Remarks by Bill Hancock to the Football Writers Association of America on the Morning of January 6, 2014.
(Prepared text. Spoken remarks may differ.)
Greetings to you and happy belated New Year. It is terrific to be here; as someone who grew up in the business and inherited a daily newspaper at age 23, I always feel like this is where I belong.
Well, how about the BCS?! These 16 years have been a golden era for college football.
I'm sure you will agree that we're all lucky to be associated with this game. I'm certainly grateful to all those who worked so hard to create the BCS experience. From the bowl people—such as the remarkable Gina Lehe—to the coaches, from the bands to the student-athletes, and from the commissioners to the media, thank you. I'm grateful and honored for the nine years I have spent with the BCS, and am looking forward to plenty more great years with the new event.
I'm even grateful to those in the press who often disagree with me about post-season football. Sure, the BCS has had its share of controversies, and I notice that some good reporter always lets me know about those. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I also notice you haven't brought any significant angst to my attention recently. Maybe that's because the new playoff era is about to begin. Or maybe it's because we keep getting it right. After all the shouting, after all the oh-my-goodness what-if scenarios, after all the fears about impending BCS-mageddon–once again the ole BCS just calmly plugged away and did its job by successfully matching the top two teams in the nation.
And we have had a slam-bang finish, with probably the most entertaining four-game stretch in BCS history. We have every reason to believe that will continue tonight.
I'm proud of our track record and I'm proud of the BCS.
College football is a true national treasure. Popularity, attendance, and fan viewership are at record levels. That is because of several factors, and one of those is the transformative role played by the BCS.
This is college football played by student-athletes. Its most important mission is not handing out trophies or playing in bowl games, it is allowing these fine young men to enjoy the game they love while helping them prepare for successful lives and careers. We must never forget that—we WILL never forget that—no matter the pressure from fans, or politicians, or those in the media who would have us be something we are not.
Before the game tonight, we will honor Roy Kramer. Back in 1997, Roy joined others who recognized the many significant benefits of a matchup between the number 1 and number 2 teams in a bowl game. Roy forged unity among conferences, schools and bowl games that previously had not been possible. He knew that must happen if there would ever be an opportunity to determine a national champion on the field.
It didn't happen overnight, but Roy and others kept at it. Eventually the BCS was born. And for the first time in the history of this game, there was a consensus system with one major task: to match the top two teams in a championship game. Achieving consensus after many decades of hard lines was no small feat. That willingness to work together for the good of the game – not just for an individual institution or conference – has led us to where we are today.
We got here because the commissioners exchanged ideas, compromised, and moved forward—always striving to improve the game. Frankly, if you will permit me a bit of emotion, creating the BCS and maintaining it all these years was one of the best things that ever happened to college football.
Simply stated, the BCS legacy will be four things: it matched No. 1 and 2, it enhanced the regular season, it improved the bowl system and it introduced new schools to top-tier bowl games. It has been an unqualified success.
I will close soon, so there will be time for questions. I'm excited about the four-team playoff and what it will mean to college football. Four teams is perfect.
As we gather here in Pasadena for the last BCS game tonight, and think about being right back here next year in the Rose Bowl for the first semi-final of the new era next year, allow me to give you one caution. The success of the post-season must be built on the vitality of the regular season. The playoff will be a great addition to the regular season. But it's the regular season that makes college football such a cherished cultural icon.
Of course, the new playoff will surely create its share of controversies. And I look forward to your bringing them to my attention. If the BCS is any guide, there will be no shortage of debate with the playoff. That goes hand-in-hand with any successful event.
But I also have a very good feeling that we'll get the playoff right, too.
So tonight, let's enjoy a celebration of the most exciting and meaningful regular season in sports. A celebration of the student athletes, the bands and cheerleaders, and the pageantry of America's great bowl tradition in an iconic setting. A celebration of remarkable success.
I have some advice. I hope you will get to the Rose Bowl stadium early today. I hope you will take just a minute to sit quietly in that beautiful new press box and look across at the spectacular San Gabriel Mountains. And I will challenge you to ask yourself, "Where else in the whole world would I rather be at this very moment?"
There is nowhere else that I would rather be, physically, emotionally or professionally. I am proud of the BCS's success. And now I look forward to your questions.