broncos, though, will be the potential inclusion of the Mountain West Conference as a BCS automatic qualifier in two years, when the the possibility of AQ expansion from six leagues to seven is again open for discussion with the board of directors. That panel includes Hancock, 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick.

Boise State will be joining the Mountain West next year, while fellow WAC defectors Nevada-Reno and Fresno State will come on board in either 2011 or 2012. It makes up for the league losing Utah (Pac-10) and BYU (independent in football, WCC in all other sports) this summer, but will it be enough to push the MWC into the AQ arena?

"You know, the numbers will say whether it is or not," he said, referencing the formula which flat-out determines whether a conference is an AQ. "They have good teams, they have well-coached teams. But it's all in the numbers."

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  1. The only way Boise state gets a bid is if they win every game, and they understand that. However, the problem comes in when no one will schedule them down the road because they don't want to face a really tough team and possibly ruin their season. It's not like basketball. If 2 "big boy" teams go undefeated and boise state also does, its of course going to come down to scheduling, but that's not right. If there is more than one undefeated team, they should have to play a mini-tournament. Think back last year when Bama played Florida. THAT should have been the championship game, not Texas.

  2. I think that having automatic qualifiers is wrong. If the BCS is about bringing the best 2 teams to play in a championship, all the bowls should also include the best teams available. I recent years, the MWC has been a better football conference than the Big East no question, and it could be argued that it has been better than the the ACC, Pac 10, and Big 10 for some of these conferences in the past 3 years. The fact that the ACC and Big East automatically get to send someone while the TCU's, and the Boise's, and the Utah have to go undefeated (in better conferences in the MWC's case) just to get in, is absurd. There is no way that the system is "fair". It's about money and since the higher ups of all of the current AQ's get to make the decisions, they will never give up AQ status and take huge money away from their teams just to have a better MWC/WAC team take their place in any BCS game.
    The BCS computer system may not be rigged, but all non AQ's are at a huge disadvantage. Specifically, most of the best AQ teams will not schedule a game against the best non AQ teams. Why should they? They have a good chance of losing and they don't need the game in order to get in to the championship. Boise (currently) probably needs 2-3 games against top 15 opponents to even sniff a chance for a NC, but it's nearly impossible for them to do so. So I do think the BCS system as a whole is "rigged".

  3. Exactly Htown, It's not "rigged" in the sense of cheating or something, it's rigged in that teams who are in other conferences can't get a shot. It's all about keeping the bigs up, and little teams down. In the future, more money would come in once the smaller teams establish themselves.

  4. The more interesting question is; what if TCU has the perfect season? TCU will have had played a tougher schedule than Boise.

    What if Utah has the perfect season? More than just Boise in the hunt.

  5. "What I don't get, and what ticks me off, is when people say (the BCS system is) rigged. It is not rigged. It's impossible to rig. If Boise State is No. 1 or No. 2, they're going to be in that game."

    It is rigged because the coaches poll and Harris poll are part of the equation to determine who is #1 and #2. Coaches will always vote for a team that is in their conference. If a team from their conference gets into the championship game they get a split of the money. Thats why 1 loss BCS teams will jump a undefeated Boise St. team by the end of the year. Hell, these coaches don't even have time to watch teams from other conferences to make an educated vote.

    Bill Hancock you're a joke.

  6. Boise State, Utah, TCU are all good programs. Let the season play itself out and we will see who is left standing. I can't wait for Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada to join the MWC.

  7. You really expect me to believe Boise's narrow win over a poor Va Tech team and thrashing some horrible MWC, C-USA and WAC teams means they're the best team in the country? Play two games a year against anyone from the Big 10, Big 12 or SEC and I'll start to take them seriously.

  8. bgrebs - That's exactly what the first comment is talking about. The Big 10, Big 12 or SEC won't play Boise State two games a year, let alone one. They know that Boise State is a tough team and don't want it to ruin their own chances at winning the title. They're playing a good PAC-10 team in Oregon State and they've already played VA Tech. If nobody else will play them, what are they supposed to do? They can only play those teams that are on their schedule. I like the mentality of the MWC and WAC teams in that they will play whoever, whenever.

  9. Correct...major BCS teams will not play the likes of (Boise State & Fresno State) from the WAC and/or (TCU,Utah & BYU) from the MWC. Tehy know the teams are very good year in and year out and certainly have the capablities to win. Even look at the non traditional powers/cellar dwellars of San Jose State and Wyoming and where they will go.

    As much as UNLV fans have complained about Mike Sanford, he believed his team would be better than they were this year. A lot further along. He was way off. Football schedules are made years out; but, Sanford, made a hell of schedule this year. Wisconsin and @ West Virginia is aggressive. Add in Utah, BYU and TCU which is a given. The likes of @ Hawaii and UNR. WOW...that is 5 top 25 teams with two very good additional opponents. Add in Air Force which seems to be something special early on.

    Only if we had achieved Sanford's goals. No Bobby Hauck has to do the best he can the hand he was dealt. More to come...

  10. Major BCS teams will not play against Boise State, Fresno State, TCU, Utah, BYU or even Nevada. They have proven in the past of beating major BCS teams. BCS teams are concerned about losing to these schools early on in the season and wrecking their chance of winning a national title.

  11. was the lunch free

  12. The funny thing is that you could argue that UNLVs schedule may be good enough to make it to the title game. Depending on how well Wisconsin and west Virginia does this year. But tcu being top 5 Utah and Wisconsin being top 15, that's as good or better than a lot of so-called contenders

  13. I have always thought the MWC and the WAC should've merged and/or expanded after the BSC system was created. The western portion of the country's urban areas are smaller and more spreadout and I think the collaborative effort to raise the standard of all the western US programs is required to compete consistently at the national level. But, that concept requires spreading the wealth and in that's not an easy thing for the have's to do. Personally, I don't support the playoff system. The bowl system is more exciting for the players and the fans and it generates more revenue for the teams and conferences.